What we sadly suspected late Wednesday night has been confirmed as a sobering truth on Thursday afternoon: San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey(notes) did sustain a serious injury during his collision with Florida's Scott Cousins(notes) in the 12th inning of a 7-6 loss.
The Giants' official Twitter account says Posey will hit the disabled list with "a bone fracture in lower left leg." There has been no mention of any expected recovery time yet.
If you haven't seen it — and aren't opposed to seeing some straight-up violence — here's the play again. It's obviously a devastating turn for the defending World Series champions, who were already last in the National League in run production and will now be without one of the main offensive sparks from last year's series run.
• As Posey's agent, Jeff Berry, told Buster Olney of ESPN: "Major League Baseball is less than it was before" the catcher's injury. There's no disputing that. Posey is a top player on a top team, the reigning NL Rookie of the Year and one of the bright faces in baseball's attempt to market a new generation of stars. He will definitely be missed.
• Berry and some respected writers are now taking this opportunity to call for a stricter enforcement of the rules around the plate, whether they be about ensuring that a catcher is not in front of the plate without the ball (obstruction that is already illegal, but never enforced) or what a runner can do in his approach toward both the plate and catcher.
If you watched this play, it sure looked like Posey thought he had the ball (though he did not) as he attempted to make the tag. Plus, Cousins went a little out of his regular path to slam into Posey in the usual attempt to jar the ball from the catcher's grasp. I can see where Giants fans might want to characterize Cousins as the Chuck Cecil of baseball players — and he does resemble a cruise missile just before impact — but the truth is that nearly every bang-bang play at the plate features the elements of this play that people are taking issue with. Both catchers and runners have been getting away with this for years, so who's going to blame Cousins for being the one who took it too far?
And with that said, how do you make any changes to what is legal and what is not and keep it as one of baseball's most exciting plays? How do you avoid turning a catcher into a cape-waving matador with a runner charging home? How do you avoid turning that runner into someone that's going to wave his hands over his head and surrender himself 15 feet away from possibly scoring a run? With the quick nature of the play and with what actions have already been hard-wired into the player's brains as permissible, I don't think it's possible.
• That's not to say that I don't have any of my own suggestions that would never work. My just-dreamed-up solution would be to require each catcher to set up behind the plate — similar to how a third baseman sets up at third as a runner goes for a triple. The problems with that, of course, are 1) it pretty much ensures that any putouts are only going to come via relay throw because no outfielder is going to have the arm strength to deliver the ball over the head or the path of the runner, and 2) it wouldn't solve any of the injury problems with collisions, because they would assuredly still happen.
• Perhaps another solution would be to just take away a runner's ability to lower his shoulder by outlawing headfirst slides. But would it really be that easy? And, perhaps getting more introspective, would we as spectators want this play to completely go away? Maybe it makes me a bad and bloodthirsty fan — I'll straight up admit that I was excited about that play before I saw that Posey was hurt — but I'm not sure it does.
• Posey's injury certainly threw the speculation machine into full swing. Chief among the questions that are being asked about a possible replacement: Has the phone rang on whatever beach or golf course that Bengie Molina(notes) is currently sitting or playing on? And what does current Pittsburgh Pirates catcher Ryan Doumit(notes) think about playing in the chilly July weather in San Francisco?
• It's going to be interesting to see which position Posey comes back at when he's done with his rehab. There has long been talk about him playing elsewhere, but are the Giants ready to give up on his giant positional value so early? And is he ready to sacrifice some of his future free-agent earning potential by heading somewhere where his bat is a little less valuable?
Those are certainly questions that Posey and the Giants didn't think they'd be addressing this soon, but it's unfortunately something they now have to think about.