Urban: No need to govern collisions at plate


Urban: No need to govern collisions at plate

May 26, 2011
SLIDESHOW: Scott Cousins vs. Buster PoseyMychael UrbanCSNBayArea.com

One of the great benefits of working for a television network is that when a single play merits serious discussion, as does Scott Cousins' devastating collision with Buster Posey on Wednesday night, you can ask someone to cue up the video and spend 10 minutes -- or 20 minutes, an hour, an eternity -- breaking down the play, frame by frame, backward and forward.So, of course, that was priority No. 1 upon arrival at the CSN Bay Area offices early this afternoon. The same exercise played out late last night at home thanks to the genius of DVR, but DVR can't hold a candle to what the geniuses in our San Francisco studios can do.On a monitor at a desk in the newsroom, the play -- Nate Schierholtz's one-hop dart to Posey that beat Cousins to the plate by a good 10 feet before Posey dropped the ball and saw his season placed in jeopardy by a strong-safely style blast in the chest -- played over and over and back and over and back. For a good, long while. Thus, now more than ever, there is no hesitation in issuing the following unequivocal, iron-clad-confidence-based statement: Clean play. Based on frame-by-frame examination, Cousins did the only thing he could have possibly thought to do in order to score that run.Anyone who wants to say it was a cheap shot is wrong. They haven't seen the video like this. Sorry guys. You're wrong.Still need convincing? Take a look at the slide show we've put together.SLIDESHOW: Scott Cousins vs. Buster Posey
The cleanliness of the play has been the subject of much debate. Hopefully you'll check out the slide show and see why those calling it a clean play are correct.The play has spawned another hot debate, though, too, and that one's even more lopsided than the first.It's been suggested, in the wake of the play that might cost Posey his season, that MLB needs to take a long, hard look at home-plate collisions and consider legislature that makes life safer for catchers.Anyone got a puke bucket? How about a tutu? Perhaps a red jersey, like the quarterbacks wear in practice in the NFL, a non-verbal "Don't Touch Me" sign?Please. If it were Buster Posey who blew up the Marlins' catcher Wednesday night, Giants fans would be talking about what a gamer he is. What a hard-nosed, country hardball stud! Heck, if Posey hadn't been hurt, we might be saying the same thing about Cousins and Buster. No harm, no foul, right?But there was harm. Lots of it. All to Posey. And as a result, some Giants fans are calling foul.Please. Knock it off. Collisions have been part of the game forever, and only a handful of catchers have been seriously injured in them. Ray Fosse's career was greatly compromised by the unnecessary hit he took from Pete Rose in the 1970 All-Star Game, for instance. And if you want to come up with a rule that rules out collisions at All-Star Games, fine. That makes sense.So does a fat fine and lengthy suspension for anyone deemed by MLB to have administered an NFL-style hit, a free-safety launch that ends with helmet-to-helmet contact. That would serve as an effective deterrent for runners who go in search of damage for the sake of damage.Were such a rule in effect, however, Cousins wouldn't have draw a fine. He did what he felt he needed to do to win a game. Nothing more, nothing less.Outlaw collisions at the plate? Why not eliminate takeout slides, too? And while you're at it, immediately toss anyone who hits a batter with a pitch, intent or not. Come on, people. Too many folks are overreacting here, and it needs to stop. What happened to Posey stinks. No question about it. It's awful. But it happened for no reason other than a baseball play that happens many, many times over the course of a season went awry through no fault of the play's participants.Change the rule? No. Collisions at the plate and injuries are part of the game. Pure and simple. If you want a contact-free game, head to your local softball field and get behind the 50-and-over league.You want real baseball, risks and rewards, all of which the players were well aware of, and well-compensated for? Stay with your Giants, hope they can gut it out without Posey. and don't change a damn thing.Oh, and one last thing. All the people calling for a rule change? Not one of them has presented an actual idea, much less a good one, for what would go into such a change.Why might that be? You figure it out. Baseball did a long time ago.

Bill King earns induction into Baseball Hall of Fame

Bill King earns induction into Baseball Hall of Fame

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. — Legendary A’s radio announcer Bill King was selected as the 2017 Ford C. Frick award winner, earning him induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

The announcement came Wednesday morning at the winter meetings, and surely the news will be greeted enthusastically by legions of fans who identify King’s voice with so many of the Bay Area’s unforgettable sports moments.

King, who passed away in 2005, won the award in his sixth time as a finalist. Current A’s play-by-play man Ken Korach, who called games alongside King and wrote a book about his career and colorful personality, lobbied hard for his induction, even reaching out individually to Frick voters before this year’s election. Contacted Wednesday, Korach's voice cracked with emotion as he searched for words to describe his feelings.

