Oh No Don’t Hit My Catcher: GM’s Changing Their Tune on Blocking the Plate


Image taken from Google Imgaes via the Bleacher Report



My, oh my, how times have changed. Twenty years ago if the baseball world could have heard the conversations over the past week about whether or not catchers should block the plate, many would have thought the baseball people just got soft. That being said, probably the worst reason not to change something is because it has always been that way. This doesn’t work in business, finance, entertainment and almost every part of normal life, so why should it be that way in baseball?

Ever since Florida Marlins rookie Scott Cousins did what he was taught his entire life and tried to score despite the catcher blocking the plate, the baseball world has been turned upside down. It was a rough play, yes, but was it serious enough to change baseball history? Well, apparently so. On one hand it’s sad that it took a golden boy like San Francisco Giants’ star Buster Posey to get rolled over for any changes to happen. How many no name catchers have had their careers affected by these types of plays without the world crumbling down? On the other hand though, this too, mirrors life.

Even so, Cousins was doing what he thought was right. Not only does he have to live with the guilt of knowing he may have negatively affected a colleagues entire career, but he has been continually receiving death threats since the incident.  On the one hand, passion is what makes sports fans so great, but things like this make sports fans look like crazy people.

No one is arguing that Cousins wanted to hurt Posey or that it is a good thing that he did get hurt and is now out for the season, but for a man’s life to be threatened because he was doing what his boss told him to do is absolutely ridiculous.

With everyone waiting for the heads of baseball to make a decision, Oakland Athletics General Manager Billy Beane did the smart thing, as usual, and publicly told his catcher not to worry about blocking the plate. Now that rock star GM Beane has gone public, other GMs have followed suit to tell their catchers they are too important to risk their lives trying to save one run.

Ironically, the people who are the happiest in all of this are probably not the catchers, but actually the runners. Although they are the ones inflicting the pain, all they are doing is trying to reach their goal. They will now know that when they round third base, there is a good chance there won’t be a super human athlete waiting to be plowed over. Rather, he will be standing to the side waiting to apply a sweep tag.

Overall, this issue coming to light is a good thing for the game. If GMs and managers start to allow their catchers to be more cautious on the field it could prolong careers and keep key players on the field for the stretch runs of the season. The sad part is that it took a superstar like Posey getting run over to make it all happen.

Former Cleveland Indian Ray Fosse must be looking on as if he is chopped liver as he got run over by one of the most well-known players in the history of the game, during the All Star Game, and no discussion of a change in culture followed. Maybe all baseball needed was for some fresh minds to look at the game from a new perspective. While sabermetrics has provided a new way to statistically look at the game, maybe that way of thinking has helped contribute in a positive manner in other ways such as this as well.


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  1. hlarie

    June 11, 2011 at 10:21 am

    You are uninformed. Posey was not blocking the plate. Posey was three feet in front of the plate, up the first baseline, kneeling to field a thrown ball from right field, twisting his upper body around towards the runner to make a sweep tag.

    The only relationship the Posey injury has to the question of “blocking the plate” is the constant drumbeat of “I only see what I want to see” hacks. Yes, Cousins did what he was trained to do. And no, no rule change is needed.

    What Cousins did is already illegal under current rules. Those rules aren’t enforced. Under MLB rules, a fielder cannot obstruct the runner’s path to the base and a runner cannot interfere with a defender making a play on a ball. There is no exception or special status for home plate.

    And it hasn’t “always been this way.” Violent collisions at the plate came into fashion in the 70’s. They were against the rules then, just as they are now. The issue isn’t blocking the plate. The issue is blockheads.

  2. Bill Jordan

    June 13, 2011 at 8:02 pm

    Just to make sure, I went back and watched the play half a dozen more times. While one could make the argument that he was directly in front of the plate and then moved towards the third baseline, so he was not blocking the entire base path, the argument that he was three feet down the first base path could only be made if the arguer didnt want to win.

    The fact is if Cousins would have tried to run around Posey and he would have been called out, Cousins would have been blasted for not giving his full effort and trying to score. Not only did Cousins score, but he then got blasted for making a legal play.

    Even if this did come into vogue in the 1970s, that would mean it has been going on as long as all current MLB players were aware of the game of baseball.

    Thanks for your opinion. Other perspectives are always welcome.

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