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June 3, 2011

Prospectus Perspective

Sabean Takes on the Catcher-Collision Problem

by Larry Granillo

On Thursday, San Francisco Giants' general manager Brian Sabean took to the airwaves in the Bay Area to tell how he really feels about Scott Cousins, the Florida Marlins player who injured Buster Posey in a home plate collision last week. This is what Sabean had to say:

"If I never hear from Cousins again or he never plays another game in the big leagues, I think we’ll all be happy. ... He chose to be a hero in my mind, and if that’s his flash of fame, that’s as good as it’s going to get, pal. We’ll have a long memory. Believe me, we’ve talked to (former catcher Mike) Matheny about how this game works. You can’t be that out-and-out overly aggressive. I’ll put it as politically as I can state it: There’s no love lost and there shouldn’t be."

Tell us how you really feel, Sabean. Seems awfully serious. I can only imagine, then, that Sabean gave Pablo Sandoval a similar lecture after this play last year:

Ryan Doumit was more directly in the basepath than Buster Posey was during his collision (though not by much), and Sandoval's collision was a little less violent than Cousins', but there is nothing here that is drastically different than the Cousins/Posey shot. Sandoval was clearly going for Doumit's body in an effort to dislodge the ball and he passed up a very obvious hook slide opportunity to do so. The only difference is that Doumit played his position better, not only retrieving the ball quicker but also positioning himself into a safer position.

But maybe Sabean didn't see that Sandoval/Doumit collision the same as me. Clearly, then, he called for reform of the plate-blocking rules when this happened:

In 2006, rookie Prince Fielder collided with Giants catcher Todd Greene (see the video - sorry, no embed!). Greene was standing on the basepath, moving up towards third while catching the ball when he met Fielder two steps from the plate. Greene laid on the ground for about five minutes before walking off under his own power. He stayed out of the lineup for a few days before finishing the season with the Giants. Sabean must have railed against Major League Baseball then, at least. After all, we all know this Posey situation isn't being blown out of proportion because of Posey's marketability and talent. That would be absurd and disingenuous.

What's that? Felipe Alou, the Giants' manager at the time went on the record about the hit? That's got to be good.

"Baseball, pure baseball. Hardball," Alou said.

And what about Greene himself?

"I think it's a clean play. He plays hard, and I hope he continues to play hard. It just sucks that he was safe. I felt I held onto the ball long enough. Obviously, I didn't. I remember thinking clearly I had to show (the umpire) the ball. I thought I tried to."


Okay. But the Olympics will be different. There's no room for hard-nosed shenanigans during that kind of event.

The video shows 2008 Team USA player (and Giants farmhand) Nate Schierholtz plowing through China's catcher Yang Yang in an attempt to score. Yang is standing in a similar position to where Posey was standing last week, but the Schierholtz hit is much harder than Cousins' hit. I can't find any comments from Sabean about the Olympics hit, but then-hitting coach Carney Lansford did say "I wish more of our guys would play like that up here." The sit-down meeting with Schierholtz, where Sabean told him that he hoped his career would be short and that the organization has a long memory, must have been behind closed doors and private. It's the only explanation.

I understand the pain and loss the Giants are going through with Posey's injury right now, especially considering it could have been avoided. I'm still having a hard time seeing as how it's any different than Carlos Santana's injury last year, though, or any of a hundred more just like it. I guess it's a good thing Sabean has had such a consistent, strong opinion about it over the years. That kind of resolve can really effect change.

Oh wait...

68 comments have been left for this article. (Click to hide comments)

BP Comment Quick Links


Wow. That was as thorough and complete a take-down as I've seen in some time. Bravo, sir.

Jun 02, 2011 21:41 PM
rating: 24

Have you seen Ryan Doumit? He's weird looking. Todd Greene is kind of ordinary, and the Chinese catcher was just a guy. And the number of lepers cured by all three *combined* wouldn't even reach Posey's total from last year.

Apples to oranges. I remember when BP used to stand for honesty and objectivity.

Jun 02, 2011 21:43 PM
rating: 16

Know your audience. This ain't McCovey Cove Chronicles.

Jun 03, 2011 07:55 AM
rating: 0

Um, dude, you need to get your sarcam meter checked- that was clearly an attempt at humor.

(great article, Larry!)

