Buster Posey & The Collision

by Ken Hurst, June 8, 2011

How did we all start to ‘luv de guy’ so fast? Buster Posey was a “throwback” kind of guy. He was humble, earnest, and hard working. He looked like a big boy. There was a softness to his body with small shoulders, and not a visible muscle anywhere. But his coordination was pure as was his swing of the bat and his throwing motion.

His baseball IQ was very high and as a rookie catcher, he won the confidence of the SF Giants’ great pitching staff. He was the 2010 Rookie of the Year and was a big part of the impetus that led his team to the World Series Championship of major league baseball.

In the 2011 baseball season, many of us were concerned by all of the foul ball tips caused by the wizardry of his great pitching staff that kept hitting him in his small customized hockey mask. He seemed to be drawn tight and losing weight and being a bit woozy for a few moments after another foul ball tip would plunk him in his facemask. I thought they should change his position on defense to give him a break from the tough and rugged job of major league catching occasionally. He could play every everyday position and did in college. I thought they should be teaching Brandon Belt how to play the outfield so Posey could be at first base part of the time.

It wasn’t just the fans who ‘luved de guy,’ but Giants Manager Bruce Bochy and General Manager Brian Sabean ‘luved de guy.’ Manager Bochy looks like a sunburned, taciturn farmer out of the l930s and as tough as nails, but he ‘luved’ Posey.

The respected baseball pro Sabean ‘luved de guy’ too. He may have said too much on KNBR radio that was negative about the Florida Marlins’ pinch runner Scott Cousins, a Bay Area product, only because we are seeing third world violence in the US now, so to say anything that is inflammatory even if you believe what you say can set people off.

The collision between Buster Posey and Scott Cousins on May 25 injured Posey badly. He had a broken ankle and three torn ligaments in his foot which put him on the shelf for the rest of the season.

My take on the collision was as follows:

Cousins could see everything unfold. Nothing was an accident.

Cousins was on third base when a fly ball was lofted easily to Nate Scheirholtz for an out to the Giants rightfielder. Cousins tagged up at third base and Scheirholtz, with his fine arm, rapidly threw to home plate attempting to throw out Cousins.

But, the throw was slightly off line. The throw was too far to the first base side of the plate, Posey was forced to twist and turn his left ankle and elongate himself in a long reach to catch the baseball from Scheirholtz’s throw and then try to turn quickly to tag Cousins before he touched home plate.

Cousins had been inserted into the game to use his speed to score. Posey knew it would be a close play at the plate. Therefore, he left a lane on the third base side of the plate for Cousins to use if he beat the throw from Scheirholtz. There was no chance of Posey tagging out Cousins if he slid in head first on the third base side, outside the plate, reaching to the plate with his left hand to score.

This would be an intelligent and hard-nosed way to score and brilliant because no one would be hurt. The score would be clean and purpose-driven and no apologies necessary from Cousins.

Cousins could see that open lane because he could view everything from the third base side of the field up-close and personal. He knew that lane was open and with his speed on an off line throw, the catcher had no chance to catch the ball and twist his body all of the way from outside the first base side to outside the third base side.

I don’t think Cousins intended to injure Posey. I do think he chose to bowl over Posey to impress his manager and teammates instead of doing the classy thing which was to score hard-nosed but clean.

In the long run, that would have been impressive without pangs of conscience. If Posey had blocked the entire plate, Cousins wouldn’t have had a choice but to blast into Posey. But, Posey squatted behind the plate and was in a position not to be able to guard the lane on the third base side.

Still we have Pablo Sandoval, “Panda,” getting ready in the minor leagues, and Brandon Belt may come on strong. The weather will warm up someday. But, as I said earlier, this team misses the tough masculine presence of Juan Uribe. ¥¥

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