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HS 194: The stupid Buster Posey rule screws over the Phillies

The Phillies’ loss to the Cubs on Thursday was highlighted by a rule that needs major fixing.

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Philadelphia Phillies v Chicago Cubs Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

In the land of good intentions, unintended consequences can sometimes turn a good idea into a complete disaster.

Such is the case with The Buster Posey Rule, put into place in 2014 as a way of protecting Major League catchers in the wake of a devastating injury to the Giants’ star, who was run over by the MarlinsScott Cousins as he received a throw from the outfield in a game in 2011.

Baseball, in their attempt to protect catchers from future incidents such as this, instituted a rule that forbid catchers from blocking the plate before they had the ball, instructing that they must give baserunners a clear path to the plate.

This made sense, as fielders are not allowed to set up roadblocks in front of first, second or third base, and must allow baserunners a clear path to the base at those other spots on the diamond. Phillies fans will remember a play involving Darren Daulton and Ray Lankford from 1991 that resulted in a serious injury to Dutch.

However, much like the NFL’s “Catch Rule,” the “Buster Posey Rule” has forced umpires to enforce it in ways in which it was never intended, such as in yesterday’s 4-3 loss by the Phillies to the Cubs. In the 5th inning, with Chicago already leading 3-1, the Cubs had the bases loaded with one out when Dylan Cozens lined up a fly ball to medium left field.

Albert Almora Jr., a speedy runner, tagged up and it appeared like an easy fourth run for the Cubbies. Only Cozens unleashed a ridiculous laser to catcher Andrew Knapp at home, who stuck his leg out and prevented Almora’s hand from touching the plate as he applied the tag.

It appeared as though the Phils would be out of the inning, still down just 3-1. But after reviewing the play, umpires decided Knapp had blocked the plate with his league and interfered with Almora. The run would stand, and it would be the deciding run in the 4-3 win over the Phils.

This is clearly not what the rule was intended for. It was intended to stop collisions at home plate, to protect both the runner and the catcher. Five years ago, Cozens is celebrated for a phenomenal throw home and that game goes to extra innings. Maybe the Phils win, maybe they don’t. But it’s a play that would have stood up, normally.

Protecting players from injury is important, and I agree that there needs to be a rule in place that prevents catchers from acting as a brick wall in front of the dish. But, just like the NFL is readjusting it’s “Catch Rule” this off-season, MLB needs to take a look at the “Buster Posey Rule” this off-season, because no one thinks it’s working the way it was intended right now.

On Episode 194 of “Hittin’ Season,” I talk about this with TGP’s Paul Boye, where we also break down the Phils’ series against Chicago, the 3-7 road trip, and Paul’s look at the new faces of the team’s social media efforts, which have done a complete 180 over the last couple years in terms of interest and creativity.

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