Jun 03, 2011 08:01 AM
rating: 2

I did get it, and I think the audience at MCC would too, but they know Grant's work and his byline.

Jun 03, 2011 08:12 AM
rating: 0
BP staff member Jason Collette
BP staff


Besides, we all know that if Scott Cousins is without a job at 38, Sabean will give him a 2 year deal.

Jun 02, 2011 21:46 PM


Jun 03, 2011 11:00 AM
rating: 12
Dan McKay

I think you're judging Sabean way too harshly here. Posey was on the infield side of the base line when he was hit.

1.) In the Sandoval hit, the catcher is in front of the plate. Different situation.

2.) For the Greene hit, you quote Felipe Alou. If you want to hammer Sabean for hypocrisy, you ought to do it with his own comments.

3.) For the Schierholtz collision, you again quote someone other than Sabean.

Jun 02, 2011 21:48 PM
rating: 0

You are failing to realize that Larry's point is why didn't Sabean comment to MLB or threaten the runner whom collided with his catcher during these previous collisions?

Just because this time it happens to be to his superstar doesn't make his threat of Cousins or ridiculous comments more acceptable.

Jun 03, 2011 06:40 AM
rating: 7
Dan McKay

I just think that if we're going to brand Sabean a hypocrite, we ought to use his own words to do it, not those of Alou or Lansford.

I realize that reasonable people can disagree about this sort of thing.

Jun 03, 2011 08:42 AM
rating: 0
BP staff member Larry Granillo
BP staff

I feel the Alou and Lansford quotes were fair because, as manager and hitting coach, they speak for the organization just as much as Sabean does. If they were out of line with the organization's philosophy, something would have been said by a higher-up (like Sabean).

As for #1, I don't think the difference between Doumit and Posey is all that stark. Compare their feet and knees to the batter's boxes and home plate. Doumit looks different because he pulled his left leg out from under him and planted it where it should be - his knee, however, is in about the same spot. Doumit had also properly shifted his weight. Cousins, however, had no way of knowing that Posey wouldn't shift himself properly by the time they collided. Split-second decisions make things difficult.

Jun 03, 2011 08:57 AM
Dan McKay

OK, fair enough.

Jun 03, 2011 09:42 AM
rating: 0
Matt Kory

Sabean is clearly being hypocritical, but isn't he supposed to be? I'm not defending his asinine comments, but the sentiment behind them. He's paid to put this team together and to expect him to not side strongly (and, in this case, too strongly) with his side is naive. Again, this doesn't make what he said about another player's career acceptable.

The real problem to me isn't the hypocrisy, but the threat. Sabean out-and-out promised retaliation against Cousins. You can't have GMs publicly calling for their players to attack and potentially injure other players. That is something MLB needs to look into. It should be nipped in the bud.

Jun 03, 2011 00:06 AM
rating: 13

Sabean needs to be fined for this imo.

Jun 03, 2011 06:50 AM
rating: 7
Tim Carvin

That is fantastic. Larry has been an awesome addition to BP and this is my favorite thing he's done yet.

Jun 03, 2011 03:57 AM
rating: 10

I am absolutely with you on this Larry. Sabean shouldn't be doing this just because his best offensive player became affected.

How many weeks ago did this happen and Sabean is just now making this comment? He's seriously still this angry/upset over this?

Where is his professionalism or maturity?

I don't recall the Indians crying a river when Santana got leveled at the plate last year.

Jun 03, 2011 06:41 AM
rating: 0

Larry rocks. I've been collecting items for my Larry Granillo shrine and I'm scouring the net now for a Sabean voodoo doll. It'll go nicely with my potato shaped like Babe Ruth's body, my County Stadium 1/2000 scale model, autographed Joe Shlabotnik baseball card, and Ferris Bueller's Day Off VHS tape. Now if Jon Daniels will just go on record saying "We'll have a long memory, and that Tim Lincecum guy is toast after what he did to us last year.", then the stars will be aligned and I'll know that 2012 is indeed the year of the apocalypse.

Larry - since you're becoming a celebrity and all with all these shrines and stuff going up, is the "ll" in your last name an anglicized pronunciation or a Spanish pronunciation sounding like a "y"?

Oh yeah, most importantly to Mr. Goldman. The man needs a raise. :-)

Jun 03, 2011 08:05 AM
rating: 0
BP staff member Larry Granillo
BP staff

Thanks for the (much too) kind words. Where do I send the check again?

