Buster Posey - It's Not Baseball

[Aside: here is the most pathetic defense of running over the catcher I can imagine, which prompted me to write this piece.]

Every sport institutionalizes things that would make no sense in any other sport. 

Could you imagine modern football players wearing only punter facemasks - or no facemasks at all - and then pulling their helmets off and fighting on the field?  The same thing is defended as part of the game of hockey.

Could you imagine hockey players constantly diving whenever an opposing player even touches them in the offensive zone and having sportscasters describe "selling" a dive as an important skill?  But this "is" soccer.

How about getting in your opponent's face, yelling and screaming and beating your chest after you score?  You'd get a penalty in football, and start a fight in hockey or baseball.  In basketball, we see it all the time.

But it seems to me that there's some sense in these sports - when a hockey player is seriously injured in a fight or injures an eye due to an errant stick, people reconsider what's "hockey."  Sixty years ago, no goalie wore a facemask; thirty years ago, the players fought mandatory helmets; to this day, there are restrictions even on half face shields...And yet we see players wearing full face shields at most levels of hockey (I have all my teeth) and we even see injured players wearing them in the NHL.  It's a slow road, and the Manny Malhotra and Bryan Berard injuries didn't shock the system into a sea change.

Baseball, on the other hand, has institutionalized cheap shots.  Think about it - in the NFL, can you intentionally run over the punter after he kicks the ball?  Can you drill a kick returner when he's calling for a fair catch?  Can you crush the quarterback when he doesn't have the ball?  In hockey, can you run the goalie?  Can you get a full head of steam and hit a guy who doesn't have the puck?  You *could* do all over these things, but they're not just penalties, they're so far outside the bounds of acceptable behavior that you'd either get kicked out of the game and possibly suspended or get beaten up by your opponent.

But when Scott Cousins took out Buster Posey at the plate, like so many runners have before, did his teammates express any sense of outrage?  Did Miguel Tejada or Aubrey Huff come charging down the line and start pounding on Cousins?  Not a chance - in the article I linked to, Freddy Sanchez, one of Posey's teammates, said it was "a clean play."  The only guy who seems to want revenge is Giants' broadcaster Mike Krukow, who says he would throw at Cousins the next time the GIants play the Marlins.

Which is, of course, another one of baseball's institutionalized cheap shots.

The only defense we see of both of these idiotic plays is that "it's baseball."  Well, it used to be "baseball" to spike your opponents every time you slid into a base, or even as you passed them on the basepaths.  It used to be "football" to grab your opponent's facemask when you tackled him.  How long would a defensive back last today if he played like that? (Seriously, watch the video in the previous link.  Dick "Night Train" Lane is unbelievable.)

Something "is" part of a sport only until the day that it's not.  And allowing players to deliberately injure each other is something that shouldn't be part of any sport.

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