SAN FRANCISCO — Once again, Buster Posey stood on one side of the action without too much assistance to offer.
“Just trying to get ready to play a game today,” Posey said Tuesday afternoon, as reporters gathered in front of him.
In the 24 hours that followed the Bryce Harper-Hunter Strickland brawl, Posey had become the surprising lightning rod. People had questions. Plenty of them. But he still wasn’t offering too many answers.
Why didn’t Posey get in between Strickland and Harper when he charged the mound? Why did the umpire of all people beat Posey out to the scrum? Why did it take five seconds for Posey to move toward the action? Had the Giants told him not to get involved in such things to avoid injury? Did Strickland tell him to stay out of it? Did Posey hate Strickland?
Talk radio and the Internet offered a plethora of opinions in the aftermath of the brawl. And many of them were about Posey. It was everything from Posey being the smartest man on the field to Posey being too soft. Now that Round Two of the Giants vs. Nats offered no additional fisticuffs, the attention will likely still be on Posey.
As he stood in front of his locker before Tuesday’s 6-3 loss at AT&T Park, Posey was facing a different type of fracas, a throng of media people who wanted answers. He offered none.
“Just trying to get ready to play a game today,” Posey repeated.
He said it again and again — like the aww-shucks version of Marshawn Lynch.
Posey smiled each time. He’s too smart and too guarded to say anything that will generate the sexy headlines people are hoping for or that will satisfy the hot-takers who spent the day questioning what Posey did or did not do and why he did or did not do it.
Mike Golic of ESPN’s “Mike & Mike” called out Posey for not jumping to his teammate’s defense. Curt Schilling — of course he got involved in this — tweeted that Posey was the real story, not Harper or Strickland, then wrote a blog post basically calling Posey a bad teammate.
Bay Area radio was flooded with fan opinions. One e-mailer wrote to Yahoo Sports and said Posey should be suspended “for impersonating a team leader, All-Star player and MVP.” How quickly they forget about those World Series rings.
All because Posey didn’t get involved in a ridiculous baseball brawl stemming from a couple of homers that Harper hit off Strickland all the way back in the 2014 postseason, which we’ll remind you, is when the Giants won one of those World Series rings.
After Monday’s brawl and before he became part of the national conversation, Posey explained his decision this way:
“Well I mean after it happened, I kind of saw Harper point. Next thing you know, he’s going out after him. Those are some big guys tumbling around on the ground. You see Mike Morse, is about as big as they come, and he was getting knocked around like a pinball. So … be a little dangerous to get in there sometimes.”
On Tuesday, Posey wasn’t saying anything remotely as detailed. However, Harper had his own theory about why Posey wasn’t in the thick of the brawl. Read into it what you will.
“I think that just goes to show the reaction of everybody being shocked and surprised,” Harper said. “It’s definitely a dangerous situation — throwing a 98 mph fastball and hitting somebody. A lot of their guys were shocked. Buster was definitely shocked and not looking for that to happen.”
Some days we are all Buster Posey. pic.twitter.com/otWXoh1tDl
— Panicked Rizzo (@notARizzo) May 29, 2017
Whatever the reasoning, it was something that was at least discussed in the privacy of the Giants clubhouse. Manager Bruce Bochy answered the hot question of the day, but didn’t say too much in the process.
“Some things we’d like to keep internal and I’ll leave it at that,” Bochy said. “It’s time to move on.”
Easier said than done.
At least Chicago Cubs starter Jake Arrieta seemed to appreciate Posey’s choice. This is what Arrieta told 670 The Score in Chicago, which is less about Posey and more about Arrieta wanting to fight his own fights.
“If it’s my catcher, I want him to wait and give me an opportunity to do a little damage,” Arrieta said. “I don’t want it broken up right away. If it happens, I’ll let you know. I’ll be ready. You know, I like my chances toe to toe with just about anybody. I know Willson (Contreras) would probably beat whoever charges the mound to the mound, but I’ll tell him and Miggy (Montero), ‘Hey, give me 10, 15 seconds to get some work in and then come out and see me.’ ”
Now, deserved or not, some Giants fans and sports tough guys will pin this on Posey for a while — they’ll remember it next time they want to criticize Posey or the next time they’re looking for an example of a player avoiding a brawl.
Clayton Kershaw didn’t get the same treatment when he walked through the middle of a benches-cleared shouting match between the Dodgers and the Giants a couple weeks back.
Apparently it’s a different story when punches are thrown and the face-of-the-franchise catcher isn’t ready to risk injury to defend a relief pitcher’s 3-year-old beef.
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