And, since you're the first person to ask, I pronounce it as if the "ll" wasn't there (like most people do with "tortilla" or "Castillo").

Jun 03, 2011 09:01 AM

On the Todd Greene collision, what you don't mention is that it occurred in the last days of the season, so the DL was not even thought of. He didn't have it fully checked out until the season was over, and it turned out that from a baseball point of view his right shoulder was basically destroyed. There was no way to repair it such that he would be able to throw.

There would have been different quotes from Alou and/or Sabean if they had been asked about it after finding out the extent of the damage.

Jun 03, 2011 08:48 AM
rating: -3
BP staff member Larry Granillo
BP staff

The Todd Greene collision happened on May 5. Greene played the rest of the season. Maybe there was another collision you're thinking of? And don't forget, Greene himself had no problem with it.

Jun 03, 2011 08:59 AM
Scott Gilroy

Well done!

Jun 03, 2011 08:51 AM
rating: 0

Thank you for this article. I too was confused and appalled at Sabean's hypocritical rants and threats. I wrote to the Giants and expressed my disappointment in their GM. Sabean should be lobbying for different rules, not tossing out school-yard bully-ish comments.

Jun 03, 2011 09:20 AM
rating: 2
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Davenport has the better take. And Sabean's comments are irrelevant to the issue that needs to be addressed by MLB: cathers in these situations are defenseless and need protection. Ignoring that core issue to focus on Sabean's comments is indicative of the writer's bias.

Jun 03, 2011 09:28 AM
rating: -9
Matt Kory

Allow me to address your comments: Huh?

Jun 03, 2011 16:06 PM
rating: 5

It's unfortunate that in both of his columns on the matter, the writer has chosen to misrepresent where Posey was stationed when Cousins chose to replace home plate with Posey. As all video and photographic evidence clearly show,Posey was in fair territory, which provided Cousins with a clear lane to the plate.
The argument that there have been relatively few serious injuries due to this practice and it should therefore be legal is preposterous on the face of it. Let's not act until a carcher or runner is paralyzed, right..it needs to be tweaked, but Bochy's ideas are a start. BTW, I don't see anything in Bochy's proposal indicating that it would only protect SF catchers, do you?

Jun 03, 2011 09:50 AM
rating: -1
Ben Solow

The MLB.com video of the injury clearly shows that Posey was originally set up with his left foot in the batter's box, in front of the plate. He then slid his foot a bit to the right (although his left knee was along the foul line in front of the plate), but in fact leaned back across the base line after dropping the throw in an attempt to apply a tag -- Cousins' upper body was in fair territory, but there would have been contact even if it was directly along the foul line.

The point isn't whether a rule change is warranted (I think Davenport's right that it is), but rather that Sabean is explicitly threatening another player for the same action his players have repeatedly taken in the past with no punishment from the organization. That's hypocritical.

Jun 03, 2011 12:25 PM
rating: 6
Dave Holgado

I clicked on a link to this article expecting to find some contradictory quotes from Sabean relating to past collision-at-the-plate incidents, similar to what the "Daily Show" so often does with politicians. No such luck. Sabean's comments regarding Cousins were ridiculous, of course, but you've scarcely proven that they were hypocritical.

Any GM who loses his best and most popular position player for several months due to injury from a rough (albeit legal) play at the plate might be expected to express his frustration on the record, if only because he's probably been asked for comment by umpteen reporters every day for the last week. That he didn't also go on record with similar comments when, in a game not involving the Giants, a catcher takes a hit from one of his farmhands on a play at the plate (but apparently suffers no serious injury) proves nothing.

This article detracts from the real issue to be discussed just as much as Sabean's ill-advised comments do.

Jun 03, 2011 09:51 AM
rating: 0
Dave Holgado
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That this garnered negative ratings is a frigging joke. The article is so beneath even the most basic of journalistic standards that anyone who defends it, IMO, is a Kool-Aid drinker of the worst kind. Probably also a Tater Trot Time fan. Not wishing to be negative, but what happened to my BP?

To be clear, if this were a court of law, the "evidence" presented against Mr. Sabean would be so inadequate to sustain a charge of hypocrisy that a judge would have to enter a directed verdict dismissing the case. It's embarrassing to read on this site, and even more embarrassing to see it given credence, not only by various commenters, but by high profile baseball writers such as Neyer. To you all: Know Better!

