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HBT Daily: What can be done about catcher collisions?

May 27, 2011, 12:05 PM EDT

Yeah, we've probably talked this to death already, but I swear, when we taped this yesterday it was still fresh.
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  1. acasey42 - May 27, 2011 at 1:30 PM

    My take is that the only people getting their panties in a bunch over this play are those who must not have played the game at a high enough level. In his career, Posey has probably made hundreds of plays at the plate. He has been taught techniques that would have prevented this much contact, and he knew exactly what he was doing when he dropped his knee into the path of the baseline. This is literally the first thing you are taught when handling plays at the plate is to never let your knee be perpendicular to the baseline because if there is contact, you have no leverage and obviously your leg is not meant to bend laterally. Add that to the fact that the throw is coming in from the right side, so he has no sight of where Cousins is until he has the ball. This injury does not happen if the throw is coming from the left side.

    Bottom line is that this was a totally clean play. Both Posey and Cousins knew that this play would likely determine the game and both players put their body on the line for the team. It’s a shame to see a player as gifted as Posey get hurt, but if nothing else it speaks to the way he plays the game. As a coach, I’m using this replay with every single catcher to show how not to make a play at the plate.

    • misterkase - May 27, 2011 at 2:12 PM

      Irrespective of how Posey should have positioned himself to the baseline, the fact remains that Cousins never intended to go for the plate. This is obvious in the photo linked here.

      Indeed, Cousins later admitted that his intention was to “knock the ball loose”, and he clearly angled away from the plate towards the infield side to throw his shoulder into Posey. The throw didn’t come from the right side, it came from straight-away center. The plate was wide open. It would have been easier to dislodge the ball from Posey’s glove during the sweep tag than to throw a body check, in a manner even the NHL bans. It’s not a clean play when the plate is being not blocked by the catcher. The frame I linked to clearly shows the plate is not blocked. Hard-nosed baseball? Maybe, but there needs to be more clearly defined limits on how and where there is player contact, and the limits must be enforced. As it is, I think Cousins is wearing a target for the time being. If the league won’t protect players, expect some old-fashioned Drysdale justice for Cousins.

      • acasey42 - May 27, 2011 at 2:51 PM

        You won’t see Cousins get thrown at because he did nothing wrong. Your photo of cutting a line diagonally across the plate means nothing and provides terrible perspective to what Cousins would have actually been seeing as he was coming down the line. These 2 do a better job, and you have to keep in mind that the flat side of the plate is only 8.5″. That is not that much space for a play that is developing so quickly. Yes, he could have avoided contact, but his decision to make contact is not as egregious as some have tried to portray it.

        In terms of where the ball is coming in from, it’s clearly on the right side of center (and Schierholtz even makes the play). You can go back and watch the replay and see that Posey will anchor his left foot to the third base side of the plate, meaning that he has to open his shoulders to the right side, leaving him totally blind to where Cousins is until the ball has reached him (the first photo confirms that).

        I don’t really understand how it would have been easy for Cousins to dislodge the ball with a sweep tag, as you put it. I think Cousins made the right play and that it’s extremely unfortunate that Posey got hurt.

  2. jimbo1949 - May 27, 2011 at 2:00 PM

    Are you also teaching your students to eschew the wide open plate and level the catcher instead?

  3. garlicfriesandbaseball - May 27, 2011 at 2:22 PM

    I’m still a little ticked off at ESPN Sports who immediately proclaimed that unequivocally “Buster was blocking the plate.” Nothing’s changed since the World Series. Sorry ESPN ~ but you’ve got to learn to get past it. Try to get over to the west coast sometime. You might like it.

  4. mikeinfl - May 27, 2011 at 3:53 PM

    Where was all the hue and cry last year when Carlos Santana got creamed by Ryan Kalish? Santana was done for the season after a major knee injury.

  5. garlicfriesandbaseball - May 27, 2011 at 5:20 PM

    Sorry acasey, but your 2nd photo clearly confirms what misterkase is saying. Cousins is obviously charging at Posey to interfere with the play – he doesn’t care about home plate, which is clearly unobstructed.

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