Did collision compare to Morgan-Hayes incident?

LOS ANGELES — Go back to Aug. 31, 2010, and the Marlins were on the receiving end of a vicious and controversial collision at home plate.

Catcher Brett Hayes separated his left shoulder after being plowed into by Washington’s Nyjer Morgan.

Hayes missed the remainder of the season, and a benches-clearing incident occurred the next day after Chris Volstad twice threw at Morgan, who charged the mound the second time.

Were there any similarities between the Morgan collision and the one that occurred on Wednesday night at San Francisco? In the 12th inning, Scott Cousins barreled into Giants catcher Buster Posey, who fractured his lower left leg and sustained ankle ligament damage.

Marlins manager Edwin Rodriguez says the two collisions are apples and oranges.

“I don’t think it was the same situation,” Rodriguez said. “I think [Hayes] was way off home plate. He was standing up. It was a high throw. The runner on that play had a clean shot to home plate.”

When Morgan charged home, Hayes was rising to catch a high throw, and he was not blocking the plate. Rather than slide in and score easily, Morgan initiated contact. Then he went back to touch home plate.

Cousins clearly was looking to knock the ball loose from Posey, who was attempting to field a short hop, and in the process of turning. Because of the throw, Posey’s left leg was exposed. He lowered it to the ground in front of the plate.

Cousins didn’t know Posey hadn’t come up with the ball.

“It would have been hard for me to make a decision five feet before I got to home plate, to avoid the catcher,” Rodriguez said of Cousins. “I think that was part of the game. We are very sorry. There is no one here who wasn’t sorry. Even after he scored, there was no celebration in the dugout. There was zero celebration in the dugout. He came in shaking hands and all that. But there was zero celebration.”

Marlins catcher John Buck says the blocking the plate drill is worked on for more than a week during Spring Training. Buck adds that Posey was prepared to withstand the hit to his upper body. But his legs weren’t braced beneath him, resulting in the injury.

“There is about a week in spring, maybe more, working on that specific play,” Buck said. “For that reason. It’s a high risk play. You work on how to receive the ball, even if you are kicked or slid into. You’re trying to position your body if you are exposed, so even if you get hit, you can take it.

“It’s high emotion. Your thought as a catcher is to catch the ball and block home. I think that’s why you spend so much time in Spring, so you have that muscle memory. But it was a short hop. His leg turned, and left him exposed.”

Buck added that Posey normally wouldn’t lower his leg, but he was caught out of step due to the short-hop throw.

“I would venture to say, he doesn’t normally do that,” Buck said. “You have so much riding on that play, that you’d do so much to catch it and block the plate. Because the ball was short-hopped, it looked like he laid that left leg down to block the plate. His left leg was in front of the dish, his leg was trying to block the plate. I think he thought he had the ball. So once he did, if you look as [Cousins] hits him, [Posey’s] knee is down. But you could see, he was ready to absorb that hit.”

Joe Frisaro

6 Comments

Cousins veered way to his left with the intent to hit Posey. He had plenty of room to slide. A cheap shot!

If you look at that picture, where is the lane? I know it’s an emotional issue. But from multiple scouts, baseball people I’ve called and talked to over past few days, none think Cousins did anything wrong. That’s how the industry mostly sees it.

Morgan’s play was actually cleaner. No question it was a cheap shot by Cousins. Technical legal, but an extremely dirty play. 

There was a lane to slide. Posey was in fair territory when he was hit. He launched into a lowered Posey–you can’t tell me that a major leaguer can’t tell a catcher is squatting out of the baseline and a person with the ability to make nanosecond judgements can’t see that and either; a. Go at less than full force to reduce the chance of injury. or b. See that a lane was left and to the best to avoid the tag and score. And he want at full force anyway and didn’t even hit the plate after the collision. The fact he didn’t hit the plate after the collision shows me it was dirty. 

Knocking the ball out doesn’t require barrel rolling into somebody. Hitting his mitt would be a lot more effective. Let’s think about what we’re talking about for a catcher to lose control of the ball in that situation: 1. Be knocked out cold and sustain a head injury. 2. Be in so much pain, and injury like Posey’s that he drops the ball. As a baseball fan I don’t want to see that.   

I don’t think Cousins was intending to hurt Posey, but I do think he was unneccarily trying to impress his hometown crowd. And it wasn’t like this was Game 7 of the World Series. It was an extra inning game May. 

Frankly, Cousins should be fined six figures and suspended without pay for months for that kind of hit. It’s bad for the game. 