Jun 03, 2011 19:19 PM
rating: -6

Hypocrisy, defined by Merriam-Webster:
"a feigning to be what one is not or to believe what one does not"

Good thing this isn't a court of law, nor is Mr Granillo trying to have Mr Sabean indicted. The article does show Mr Sabean's comments are hypocritical, as per a common definition, if not meeting the legal criteria, whatever those are.

Your initial comment deserved to be minus because it can be summarized as follows:

- his comments are not explicitly contradictory
- he was in a position to be angry, so its alright he said something dumb
- you (the author) are just as bad in detracting from the 'right' conversation to be having

My initial paragraph covers the first two points. As per the last point, it is not Mr Granillo's job to speak on behalf of baseball, baseball fans, or any other group that could be seen as Mr Sabean's adversary during this debate. Therefore he has no responsibility to work towards a positive result. Mr Sabean does, given his position. By pointing out the falsehoods of Mr Sabean's position, the author makes a relevant argument, even if it does not provide for a better solution.

I guess "your BP" didn't include carefully-researched, well-written articles about the daily happenings in baseball. Maybe if Mr Granillo put the quotes in a chart form, and threw in a couple diagrams you'd feel less dirty about enjoying the article!

Jun 04, 2011 06:12 AM
rating: 1
Dave Holgado

It's very simple. You don't write an article accusing someone of being a hypocrite without a lick of proof that this is so. The logical fallacy of tagging Sabean for failing to say what he said this time when something similar happened last time is self-evident. As is the illogic of tagging him with responsibility for comments of other people affiliated with the Giants. (Should we assume that everyone on the Orioles is a crazy birther wingnut simply because Luke Scott is?) There's no defending what Sabean actually said, but berating him for what he never said is equally indefensible.

Think of it this way. What was the chance that Larry was going to look back through the history of the Giants during Sabean's tenure as GM and *not* find examples of collisions at the plate as to which Sabean didn't make a comment on the record? Zero. In fact, you could have picked *any* team and *any* GM over that same time period, and found the same thing. This should have been a sign to Larry that his reasoning was inherently flawed, and that the shots he wished to take at Sabean were as cheap as the ones Sabean took at Cousins. It's a hatchet job, and it is not fit for BP.

Jun 04, 2011 08:02 AM
rating: -1
Joe D.

"In fact, you could have picked *any* team and *any* GM over that same time period, and found the same thing..."

Precisely...except it's not "any GM" berating Scott Cousins ("flash of fame...good as it's going to get...") and openly wishing his career would end. It's Sabean.

The career ending part is especially ironic, seeing as Nate Schierholtz -- who demolished a catcher in a fashion at least as flagrant as that of Cousins -- continues to be employed by the Giants.

If we could find some proof that Sabean has previously been critical of runners slamming into catchers (not just Posey), then I'd cheerfully change my opinion on his hypocrisy.

In short, I personally view the facts of the case this way:
* Cousins levels Posey
* Sabean berates Cousins, hopes his career ends
* Schierholtz levels Not-Posey
* Sabean employs Schierholtz (ie. "Have a career with us!")
* Sabean is silent on other, similar levelings that involve his team

I can see, perhaps, how people would view this all through different lenses. I can't see this being a "hatchet job" or drinking the "kool-aid." There's a strong, val;id case for Sabean being a hypocrite here.

Jun 04, 2011 09:39 AM
rating: 4

Granillo May 27:
"One thing I'll advise against: using the testimony of past players to prove your point"
Granillo June 3:
"And don't forget, Greene himself had no problem with it."

Jun 03, 2011 10:11 AM
rating: 0
BP staff member Larry Granillo
BP staff

The May 27 post was referring to retired players speaking about "back in their day", when their memory and their romanticized view of their youth can corrupt the truth.

Even so, I can retract the Greene statement you quoted and not feel any different. I was just referring to wizstan's mention that the quotes would be different if they knew the extent of the damage (since Greene would understand that better than anyone).

Jun 03, 2011 10:27 AM

On the left is Cousins, Posey to the right...Sorry, wait. That's, uh, Tatum and..
Buster was lucky.

