Bruce Bochy: Joe Maddon doesn’t know what he’s talking about regarding catcher collisions

47 Comments

Joe Maddon is not a fan of any of the rules aimed at protecting fielders from aggressive slides from baserunners. He doesn’t like the rule about breakup slides at second base — he’s reacted angrily when his own baserunners have been involved in controversies surrounding the application of that rule — and he doesn’t like the rule aimed at stopping collisions at home.

Yesterday Joe Maddon took to the airwaves on Chicago’s 670 The Score to defend Anthony Rizzo’s slide into Austin Hedges on Monday night. In the course of his interview, he took new aim at the catcher collision rule, chalking it all up to Buster Posey‘s season ending injury in 2011:

“I’m really confused by why it gained so much attention only except for the fact that Buster Posey got hurt a couple years ago. Other than that, if it was a third-string catcher for the Atlanta Braves that got hurt three years ago, this (rule) wouldn’t even be in existence . . . it’s all precipitated by one play that happened several years ago that to me was just bad technique on the part of the catcher, so that’s where I get really flustered by this conversation, because to me it should not even exist.”

Someone told Giants Bruce Bochy about Maddon’s comments. He didn’t refer to Maddon by name, but his response was pretty pointed for the usually friendly world of manager-on-manager discourse. From the San Francisco Chronicle:

“I don’t really care to visit it. I don’t. Anybody who goes into that, they don’t know what they’re talking about where Buster was at on that play . . . I wish the guys who make these comments were standing there when Todd Greene got hurt and say the same thing.”

Greene was the Giants catcher in the mid-2000s whose career was cut short by a shoulder injury after Prince Fielder plowed into him at home.

Maddon is not entirely wrong with his reference to Posey. The catcher collision rule did not go into effect until three years after Posey’s injury, so it certainly wasn’t some kneejerk reaction to him breaking his leg, but it is fair to say that Posey’s injury significantly moved the ball forward with respect to protecting catchers. Indeed, the conversation about all of that was almost nonexistent before Posey’s injury. Todd Greene did not get people talking about it, that’s for sure. Posey’s injury did.

Beyond that narrow point, however, Maddon is full of crap here. For one thing, Posey did not break his leg because of “bad technique.” He broke it because Scott Cousins intentionally slammed into him while trying to score. A legal play at the time but one which was going to lead inevitably to serious injury. It was a bad setup all around which the collision rule was designed to eradicate. Has it done it perfectly? No, it’s a hard rule to implement, but it’s a step in the right direction.

Beyond that, laying all of this at Buster Posey’s feet, or the feet of a league that allegedly overreacted due to the injury of a superstar, is dumb. Whatever the impetus for the rule — and if it wasn’t Posey, it certainly would’ve been someone else given the radical shift in opinion about concussions and sports injuries in general — it’s a smart rule. Baseball is not a contact sport and a catcher-runner collision is not some necessary part of the game, even if it had become a customary one.

Joe Maddon is a pretty smart guy who gets a lot of kudos for being an open-minded innovator. But this old school streak of his regarding collisions is wrongheaded.

Young Blue Jays say they aren’t intimidated by top seed Rays

Blue Jays roster and schedule
Getty Images
Leave a comment

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) When the Tampa Bay Rays and Toronto Blue Jays opened the pandemic-delayed season a little over two months ago, there was little to indicate the AL East rivals might meet again to begin the playoffs.

While the Rays launched the truncated 60-game schedule with expectations of making a strong bid for their first division title in a decade, the Blue Jays generally were viewed as an immensely talented young team still years away from postseason contention.

Tampa Bay didn’t disappoint, shrugging off a slow start to go a league-best 40-20 and claim the No. 1 seed in the AL playoffs that begin Tuesday.

Lefty Blake Snell, who’ll start Game 1 of the best-of-three wild-card series against Toronto at Tropicana Field, also isn’t surprised that the eighth-seeded Blue Jays earned a spot, too.

The Rays won six of 10 games between the teams during the regular season, but were outscored 48-44 and outhomered 17-11.

And while Toronto (32-28) lacks the playoff experience Tampa Bay gained last season when the Rays beat Oakland in the AL wild-card game before falling to Houston in the divisional round, the Blue Jays are building with exciting young players such as Cavan Biggio, Bo Bichette and Vladimir Guerrero Jr.

“They’ve got a lot of young guys who can ball over there,” Snell said. “It’s going to be fun to compete and see how we do.”

Rays defensive whiz Kevin Kiermaier said Tampa Bay, in the playoffs in consecutive seasons for the second time franchise history, will not take the Blue Jays lightly.

“We know we’re playing a real good team,” Kiermaier said. “It’s not going to be easy, regardless of what a team is seeded.”

The Blue Jays, who’ll start right-hander Matt Shoemaker, aren’t conceding anything.

Bichette said he and his teammates respect how good Tampa Bay is, but are not intimidated by facing the No. 1 seed.

“I would say that we didn’t care who we played. I would say that we didn’t mind playing Tampa, that’s for sure. We’re familiar with them. We’ve played them well,” Bichette said.

“I think we’re confident in our ability against them. Our talent matches up well,” Bichette added. “We think if we play well we’ve got a good chance.”

NO FANS

The stands at Tropicana Field will be empty, leaving players to wonder what the atmosphere will be like for the playoffs.

Tampa Bay routinely rank at or near the bottom of the majors in attendance, but usually pack the stands in the domed stadium during the postseason.

“It will be different,” Bichette said. “Normally when you think of your first postseason you think 40,000, you think about not being able to think it’s so loud, stuff like that.”

The Blue Jays open the playoffs near where they hold spring training in Dunedin, Florida. It’s been a winding road for Toronto, which played its home games in Buffalo, New York, at the site of its Triple-A affiliate after the Canadian government barred the Blue Jays from hosting games at their own stadium because of coronavirus concerns.

CONFIDENT RAYS

Tampa Bay’s five-game loss to Houston in last year’s divisional round was a source of motivation during the regular season.

“It definitely lit a fire under everybody. It really showed us we belong. … We gave them a tough series,” second baseman Brandon Lowe said.

“We won the wild-card game. We belong in the postseason. I think that did a lot for us to understand that we should be in the postseason and we can go a lot farther. We know what to expect this time around. I think everyone in our clubhouse expects to be playing until the end of October,” he said.

CLOSE FRIENDS

Tampa Bay manager Kevin Cash has the Rays in the playoffs for the second time. His close friend and former Rays third base and bench coach Charlie Montoyo is in his second year as manager of the Blue Jays, who last made the playoffs in 2016.

“Pretty special,” Cash said of his relationship with Montoyo.

“I really learned a lot from him being around him. The way he carried himself. His hand print is throughout this organization,” Cash added. “A pretty big impact and a positive one. … When they clinched I talked to him, we face-timed at 1:30 in the morning. I’m so happy for him.”