Buster Posey is the leader of the San Francisco Giants. He is the team’s best position player and truly a likeable guy.
Yet the all-star catcher is getting ripped from all sides for not getting out from behind the plate quick enough to come to the defense of Hunter Strickland, who intentionally hit Bryce Harper in the hip with a 98 mph fastball Monday afternoon.
Harper took Strickland deep twice in the 2014 playoffs, and apparently it still sticks in Strickland’s gut. I’m not sure why, given the Giants had the last laugh since they won the World Series that year.
Was Posey ticked at Strickland for throwing at Harper? Was he afraid of throwing himself into any potential melee because of past injuries? Was he concerned because he might get the same treatment since he is the Giants’ best hitter?
No matter what, he has to make a token effort to get out ahead of Harper. Too many seconds passed before you see Posey make a move from behind the plate. I can’t believe that Buster is that naïve to think something wasn’t going to happen when Harper and Strickland started jawing at each other. You know Strickland did it on purpose. His body language spoke loud and clear.
When I saw Harper go out, I actually thought he was going to throw his helmet at Strickland. Some people I’ve chatted with on the subject thought Harper did exactly that and just missed.
If Posey disagreed with Strickland’s hitting of Harper, you protect your teammate in public, and then rip into him in the confines of the locker room. Strickland was dead wrong in this instance, and I think his fine/suspension should be more than Harper’s. (Note: Tuesday, Major League Baseball suspended Harper four games and Strickland six games.)
And, the plate umpire wasn’t much help. He could have done a better job of coming out once Harper was hit. Harper didn’t sprint out right away, he stood there and jawed. That would have given an alert umpire enough time to make an effort to quell the uprising. Maybe it would have stopped there. Maybe.
I umpired college baseball for many years, and it was drilled into me that if a batter gets hit you do the best you can to get between the batter and the pitcher. No umpire is expected to put himself in harm’s way, however. Look at hockey fights, if you can’t get there immediately, then you wait until the fight has slowed down enough and can be controlled.
Nobody is expecting an umpire/official to get in harm’s way. Goodness knows in my 12-year college umpiring career I was at three games where punches were actually thrown.
I remember a game at University of San Francisco where a kid from USF hit a home and then was plunked with a curveball. The USF kid started toward the mound, and I grabbed him by the back of the pants and held on for dear life until a coach could take control. I warned both benches and nothing else happened. I know the kid hit him on purpose because I’d umpired him before, and his strike-ball ratio was about 3.5-1.
I remember another time at a JC game. I was the field umpire. The lead-off hitter was hit by a pitch in the bottom of the first by the opposing pitcher. Later in the game, the opposing pitcher hit him again WITH a 5-0 lead. The kid dropped his bat and set sail for the mound. I’m yelling at the West Valley bench to stay in the dugout. That fell on deaf ears when they saw the entire CCSF team run onto the field. My partner and I took down names until things slowed down. We actually suspended the game because neither of us felt that cooler heads would prevail.
I think in that situation my partner may have relaxed in a 5-0 game, and you just can’t ever do that.