Jun 03, 2011 10:58 AM
rating: -1
Matthew Avery

Good article pointing out the hypocrisy with which these issues are dealt. But I think it misses the broader point which is, IMO, home plate collissions are dangerous to the point of absurdity and have no real role in the game of baseball. It makes no sense that you're allowed to try to knock a guy unconcious an an effort to dislodge a baseball, but only when you're trying to get to home plate.

You see star players like Brian McCann and Buster Posey miss significant time because of this. The home plate collission is the dumbest part of baseball that I know of. Watching batters try to slide around tags is WAY more interesting IMO than watching them pretend they're playing football.

Jun 03, 2011 11:26 AM
rating: 10

I think Johnny Bench agrees with you ...


... but I bet you two disagree about how to make that happen. I think Johnny's got it right: teach the catchers how to stay out of the way!

Jun 10, 2011 06:55 AM
rating: 0

I speak as a third-generation Giants fan when I say that Sabean has said something really regrettable here. Almost dumbfounding, actually...particularly in the wake of the Bryan Stow tragedy.

Billy Beane is treading a much better path, by publicly instructing Kurt Suzuki to avoid collisions.

As the rappers say, "don't hate the player, hate the game."

Jun 03, 2011 11:46 AM
rating: 12
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Posey was not blocking the plate, and had been instructed not to do so. Making Sabean's comments the issue is absurd.There is only one issue:
You can't justify assault because it's the only method that will let you have your way. And that is the true bottom line-Cousins assaulted Posey because he saw it it as the only way he could score.

Jun 03, 2011 12:13 PM
rating: -17

Absolutely well done. How long is Sabean going to keep whining about the play? Add in his level of hypocrisy and he should just stop before he loses any credibility he has left.

Jun 03, 2011 12:47 PM
rating: 0

Amen. Steinbrenner the Lesser took a significant credibility hit last year when he whined that he paid his incredibly valuable pitchers too much to be risking their health by having them run the bases, which was why the DH should be used in all games. That was only half as dumb as what Sabean said here. Can it ever be good to have one's own credibility compared to that of a Steinbrenner?

Incidentally, a blast from the past: Many, many years ago, I started a thread on the ancestral rec.sport.baseball on the subject "Best I Ever Saw *At*..." The goal was to talk about specific baseball skills (pickoff move, strike-zone judgment, lining up the relay from the outfield, etc.) and the players who were tops at them. One of those skills was blocking home plate, and I well remember a certain Baseball Prospectus founder's call as to who was best at this one: "I abstain. I dislike this practice and wish it could be stopped." This despite said founder having what might be charitably termed a catcher's physique. Once again BP was ahead of its time! Huck, we miss you ...

Jun 03, 2011 13:04 PM
rating: 0

I take some issue with comparing Sabean's comments to Steinbrenner's. Steinbrenner was arguing that his highly paid pitchers (who are, last I checked, professional athletes) are too valuable to be asked to potentially run 90 feet in a straight line, turn, and run 90 more. That's idiotic. The Wang injury was unfortunate, but it was a fluke - MLB pitchers should be able to run the bases without injuring themselves.

Sabean, meanwhile, is arguing that his highly paid, highly valuable baseball players shouldn't be involved in collisions with other highly paid, highly valuable baseball players. Since baseball is supposedly a non-contact sport, I think that's reasonable. Now, openly wishing for Cousins' career to end is a bit excessive, but it's not as dumb as Steinbrenner's comments.

Jun 04, 2011 14:01 PM
rating: 3

Well done, Larry! Sabean's comment goes beyond whining and amounts almost to a threat against Cousins. Will we see any disciplinary action? I doubt it, but something needs to be done.

Jun 03, 2011 13:27 PM
rating: 0

Sorry for whoever has to check the "flagged for moderation" stuff, I accidentally clicked "inappropriate?"

Jun 03, 2011 19:01 PM
rating: 0

Just a couple of quick comments:
1) Sabean doesn't bat so HE can speak of his long memory;
2) anyone else read that neither Sabean nor Posey is accepting/returning telephone calls from Cousins?

(/sarcasm on) Classy organization. (/sarcasm off)

Great article. Sabean wants an MLB version of Jordan Rules for his star players. And a bigger K zone for Timmy.

