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Saturday, June 04, 2011

How Generations Change: I'll Take Scott Cousins on My Team

I want to start this by saying that I think that the Giants are a great organization, that how they came about to winning the World Series last year was terrific, and that Buster Posey was the spark plug that put them over the top and is a great player. So let's get that out of the way now.

But I also want to say that I like hard-nosed baseball players and players who play to win. There is no "slide or surrender" rule like there is in girls' softball (and I like that rule), so until there is, players are allowed to crash into catchers who try to block the plate. That's the way it's been in baseball since the Wrights played for the Cincinnati Red Legs, and that's the way it is now.

So, to me, all this condemnatory talk about Scott Cousins is wrong, even if it is borne out of something that for all intents and purposes a baseball team's form of mourning for the loss of the heart of its team. I get that, and I'd be sad if I lost a player like Buster Posey for the season. But let's make one thing perfectly clear -- what Cousins did was within the boundaries of the rules and within the spirit of the game -- he played to win. Had it happened in the heat of a pennant race in September to give the Marlins' the NLCS clinching game, people would have heralded it as the baseball version of the last full measure that combatants at Gettysburg gave (according to Abraham Lincoln). That it happened before the All-Star break shouldn't even matter much, for the last time I checked, a game in early April counts as much as sometimes the more closely watched games during a September pennant chase.

So all of the lingering focus on Cousins in San Francisco -- and some of the comments, whether intentional or not but that might provoke violence against Cousins -- must end. The Giants need to get over this incident and fast, or otherwise their leadership will give their team -- a good team -- an excuse to fail for the rest of the season. Why? Because right now the focal point is the loss of Posey, and that focal point will give the average Giants' player an excuse to lose, simply because they can all say, "well, what did anyone expect, we lost Buster, didn't we?"

And that's precisely what you never want your team to think. What you want them to think is that the remaining guys each have an opportunity to step it up, show that they can make a bigger difference and, also, honor their hurt teammate by playing even harder to make up for his loss. If Brian Sabean wants to serve his team well, he should take a different approach, focus his energy on inspiring the healthy Giants, and fire them up about going on a mission to show the rest of the league that they still are a very good baseball team.

As for Cousins, well, I harken back to almost 40 years ago, where there was a firebrand named Pete Rose who played for the Reds who ran the bases with a fury, played the field with a fury, and tried to figure out every which way to beat you. He studied pitchers, he studied situations, and they didn't call him "Charlie Hustle" because he waltzed to first base after a walk. No, he sprinted. And, yes, he smashed into Ray Fosse in the 1970 All-Star game to score the winning run and injured Fosse in the process. Fosse at the time was a promising young catcher, and regrettably his career didn't progress thereafter the way many thought it might have.

There wasn't any hue and cry after the game that Rose played dirty or that the rules should be changed. The collision was unfortunate, but emblematic of one of the most charismatic players in the game, Rose, who played to win and played for winners. (My father admired Rose's approach to the game, and once I asked him why, and he said because Rose reminded him of one of his favorite players of all-time, Jackie Robinson, by the way he did anything to beat you).

Rose, perhaps because he had "Hall of Fame" stamped on his forehead, was admired, and Fosse wasn't an established star. This time, the circumstances perhaps are reversed, and Cousins is getting vilified as a result. I am not so sure, though, had this collision happened in 1970 that there would have been much public outcry about Posey's injury other than it was unfortunate but part of the game.

Would you have wanted Rose on your team?


Would you want Cousins on your team?

If that collision is an indication of his fire to win, absolutely.

Is it very unfortunate what happened to Posey?


Was it within the rules?


Is it understandable that Posey is upset and that the Giants have been reeling over this?

For sure.

But it's time that everyone moves on -- there is still a lot of baseball to be played and in Posey's case, rehab to do so that he can reestablish himself as the star he still remains destined to become.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cousins and Sabean can say whatever they want about the play. This is all about Free Speech. After all, censorship is everywhere. The gov’t (and their big business cronies) censor free speech, shut down dissent and ban the book “America Deceived II”. Free speech for all.
Last link (before Google Books bans it also]:

2:37 PM  

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