(As a Padres blog, it’s usually out of our jurisdiction to discuss the happenings of a Yankees/Angels game, so you’ll excuse me if this seems off-topic.)
During their game on Friday night, this happened:
(NOTE: While this isn’t a graphic video, it’s not entirely pleasing to watch)
I’m less interested in getting into a “Was it clean?” debate then I am with some of the comments after the game:
Joe Girardi, former catcher: “I’ve been run over a lot of times. Hard slides. It’s part of the trade. Your job as a catcher is to block the plate. You’ve got to keep the runner from scoring. Sometimes you get run over. I’ve gotten my nose broken, my shoulder separated. It’s all part of the game.”
Bobby Wilson, current catcher: “He was playing baseball. He was playing hard. There’s no hard feelings towards Tex. I know he wasn’t trying to hurt me. Just playing baseball. People can say whatever they want. Whether they think it was a clean play or they think it was a dirty play – that’s baseball. I know next time around, I’m telling you, I won’t back down. That’s part of the game.”
You get the idea.
If you’ve watched enough MLB Network, or any channel that gives a platform for old time baseball guys to wax nostalgic, you’ve probably heard the story of Pete Rose and Ray Fosse at the 1970 All-Star Game. It goes that in the 12th inning of the exhibition game, Charlie Hustle ran over Fosse as he blocked the plate, as old time catchers tended to do, to score the winning run. The story usually ends with a eulogy for Fosse’s career, which was never the same after the hit.
Luckily, for those involved, the part about Rose ending Fosse’s career with that hit isn’t actually true, but when you win a gunfight with Lee Marvin, facts aren’t necessarily necessary. The legend is enough, and the legend tends to glorify a hard-nosed style of baseball that scrambles brains, as the newly concussed Bobby Wilson can attest to.
My question is: Why is this type of play still legal? A concussion is a traumatic brain injury and while it’s possible for non-catchers to get concussions (just ask Corey Koskie or Edgar Gonzalez), it’s more of an inherent part of the game for them than getting run over like a tackling dummy. At no other bag would it be allowed or accepted or excused for one player to run over another simply because he was in the way, but catchers are an exception because, why? The pads they wear? Are they really built to protect from the impact of being bulldozed by a 220 pound man?
I know baseball is a game that idolizes its past, but that doesn’t mean we have to continue living in it. With everything we know about head injuries, what’s the point of keeping plays like this legal?