Jun 03, 2011 13:29 PM
rating: 0
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Most of the comments here only speak to anti-San Francisco sentiment, not the true issue: protecting a defenseless player from harm.
Anyway,Sabean obviously knew that his statement would insure that Cousins would not appear against them again, so it’s completely arguable that he saved the young man from 95 MPH to the temple.An unwritten rule in baseball is that a pitcher is expected to hit a batter in certain circumstances or be shunned by his teammates. This would certainly apply here. It’s part of the game…right?

Jun 03, 2011 13:42 PM
rating: -4

This is like the debate that won't die. I commented last week on this same topic in BP. I think that trying to assign blame in this home plate collision is splitting hairs. His foot was here. He could have slid there. This crash took place in the matter of about 1-2 seconds. Posey didn't get to look at it in slow motion and reposition accordingly nor did Cousins. Cousins was trying to help his team win a game. That's what he gets paid to do. The consequences of his actions were unintended. There was no "mens rea" (criminal intent).

I have heard the agrument that catcher's wear protective gear and no other position players do. But shin guards, a chest protetcor and a helmet really don't do all that much to protect ligaments, bones and other body parts from the G-forces they absord in a collision like this. They are designed to protect against the impact of a baseball - not a 210 pound human running at 20 mph.

We need to separate the fact that Buster Posey got hurt from the larger issue of player safety. I really think if the player injured was Jason Jaramillo 90% of this discussion goes away. But maybe it is time to look at ways to protect both the baserunner and the catcher. Let's not wait until someone has a life threatening injury and then ask, "Why didn't we do something before this happened?" If we look and there's no workable solution, then at least we can honoestly say we tried.

I do think that Sabean's comments were irresponsible given his position. A GM should not be saying things like that in public. I don't know whether or not his comments are hypocritical, but they do seem inappropriate to me.

Jun 03, 2011 14:24 PM
rating: 16
Dave Holgado
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Hear, Hear! This is a very well thought out comment. Agree 100% with each sentiment. But the article itself, I'm sorry, it's just bollocks.

Jun 03, 2011 19:11 PM
rating: -7

Just to correct a point in your comment, criminal intent does not hinge on whether the consequences were unintended. Instead it turns on whether the act that led to those consequences was intentional. In this case, it was. Cousins intended to initiate a collision with Posey aimed at delivering enough force to dislodge the ball from Posey's grasp.

Whether Cousins intended to injure Posey is irrelevant from a criminal intent standpoint. Posey is the proverbial eggshell plaintiff in this instance.

Jun 10, 2011 06:48 AM
rating: 0

I think that the unwritten rule is more that a pitcher is expected to throw at or near a batter in certain circumstances or be shunned by teammates. Not that he has to hit him. A major league batter consistently facing 95 mph heat has to be expected to be able to get out of the way of a fastball.
Would you prefer that this kind of retaliation not be a part of the game? It is actually a deterrent against beanballs. Just as both sides in the Cold War having nukes was a deterrent against atomic war. (apoligies to the no-nukes crowd)
If the Giants really do think Cousins was guilty of a dirty play and plan retaliation at some point, then Sabean's comments are completely moronic. I should think that if Cousins is hit with a pitch or physically harmed in a Giants game, he could bring criminal charges against the SF organization with Sabean's comments as proof of pre-meditation.

Jun 03, 2011 14:41 PM
rating: 2
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Cousins will never play in a game against SF again.

Jun 03, 2011 14:50 PM
rating: -7

Thanks for stopping by, Mr. Sabean.

Jun 04, 2011 01:37 AM
rating: 1

One rule that I would like to see changed: Runner on first, one out. On an infield grounder the runner slides way out of the baseline in an attempt to break up the DP. Now I know that the runner can be called out for this and that the double play can be called when he is upended. But I often see a second baseman who still has the ability to complete the DP even though the runner is almost in the outfield trying to take him out. If the DP is completed, then all seems to be forgotten, at least in the eyes of the umps (although the defensive team may make a note of it).
I'd like to see the runner who goes way out of the baseline ejected from the game whether the DP is completed or not. If it isn't completed, the DP should be called AND the player ejected. But I guess that Robinson Cano or Chase Utley will have to be shredded by a runner before this happens.

Jun 03, 2011 14:55 PM
rating: 4

Cousins and his family in the Bay Area are receving death threats. Is that what Sabean really wants ? He should know better after the tragic fan beating in LA. MLB needs to step in. I assume his comments do not reflect the position of the Giants franchise.

