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The Bipartisan Battle Over Home Plate

BUSTER-POSEY-INJURY

Like a hotly debated topic in congress, Major League Baseball’s plan to ban home plate collisions has created bipartisanship amongst baseball fans.

The conservative faction believes that baseball should stick to its history, and that home plate collisions have long been one of the most exciting plays in a sport so deeply rooted in American tradition. Making such a haste decision like that would be simply un-American. This notion is no surprise to me. After all, when did conservatives ever like change or more governing regulations? They believe that the strongest will survive on their own and that the players don’t need as much “babysitting” from the league. The problem is that conservatives often only see one side of the argument. They think that the play at the plate ends there. However, the other side of the aisle tends to see the bigger picture.

The liberal party’s de facto leader, and manager of the San Francisco Giants (of course, the liberal from San Francisco!), Bruce Bochy, has been outspoken about banning home plate collisions. Some say that he is biased because he was standing a mere 30 yards away when his franchise catcher was eliminated at the plate by Florida Marlins center fielder Scott Cousins back in 2011. As most remember, Giants catcher Buster Posey lay on the ground, writhing in pain. Minutes later he was carried off to his inevitable doom of a season ending injury to repair his broken leg and three torn ligaments in his ankle. Graphic and gruesome, the memory of that play has lingered with many fans. It most certainly stuck with Bruce Bochy, a staunch advocate of the bigger picture.

Bruce Bochy was not only rattled by seeing his best player possibly suffering a career-altering injury, he was reminded of his own days as a catcher. Bochy spent his twelve seasons in the Majors squatting behind the plate for the likes of the Houston Astros, New York Mets, and the San Diego Whales’…err…Padres. (Tip: If you didn’t know that Bochy was a catcher, just watch him walk out to the mound the next time the Giants play.) As a longtime backstop, he was on the wrong side of far too many collisions and therefore feels the responsibility to lead the charge against one of baseball’s most popular plays. Much like a liberal, Bochy is calling for change.

While baseball has always been known to cling to its traditions, this type of change has been rampant in other sports. The change that I’m talking about is protecting the sports’ most vulnerable players. The NFL has banned many types of hits against the quarterback (players who are often looking down the field and not at his attackers) and players, usually receivers, which they deem to be “defenseless”.  The NBA has banned hard fouls against players that are attacking the basket in midair, and thus have limited control over their body. The NHL has banned defensive players from hitting the opposition directly from the behind, a play that often results in automatic ejection. Even in its own sport, baseball has banned base runners from sliding into second base with the obvious intent of going after the second baseman. How then, can anybody oppose the movement to protect one of the most vulnerable players in all of sports—a catcher awaiting a play at the plate?  Much like a quarterback, the catcher is not focused in on the opposing player. Rather, he is looking to receive the ball from the outfielder or cutoff man. He can only protect himself so much (with the protective gear and proper positioning) from the oncoming traffic. But even with the proper prior planning, physics usually wins; and in this situation, physics is on the side of the man running full speed and not on the side of the man squatting and looking away.

While the baseball conservatives faithfully believe the strongest will survive (and they probably will), the liberals are thinking about the greater good. They want to protect those who are most vulnerable, because if they can’t, who will? If not Bochy—a former catcher himself—then whom? For the sake of the catchers, let’s hope Bochycare has more success than Obamacare.

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