Wow. What a day in baseball yesterday.
Cubs/Brewers. Athletics/Mariners. Red Sox/Phillies.
And a whole bunch of stupid macho crap, mostly from cranky ex-jocks.
Before I even get to the lunacy that was Jose Urena throwing at Ronald Acuna and the idiotic defense of it by Keith Hernandez, let me start with another angry, illogical ex-jock – Eric Byrnes.
Byrnes was in the broadcast booth during the Cubs/Brewers game yesterday promoting…I don’t know what. The topic of home plate collisions arose, and Byrnes recalled an incident from earlier this season involving Anthony Rizzo who “interfered” cough, cough, with a catcher on a play earlier this season.
Byrnes was very frustrated that Rizzo, and others aren’t allowed to obliterate a defenseless opponent, because in that case Rizzo and players like him are doing “something to help his team win a game”. In defense of his argument, he pointed out to the millions watching who’ve never seen a game presumably, that baseball “is a contact sport”.
(Pinches bridge of nose…)
Let’s start with the obvious: The NFL is a contact sport league. The NFL was just fine with its employees being concussed and suffering long term brain injuries for a long time. And even the NFL has rules about hitting defenseless opponents, and hitting them in certain areas (head, knee) depending on context.
That’s the knuckle dragging, caveman NFL. Byrnes wants baseball to allow one of its employees to risk serious long term injury because another one of its employees is trying to help his team win. If you can’t help your team without injuring your opponent, maybe the problem isn’t with your opponent…?
Speaking of which, Ray Fosse says hello.
If you aren’t familiar with Ray Fosse, he was the 2nd best catcher in baseball in 1970. (When the best player to ever play your position is the only person better than you during a particular season, you’re pretty frigging good.) At the halfway point of 1970, Fosse had an OPS+ of 170. For some perspective, only three catchers since integration have had a season of 170 OPS+.
During the all-star game, Pete Rose intentionally collided with Fosse at home plate, injuring Fosse’s shoulder. (Congratulations Eric Byrnes, your moral soul mate is Pete Rose!) Fosse had a 104 OPS+ over the 2nd half of the season and averaged 84 OPS+ over the next 5 seasons.
I wonder if Eric Byrnes, after defending players like Rose for trying to win, would ask Fosse how many games he was trying to win with a bad shoulder, or how many his employers were trying to win with a damaged player?
Speaking of only three catchers with a season of 170 OPS+ or better…(how’s that for a segue!)
Buster Posey was the reigning rookie of the year and was on his way to being one of the best players in baseball, the best catcher of his generation, and an easy first ballot hall of fame selection.
Then on May 25th of 2011, Posey broke his leg and dislocated his ankle on a collision at home plate. Long term, the story has a happy ending. Posey became everything we thought he was going to be, despite the injuries – but he did miss a season. I’m sure he and his employers and Giants fans would have loved to see him try to help his team win over that stretch.
So my question for Eric Byrnes, and anyone who would come to the defense of Anthony Rizzo and Pete Rose, is why do you not come to the defense of Ray Fosse and Buster Posey?
They all were trying to help their teams win, but the former set acted in a reckless, negligent and careless manner that would be considered assault outside of a sporting context. The latter set was playing baseball.
I can’t explain why someone would choose that position or why someone would defend Jose Urena and not Ronald Acuna.
Oh, don’t worry Keith Hernandez, I haven’t forgotten about you, I’ll be back.
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