Jun 03, 2011 15:05 PM
rating: 4

Brian Sabean should know better, and deserves to be fined and disciplined by MLB. And I agree that, regardless of what Sabean (or any other member of the Giants organization) says, the likelihood of Scott Cousins playing against the Giants again this year would have to be nil (unless Marlins management is brain dead).

That much said, I continue to think there is a real problem here that needs to be dealt with. Posey was in front of the plate, in fair territory, awaiting the throw. Cousins, almost all the way down the line from third, could not have missed that, or that he had lots of room to make a slide for the plate away from Posey. Yet from his comments, it appears he never seriously considered the slide in foul territory- what in his view the gods of baseball (that is, you, me, the media, his teammates, his organization)demanded was that he go for Posey. Otherwise, he would be seen (whether he was tagged or called out, or made it) as a candyass. That's the problem. Can this attitude be changed? I don't know. What about you, dude? Any other discussion is hypocrisy.

Jun 03, 2011 15:37 PM
rating: 0

I think Johnny Bench disagrees with your view of the events ...


... and so do I.

Jun 10, 2011 06:59 AM
rating: 0
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Cousins is a .159 hitting marginal player who was looking for entry into the "club" by blowing up Posey. Sabean's comnments are of no consequence, Cousins' actions are.

Jun 03, 2011 16:24 PM
rating: -11

Cousins launched himself like a projectile at Posey. No problem with trying to blow the catcher up, but it looked like he was a linebacker taking out a running back that was being stood up by another defender.

Put it this way, he'd be fined if that was done in the NFL.

Jun 03, 2011 16:28 PM
rating: 2
Noel Steere

Larry, I've enjoyed most of your stuff here, but I've now wasted 20 minutes of my life going through those videos and rewatching the Posey collision to confirm what I knew I saw the first time: Cousins had a clear path to the plate and went out of his way to fly into Posey like a free safety. Sabean had it exacly right in that article:

"[I]f you watch frame by frame from different angles, he does not take the path to the plate to try to score. He goes after Buster, right shoulder on right shoulder, and to me, that’s malicious.”

Sandoval, Fielder and Schierholtz were all in the basepath when contact occured. None of them moved off the baseline the way Cousins did. Here, you can see for yourself:


(Incidentally, since you went through the trouble of posting three other videos that you claimed were comparable to this one, wouldn't it have made sense to post the video of the incident under discussion as well?)

Cousins made a mistake. He made the decision to run over Posey with about 15 feet to go (freeze it there, and you see his arms come up behind himself in preparation to lauch into Posey) regardless of where Posey was with respect to the plate. I feel like I'm Bizzarro World; I've been waiting for someone to point out that, unlike almost every other play at the plate, Cousins went out of his way to run over Posey, and when it finally gets said the guy is in danger of getting fined by MLB!

Jun 03, 2011 23:04 PM
rating: 1
BP staff member Larry Granillo
BP staff

No one is arguing Cousins didn't change his course to hit Posey. But that's a completely legal, accepted part of the game and should not be classified as "malicious". Cousins knew that Posey would have the ball by the time he reached the plate. His clear path would have been anything but. Just because we know Posey dropped the ball doesn't mean Cousins should have been able to magically change his momentum in half a second.

The Schierholtz hit was nothing but malicious and should have no defenders here or anywhere. Saying it was somehow "better" than the Cousins hit is ludicrous.

And watch the Sandoval/Doumit collision again. Pablo is running on the outside lane of dirt the entire way. Three steps from the plate, his path changes and goes after Doumit. He hits Doumit on the pitcher side of the foul line - considering he was on the dugout side the whole time, he clearly changed direction.

More importantly, compare where Doumit's feet are to Posey's. They're right foots are almost in the exact same plate: on the corner of the left-hander's batter box. And look at their knees. They're also in almost identical positions. The only difference is that Doumit has had time to put himself into a proper position, with his left foot close to the plate - you know, where Posey was trying to put his except his leg got stuck - and with his weight shifted. Doumit is where Posey would be in ~2 seconds if a) the play to Posey had reached him in time and b) Posey's leg hadn't gotten stuck.

There is no reason to blame Cousins for sliding like he did. He had *every reason* to expect Posey to be in the position Doumit was and, clearly, no one cared that Pablo did that.

