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Sunday 25th Jun 2017

I am sort of getting a kick out of this Twitter thing, that I started doing last week. It is kind of like Dr. Pepper: not a cola, like an e-mail, and not a root beer, like a text.

And, for a guy who relies on long sentences--I am sorry, but I spent a lot of time with the Victorians--140 characters is beyond restraint, it becomes cryptic.

But, the info and buzz and exchanges are kind of a kick.

In fact, I had a really fun one with Jonah Keri the other day, where the issue of home plate collisions was the topic.

Jonah correctly noted that blocking a base without the ball is against the rules, and essentially constitues obstruction, but where it gets dicey is when the ball is in the flight, for the runner has a right to access the base just as the defender has a right to access the ball.

Of course the Buster Posey/Scott Cousins play of last season--the one that knocked Buster out for the year--was the obvious example.

Now, I was at that game, working in the press box, scoring the stats for MLB.com. The game was in extra innings, and there was only one out, and when Emilio Bonifacio hit a short fly to right field, and we saw Nate Schierholtz (who has a canon) out there, everyone knew there was going to be a play at the dish.

So, all we could do was brace and watch it all unfurl.

And, it was painful. Cousins could have tried to slide around, but he also had a right to the plate, and well, the ball was coming in, and Posey was trying to grab it and wheel around to tag the runner when the harmonic convergence dictated collision.

I thought, for better or worse, it was a clean play, as tough as the results were, but Jonah's argument is that baseball is not a contact sport, and Posey should not have been blocking the plate till he had the ball, and technically Posey should have been called for obstruction as it was, with the run scoring either way.

Since all this happens in a matter of seconds, it is hard to determine what the best way to determine the outcome. Certainly the play at the plate is a storied thing in baseball lore, but that does not make it right, and though I get Jonah's point, aside from figuring out how or when to enforce the rule, were I Buster, I would feel terrible after that crash to have defaulted a run by giving my bod up for the good of the team (I'm just saying, you know?).

All I could think of in response to Jonah was "ouch," but, it did remind me of one of my all-time favorite football plays.

I cannot remember the year, but it was back before the Niners had Bill Walsh at the helm, and when Tom Dempsey--you know, the guy with the weighted shoe--kicked for the Rams.

The play was near the end of the game, and Dempsey was kicking a field goal from around the 30-yard line, as memory serves.

The ball was snapped, and Dempsey went forth and connected with the ball, sending it flying, when defensive back Ralph McGill came rushing in to block, missing the ball, but catching Dempsey's foot in the follow through.

The ball missed the uprights, but Dempsey's shoe caught McGill square on the helmet, knocking the Niner out cold.

Unfortunately for McGill, he was also called for "roughing the kicker," and after McGill was carried from the field and San Francisco restocked, Dempsey was given another shot from five yards closer.

He made the kick, and the Rams won.

Talk about insult to injury. Talk about "ouch."

BTW, you can hit me up on Twitter @lawrmichaels.

 

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