LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 01: San Francisco Giants manager Bruce Bochy sits in the dugout during the game against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium on April 1, 2011 in Los Angeles, California. The Dodgers defeated the Giants 4-3. (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Bruce Bochy
Bruce Bochy's life has been pretty altered by Buster Posey's recent season-ending injury.
Not as altered as Posey's life, of course, but having to write "Eli Whiteside" next to "C" every night is pretty close to "not being able to walk for six months or so," right?
I kid, of course, but Bochy's had it kind of tough, losing his best hitter for the year. Which may explain why, according to Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury-News, he gave an impassioned (and lengthy!) speech.
“I think it’s time to look into doing something for the catchers,” Bochy said. “And the reason I say that, I mean, these guys are getting bigger, stronger and faster, and the number of injuries that are happening to these catchers, if you look over the last three years, there have been a dozen serious injuries – busted knees, ankles, two fractured ankles this week, concussions. It’s getting to a point I think we need to explore doing something to protect these catchers."
Bochy pointed out that changes were made "at second base" when infielders were targeted, as well as "with hitters thrown at" and noted that football's taken steps with "protecting the quarterbacks and receivers."
He also compared the play at the plate to "almost a fair catch."
"Now, a catcher’s defenseless," Bochy said, comparing someone like Posey to a punt returner. "He’s trying to catch the ball, and Buster wasn’t blocking home plate.
"This guy had two paths to go and he elected to go after Buster and speared him. Buster has no chance there. He’s trying to catch the ball."
Of course, the difference in baseball and football is that a punt returner has the option of not getting bowled over if it's not necessary.
As we saw with the Scott Cousins incident, if a runner wants to take out a catcher -- even if said catcher is not in his path -- he can do so.
But should that equate to fines or suspensions? Well, Bochy's not opposed to the possibility.
“Well, he’d automatically be out, but I think even more than that, a suspension,” Bochy said. “I just think you’ve got to have an area for a catcher where he’s not so blown up, because it’s the toughest play in baseball, and you don’t have the protection you have in other sports, like hockey and football. They say in football the pads absorb 40 percent of the blow. Well the catching gear doesn’t do that. I think we’ve had enough guys busted up."
I'd agree wholeheartedly. Suspensions aren't something that have to automatically be handed out if a runner hits a catcher. It's something the league can determine after the fact.
But if there are fines and suspensions sitting out there as possible punishments for unnecessarily hitting a catcher on a play at the plate, you can bet that everyone headed in from 90 feet out will think twice before launching themselves at the guy in the mask, especially if he's not in their way.