If you want to argue plate collisions in general, that's fine. But Cousins did nothing that hundreds of players haven't done before.

Jun 04, 2011 06:14 AM

I've watched the Posey collision about a dozen times now and I see nothing malicious in Cousins hit. It was a good clean hit and Posey was definitely in front of the plate and - had he caught the ball - would've been in a good position to tag Cousins out. The issue here isn't Cousins hit or where Posey was positioned as the only reason Posey was hurt the way he was is becuse his leg got stuck and his weight was poorly distributed as he was trying to move his body towards Cousins to block the plate while he was also reaching for the ball causing him to be off-balanced.

I think this hit (http://mlb.mlb.com/video/play.jsp?content_id=15258683&topic_id=&c_id=mlb&tcid=vpp_copy_15258683) from just two days after Posey's hit is the one to really compare it to as, like Posey, Quintero wasn't properly positioned in regards to weight balance as his foot got stuck (on a bat in this case) as he tried to get himself in position.

Jun 04, 2011 09:39 AM
rating: -2
Noel Steere


JavaScript errors prevent me from replying directly:

You write:

"No one is arguing Cousins didn't change his course to hit Posey. But that's a completely legal, accepted part of the game and should not be classified as 'malicious'."

Wait, running out of the baseline isn't illegal?

You're supposed to take a direct route to the next base; Cousins clearly didn't do that, and the other players in the videos did. They may have turned their bodies in a way to try to dislodge the ball (or in Schierholt'z case, take the baseline that's rightfully theirs: The catcher didn't have the ball and was standing right in the baseline; that's obstruction. A dick move, to be sure, but not illegal in MLB. Olympics/collegiate yes, but not MLB. In fact, I've gotten injured when a catcher took the baseline to make a phantom tag. Our coach made it clear that he shouldn't do that, and that I have every right to the basepath if a fielder doesn't have the ball.)

Re Sandoval/Doumit: Are you kidding me? Sandoval literally ran over the plate making contact with Doumit, and was in foul territory the entire time until he crosses the plate. Not even close to what Cousins did. If Cousins goes where Sandoval goes there isn't anywhere near the collision that occured.

If you want to keep harping on Sabean for saying "malicious", have fun with that, but the core of the article, that what Cousins did is common, doesn't stand up to scrutiny, and isn't coroborrated by the evidence you've presented.

Jun 04, 2011 11:04 AM
rating: -2

Can you show me a picture of Cousins out the baseline?

He's certainly not out of the baseline here ...


Jun 10, 2011 07:05 AM
rating: 0

I see that Johnny Bench has put the blame for the collision on Posey. He says that a catcher needs to stand away from the plate until he has the ball, and then work towards the plate. He should give the runner a clear view of the plate so that the runner has the ability to slide. Otherwise, Bench said, he's like a disabled car in a four-lane highway..he's gonna get smacked.
I'll take Bench's opinions more seriously than I'll take Bruce Bochy's or Mike Metheny's. And a hell of a lot more than Mr. Sabean's.

Jun 04, 2011 12:07 PM
rating: 2
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Death threats from San Francisco? The city of peace and love? Site of the biggest "peace" demonstrations west of Baghdad? What a shock! Actually, not such a surprise if your really know these people. I always felt that front part of Haight-Ashbury was misspelled.

Jun 04, 2011 12:14 PM
rating: -14

Sabean is just whining because he lost his franchise player for the season, and probably his team's chances of winning this year. He's complaining about bad luck because often in this play, the runner doesn't hurt the catcher or he is only shaken up. It's just bad luck and Sabean handled it like a 12-year old at a craps table. I'd slap him in the face if I could.

Jun 04, 2011 16:09 PM
rating: 1

I don't often agree with you, and I'm a Giants fan, but in this case I do.

Jun 04, 2011 21:54 PM
rating: 1

This is Baseball Prospectus, not Fox News. The difference between left and right on this site is about how you throw and bat - not whether you think war is better than peace or vice versa. Don't be a "hater". Life's too short.

May be going to hell in a bucket, but at least I'm enjoying the ride.

Jun 04, 2011 17:50 PM
rating: 5

The fact that Sabean has said nothing before this does not make him wrong now--nor does it make him right. (I'm not writing here about the implied threat, but about the implied need for MLB to do something about home plate collisions.)

Jun 05, 2011 10:33 AM
rating: 1
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