“Honestly, I’m in tears. I really am,” Korach said. “It’s incredible. I’m just overwhelmed with joy, for his family, for his fans. What Bill meant to A’s fans and fans of the Bay Area in general is the reason that he’s in.”

King was passed over numerous times in previous Frick elections, with the assumed thought being that King’s terrific versatility behind the mic actually worked against him.

Because he was so well-known and identified with as a Raiders and Warriors announcer as well as A’s, some never viewed King as a pure baseball man. But baseball was nearest to King’s heart according to Korach, who plans to travel to Cooperstown with his wife Denise for King’s induction July 29.

“It was his first love, the game he enjoyed broadcasting the most.”

King’s call of the Raiders’ zany “Holy Roller” victory over the Chargers in 1978 is a staple of vintage NFL Films footage. He described the scene for Warriors fans as the team won its first NBA title in the Bay Area in 1975. And his trademark “Holy Toledo!” marked so many A’s victories over the years.

The other seven finalists for the Frick award were Giants broadcaster Mike Krukow, Gary Cohen, Jacques Doucet, Ken Harrelson, Pat Hughes, Ned Martin and Dewayne Staats.

“Bill King’s enthusiasm for every game he called carried through the airwaves and into the hearts of fans throughout Northern California for 25 incredible years with the Oakland Athletics,” said Hall of Fame president Jeff Idleson. “From his distinctive word choices in describing the action to his unabashed love of Oakland and the Bay Area, King crafted a career that became synonymous with the action at the Oakland Coliseum and throughout the sports world.”

Mack, Irvin feed off each other, form dynamic duo in Raiders pass rush

Mack, Irvin feed off each other, form dynamic duo in Raiders pass rush

The Buffalo Bills were running right through the Oakland Raiders early in Sunday’s contest, a never-ending assault that took its toll on defenders in silver and black.

That was the case for the most optimistic, steadfast member of that unit.

“We were giving up big plays, and I was frustrated,” star edge rusher Khalil Mack said. “Actually, I was pissed off.”

Bruce Irvin sensed a disturbance in the force. The veteran pass rusher knew how to fix it.  A little pep talk would get Mack going again.

“We feed off each other’s energy. … That dude pulls me up. I was feeling a little down towards the middle of the game, and he was like, ‘Come on. We need you. Come on. Let’s go. He pulled me up and kept pushing.”

That wasn’t the turning point in yet another comeback win. It wasn’t the only reason why defense locked Buffalo down during a run of 29 unanswered points.

It showed how strong a friendship Mack and Irvin have formed since the spring, one that helps get the best out of the other. Bonds formed from insatiable work ethic, one evident even in the offseason program.

“We’re both so hungry to be great that it just brought us together,” Irvin said. “When I got here, we talked right away. Khalil and (quarterback Derek Carr) were the first two guys I sat down with, and I told them I was coming over to play with Khalil, to help turn this thing around and become one of the top units in the league. Khalil and I just bonded quickly, and it was like we had been friends forever. It’s like whole thing was meant to be.”

It has turned out to be a productive pairing. There are 15 sacks, 94 other quarterback pressures and eight forced fumbles between Irvin and Mack this season.

Mack has the bulk of those numbers, especially during a second-half run where he has been outright dominant and jumped into the conversation for defensive player of the year. Mack has been involved in four turnovers the last two games, including game-sealing strip sacks while recovering his own fumble in consecutive weeks.

“You all don’t want to talk to Robin,” Irvin quipped. “Batman’s right over there.”

Irvin has used that line after two home victories in a row. The fifth-year pro is more than Mack’s sidekick. He’s on a roll himself, with sacks in three straight games. He uses speed and agility to create pressure off the strongside edge, dealing with left tackles on a consistent basis.

“I’m in a good groove right now,” Irvin said. “Mentality, physically, I’m in a very good place right now. It’s really showing on the field these past couple weeks.”

Irvin has been a productive defender either making plays on his side or driving traffic back towards Mack. It works both ways, with Mack drawing significant attention that often leaves Irvin in more favorable matchups.

The combination has been impactful, especially on a defense that doesn’t’ get pressure from other sources. They’ve been productive in the clutch as well, with six sacks coming in the fourth quarter. Mack has big plays the last two weeks, and Irvin has a big sack late in a victory over Houston in Mexico City.

The Raiders defense is improving, and having Irvin rushing strong recently helps Mack and the entire Raiders defense.

“He’s always been in a good groove, but there are things going well for this defense,” Mack said. “I’m on the other side, and you have coverage going well. (Opponents) try to do all the chipping and those things that play a factor in doing what we do. The fact that he’s rolling right now is not a surprise.”