Posey’s injury stirs debate on baseball collisions

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Those lines can often be murky.

Cousins, for instance, scored the winning run in a crucial game against the defending World Series champions Wednesday night. He might have had room to slide and avoid hitting Posey, but that’s a split-second decision and almost impossible to discern in the moment.

The only collision Arizona manager and former World Series star Kirk Gibson had in his career came against Pat Borders on July 9, 1995. Gibson remembers the two almost collided at the plate the day before except Borders moved up and allowed him to slide in safely at the last second.

“He told me the next day he didn’t sleep because he chickened out,” Gibson said. “A day later we had the same play, he stood in there and I pounded him.”

The brunt of the blow doesn’t always fall on the catcher either.

After all, the runner is the one not wearing protective gear. And sliding instead of colliding offers no guarantees _ Texas slugger Josh Hamilton, last season’s AL MVP, broke his right arm April 12 on a headfirst slide into home at Detroit.

“What do you want them to do? Make guys wear tennis shoes? It’s a Major League Baseball game,” Red Sox manager Terry Francona said. “What do you want them to do? Sometimes guys break up double plays, sometimes you gotta try to score. Nobody wants to see anybody get hurt, but you got to play the game.”

Player safety is one area where Major League Baseball and the players’ association usually overwhelmingly agree. The new concussion disabled list and padding on the walls are two of the most recent actions both helped implement.

But there’s no concrete answer on what can be done to prevent major injuries at the plate. A message left with a league spokesman seeking comment was not immediately returned.

Many high schools and some college divisions have outlined rules for calls on the bases, including home. The most common are giving the umpire the discretion to decide if the runner could avoid a collision with a clear path or if the runner had any intent to reach the base _ similar to those for breaking up a double-play in the big leagues.

Those subjective calls could be more difficult in the majors.

Players are faster, stronger and dozens of slow-motion camera angles dissecting each play might only increase debate. In the NBA, the charge-block call is one of the toughest for referees and the most controversial among fans, but the play happens at least a half-dozen times a game with athletes such as LeBron James and Dwyane Wade who are even faster.

Most big leaguers chuckle at the idea of such a rule in baseball.

Red Sox catcher Jason Varitek is considered among the best at blocking the plate. He agrees collisions should remain in the baseball rules, even it that puts him in harm’s way.

“Catching, you’re usually not on the winning end of those. Period,” Varitek said. “Some things are part of the game. But even the people who are playing hard and are in those collisions don’t want to see anybody get hurt. Some things are part of the game. There’s not a whole lot you can do.”

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