I am a Nationals fan, but I was really looking forward to seeing Posey play. He is a great young player–or was, I would not be surprised if he is never the same after this–and has a beautiful spring. And now I, and the 35,000 fans at the Giants stadium who were looking forward to seeing Posey play will get to see Ely Whiteside. And all because Scott Cousins wanted to impress the 8 family members he had watching. Eventually, people will stop coming to the park of needless injuries like that happen. 

It wasn’t a clean play. It was bad for baseball. Cousins defending the play–which was dirty–while crying about hurting Posey was pretty conscending. Especially the part where he said he would do it over knowing the results. So in all reality, I question whether he is sincere at all about his remorse. Don’t want to injure a guy? Don’t launch yourself into FAIR territory in a game in May to try and score the winning run and instead play clean and slide. 

It’s too bad that baseball won’t fine Cousins a high sum or suspend him for a significant length of time. Instead the Giants will likely throw at Cousins in August. Let’s say Lincecum hits Cousins in the head with a 95 mph fastball and breaks his jaw. Just as wrong as cousins when that happens. Or let’s say there is a brawl and Pat Burrel has a career ending leg injury when he is pinned against the backstop (exact same thing happened in the Cardinals/Reds brawl last year) Is that really justice or just more needless violence. 

If I wanted to watch people launch into each other with the intent of injuring each other, I would be a football fan. I  am a baseball fan: I want to see breaking balls, home runs, diving catches; not violent collisions or fights.

So despite the fact I think Cousins was clearly in the wrong and violated an unwritten rule of baseball, I hope they don’t throw at him. And despite the fact I think it was a dirty play, I don’t think you can fine or suspend him nc baseball stupidly had no rules on this. 

Instead they should adopt the following rule: if you hit the catcher in fair territory, you’re  automatically out, fined $25,000 and if you injure the catcher while doing it you’re suspended for the length of time the catcher is out–with pay. And call that the Scott Cousins Rule and I think that would be punishment enough–to live in infamy for a needless cheap shot that was bad for baseball.      

I think I’ve heard this as the general consensus: the result can largely be chalked up to Posey’s lack of fundamentals. Cousins obviously did not have the time to check for the ball whilst sprinting down the line in the 12th inning of a tie game. Cousins first view was of Posey preparing to block the plate so of course, his first instinct would be to prepare for impact. My condolences to Posey, but this is more on him than Cousins. And let’s not forget, J.T. Snow crushed Pudge in the final play of the ’03 NLDS so there should be no one playing “holier than thou”.

@Former Catcher So… who are we to believe, a “former catcher”, or dozens of scouts and baseball people and even Posey’s teammates who all say that the play was clean. To call a dirty play just because is lazy and misinformed. If you saw the video and Cousin’s reaction it obviously wasn’t a dirty play.

Ray Fosse, who would know, said he thought it was unneccessary.

I didn’t play above high school. But I did play against a couple of future major leaguers and saw their skills, which were far better than mine. To get to that level, you have to have amazing reflexes and be able to decide in 1/10 of a second what a pitch is and whether to swing.

Posey wasn’t blocking the plate. He was in fair territory. The collision happened in FAIR territory, meaning at least half the plate was open. The hit could well have paralyzed Posey. And it happened in FAIR territory, which means Cousins had an alternative. Additionally Cousins had to turn around and touch the plate after the collision. When people can explain to me how you can score without touching the plate, I’ll believe it was a clean play.

And the attitude afterwards is just offensive. He’s really sorry that he hurt Posey but he would do it over again knowing he’d break his leg and endanger his career? If you truly felt bad about it, you’d say, “I was trying to win the game. It was the heat of the moment. Obviously, I wouldn’t have barreled in there if I knew Posey was going to break his leg. I understand some people are upset. I would be too. I hope Posey returns.”

Instead it’s I feel terrible, but I would do it again and ha I won’t be welcome back in SF.

I think that the space in front of the plate should be the catchers and no collisions in FAIR territory should be allowed. If they happen $25,000 fine, you’re automatically out, and suspended a significant length of time–1 week first incident, $50,000 and two second, etc (this way morons like Nyjer Morgan will quickly be out of baseball). I also think the same rules should apply to catchers standing in foul territory to recieve the ball or block the plate. Runner automatically safe, catcher ejected and fined, etc.

You’d still have the excitement of the tag, but it would be a lot safer. Baseball, if it doesn’t do anything, is exposed to a huge lawsuit. Let’s say there is no rule change, Cousins hits Brian McCann and McCann breaks his neck and is paralyzed (and the Posey play was way too close to that happening for comfort). You’re looking at a nine figure damages lawsuit minimum and maybe into the billions with punitive damages thrown in.

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