The Florida Marlins 31-23 record entering Friday is tied for third best in all of baseball, but they are just now beginning to get national exposure. The exposure however, has come for all the wrong reasons. In last Wednesday’s 7-6, 12 inning victory over the San Francisco Giants, Emilio Bonifacio drove in the game-winning-run on a sacrifice fly that scored reserve outfielder Scott Cousins. Bonifacio’s fly ball was not hit particularly deep and Cousins hustled home from third. On the throw home, Cousins bulled over Giants’ catcher Buster Posey. On the play, Posey suffered tears to three ligaments and broken bone in his leg. The injury has likely ended Posey’s season, but has stirred plenty of controversy across baseball as well. Posey was the National League’s Rookie of the Year in 2010 and one of the key components in last year’s run to a World Championship.
The first to speak out against Cousins was former big-league catcher Mike Matheny. Matheny spent 13 years in Major League Baseball and actually finished his career catching for the San Francisco Giants. On Monday, Matheny said, “You know what, it wasn’t a dirty play, he didn’t come high spikes, he didn’t come high elbow,”, but he wasn’t exactly standing in Cousins’ corner. “I don’t think you legislate,” the former catcher said. “I think you just put a mark in the column that that kid took a run at a catcher. To me as a catcher I know the next time I get the ball I’m going to stick it to him”. But the criticism of Cousins didn’t end there; on Thursday, Giants’ General Manager Brian Sabean gave his criticism of the Marlins’ reserve outfielder. “Why not be hard-nosed?” Sabean told KNBR radio station in San Francisco. “If I never hear from Cousins again or he never plays another game in the big leagues, I think we’ll all be happy.” Sabean went on to say, “He chose to be a hero, in my mind, and if that’s his flash of fame, that’s as good as it’s going to get, pal. We’ll have a long memory,”. Sabean went on to say that there would be no love loss between the Giants and Scott Cousins.
With that being said, Scott Cousins has been wrongly branded as some sort of dirty player. Neither Matheny or Sabean mentioned the fact that Cousins showed immediate concern for Posey after the play. Cousins called to apologize for the injury that he had caused, but Posey did not return the call. Nobody is happy that Posey’s season is over and especially not Scott Cousins. Few baseball fans knew much about Scott Cousins prior to the Buster Posey injury. Cousins has played in only 66 career games and is used primarily in roles as a pinch-hitter, a pinch-runner or a defensive replacement. Cousins does not have a long reputation around baseball of being a dirty player. In fact, he doesn’t even have a reputation around baseball. That was, until the Posey injury.
What has also been largely overlooked, is the situation in which the injury occured. The play came in a tied game in extra innings on a fly ball that wasn’t hit all that well. Did Posey miss the ball? Yes. Did Cousins have the outside of the plate? Yes. But Cousins, a largely inexperienced player just trying to remain in the major leagues, had to make that decision in a split-second. With the game on the line, the responsibility as the runner at third base is not to make sure that no one is hurt. Your responsibility is not to tip-toe to the plate. Your responsibility is to score. That was what Cousins did. To suggest that Cousins had intentions of hurting Posey is absurd. Sabean’s suggestion that Cousins was trying to be a hero is also absurd. What Cousins was trying to do was score the game-winning-run for his team. His intentions went no further. Everyone is entitled to an opinion on what last Wednesday’s play at the plate says about Scott Cousins, but what do Brian Sabean’s words say about himself? Rather than hoping that Cousins learns from that now infamous play at the plate, Sabean claimed that we would all be happier if we never seen or heard from Scott Cousins again. I’m sure there’s plenty of people out there who disagree. I’m sure that this wasn’t the way that Scott Cousins had hoped that he’d become a household name around baseball, but unlike Sabean, Cousins took the high road. Cousins checked to see if Posey was alright. Cousins called the Giants’ catcher to apologize. Cousins’ agent, Matt Sosnick even said that he understood Sabean’s anger. Say what you will about the collision between Scott Cousins and Buster Posey, but when push came to shove, Cousins handled the situation with class and Sabean did not.