Ray Fosse doesn’t think you can change the rules regarding catcher collisions


If there is one person whose opinion of the Buster Posey injury is worth hearing it’s Ray Fosse. Who, if you’re unaware, suffered a pretty bad injury that seriously impacted his career when, as a 23-year-old, he was bowled over at home plate by Pete Rose in the 1970 All-Star Game.

It’s worth noting, though, that criticism of Rose’s collision with Fosse rarely centers on the notion of whether it’s OK to run into catcher in an absolute sense, but rather, whether Rose was right to do so in an exhibition game.  Indeed, for years you’ve heard this play cited an example of Pete Rose’s style of play, often admiringly, though with some qualification due to the fact that an injury was involved. So basically, no, there has not been anything approaching consistency about when such a play is a hard-nosed play and when it’s something that demands changes to the rule book.

And for what it’s worth, Fosse, in an interview with the San Francisco Chronicle, said that he is not that impressed with calls to change the rules:

“The game has been around more than 100 years, and now they’re going to start protecting catchers? I can’t see anything that can be changed. In high school, you can’t run over a catcher. But that’s high school. This is professional baseball. The idea is to score runs. If the catcher has the ball and he’s standing there, the runner has to stop? Is that the protection? I can’t believe anything can be done, and I don’t see how you could regulate something like that.”

My first reaction yesterday was pretty much this. Not the part about “the game has been around for 100 years,” because tradition is a dumb reason not to fix something if it can be fixed.  But I do agree that cutting down on catcher injuries is less an issue for the rule book and more an issue for player training. Train runners to look for the open alley to the plate rather than assume they have to hit the catcher (which Scott Cousins could have done).  Train catchers to be content with a swipe tag if it’s available rather than risk bodily injury.

The best it seems you can do from a rules perspective is to give the umpires the authority to call a runner out automatically if, in coming into the plate, he goes out of his way to put an unnecessary hit on a catcher, much the same way that you’d call a runner out for leaving the base line. If you want to add something more punitive to it, eject him and/or make it a postgame disciplinary matter like we do with bean balls.

That still makes it a judgment call on the umpire’s part, and I’m always hesitant to give them more judgment calls, but I think that’s way preferable to a massive tinkering with rules or by banning contact with a catcher in all instances or what have you.

Madison Bumgarner diagnosed with fractured left hand

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Giants ace left-hander Madison Bumgarner sustained a displaced fracture of the fifth metacarpal of his left hand on Friday. He’ll undergo surgery on Saturday to insert pins in his pinky knuckle, a procedure that could require a four- to six-week recovery period before he’s cleared to throw again. According to ESPN’s Buster Olney, Bumgarner’s total recovery time is expected to take 6-8 weeks. In a best-case scenario, the lefty said he should be able to pitch again before the All-Star break, but given the amount of time and care it’ll take for him to shoulder a full workload, it’s unclear whether he’ll be able to do so.

Bumgarner suffered the fracture during the third inning of Friday’s Cactus League game against the Royals. Whit Merrifield returned a line drive up the middle and the ball deflected off the top of Bumgarner’s pitching hand before bouncing into the infield. He chased after the ball but was unable to pick it up, and was immediately visited by manager Bruce Bochy and a team trainer before exiting the game.

The 28-year-old southpaw was gearing up for a massive comeback after losing significant playing time with an injury in 2017. During his tumultuous run with the Giants last year, he missed nearly three months on the disabled list after spraining his shoulder and bruising his ribs in a dirt bike accident. He finished the season with a 4-9 record in 17 starts and a 3.32 ERA (his first 3.00+ ERA since 2012), 1.6 BB/9 and 8.2 SO/9 over 111 innings. Without him, the Giants suffered as well; by season’s end, their pitching staff ranked seventh-worst in the National League with a cumulative 4.58 ERA and 10.1 fWAR.

This is the second massive injury the Giants’ rotation has sustained this week after right-hander Jeff Samardzija was diagnosed with a strained pectoral muscle on Thursday. “Horrible news for us,” Bochy told reporters after Friday’s game. “That’s all you can say about it. There’s nothing you can do but push on.”