What my mind is working through here is a fuzzy middle ground in-between sport and self-defense. If you are quick to point out that Scott Cousins and Buster Posey are just playing a game, you would be correct. But if you think these world class athletes can't and don't exert deadly forces on each other while playing that "game", well you're just as deluded as those who play games and think that alone gets them through the chaos of combat. No one scenario teaches you all you need to know for a somewhat unpredictable combat scenario. But the lessons athletes learn can be pieces of gold along the journey to combat and self-defense wisdom.
The goal of the game is simple. Buster wants to keep Scott from touching home plate. Scott wants to get around or through Buster, and tag that plate. Does that have a real world self-defense application? Well... do you have kids? The day my oldest son was born was the day I first knew I'd be willing to die for a cause. That "home plate" could be a loved one. The "tag" could be a blow, a stab, or a shot. And if you are a professional body guard, "home plate" could be your client and your meal ticket. And you are his shield.
Buster Posey is nothing if not determined. He gets an A for effort and for heart. But life gave him a failing grade for not appreciating simple facts of physics and simple principles we apply in martial arts.
There can be no greater human force encountered in self-defense than that which one would receive by a full-grown, world-class athlete ramming into you from a full sprint with the adrenalized motivation of a game-winning run. The runner also has the advantage of being on the action end of it all. The catcher in this scenario is somewhat limited in his ability to be anything but reactive. If Buster had caught the ball half a second sooner, he could actively come forward and tag the runner with his own initiative. This is the happy scenario Van likes us to seek out if the sheet comes down. Unfortunately timing didn't work out for him. He was allowed to block the plate in the first place (and possibly prevent the run) because the ball was in play. But it was a last minute catch, and Buster had to make everything work perfectly.
Let's get past the point that Buster got distracted by the charging Scott, and so never got possession of the ball. Fear struck at that moment, and the coordination he needed to execute with precise timing just wasn't there. (Can I get an Amen!
, Van?) There but for the grace of God go you and I. Everything from that point forward was for naught. Boy does that suk! But he's a young catcher, and this was only his second year in the big leagues facing the big boys getting paid big bucks.
From that point forward, Buster failed to appreciate that his best bet was to get off or redirect the line of force - even if only slightly. Taking a charging human missile with orthogonal contact - even with protective equipment - wasn't very smart.
Sure, the equipment protected his arm and his body. But the reaction was through Buster's foundation to mother earth, and that's where things started to go terribly wrong. If you watch the video again, you can see his body naturally buckling from a passive response to the human missile. That put him INVOLUNTARILY into a backwards fall/roll. And because the foundation (his stance) was wrong, it put all the force through a hyperextending lower leg and ankle. Not only did he snap three ligaments in the ankle, but he incredibly broke the fibula in his lower leg. The long lever arm pushing on that point magnified the lateral force, and his lower leg snapped like a matchstick.
IF he was going to take the human missile head on, then he should have had a more secure foundation. If not standing in a stance that we Uechika would recognize, then a shikko stepping stance would have been the next best bet. This would have put the forces of that missile straight through the large bones of the leg into Mother Earth rather than allowing said forces to work (with a long lever arm) latterly against the lower leg bones and ankle. The collision likely would have damaged both players, but they'd have walked away from it.
A more enlightened approach would have been either to get off the line of force while "attacking" with the ball, or roll/rotate with the force while "attacking." With my aikido training, the tenshin movements were a daily practice with a nose-to-nose force situation. And yes, I was made to practice them on the knees as well. I often would get around and even "help" the force coming at me, allowing the attacker to become victim to his own forces. That's the Platonic ideal anyway. Most results short of perfect execution often are good enough to prevent serious harm to oneself. The beauty of the tenshin movement lies in using the receiving arm (a.k.a. wauke) WITH the rotation rather than a "karate by numbers" execution of our style. It is both antenna (receiving the information of force) and - if necessary - force redirection tool. Yes, Virginia, you CAN step and/or turn while doing your Uechi technique. It's the difference between Beginner 101 Sanchin robot and a fluid fighter.
I brought in the circle throw because it's just another application of the simple concept. It's another angle of escape around the line of force. I teach ukemi (the art of rolling and falling) in my Uechi dojo on day one. In my world, Uechi without grappling is like walking around with only one testicle. There is yin and there is yang. There is go, and there is ju. And there is pangainoon. We're supposed to have branch points in our practice where we can choose to do one thing or another. And the world also demands that we not give up just because we happen to be on our knees or our backs. All concepts still apply, unless it's your practice to give up in a life-threatening situation. And being able to apply the same few simple concepts on many levels (quite literally here) just means we've simplified our approach to all the many possibilities that face us. Simple is good! Simple means we react faster, and with more experience behind our parsimonious set of principles.
And yes... after I teach ukemi, I ask my black belts to face the little tykes in a standing vs. kneeling kotekitae session. My students get to learn how to apply those same rooting and force redirection concepts on the knees as well as the feet. And believe it or not, it works equally well. And... it reinforces the principles all the more.
The final point about a proper kneeling posture is the ability to roll back (without harm) when receiving too large a force. See the following..... Ushiro ukemi
How hard is that??? Note how his back leg didn't get "stuck" beneath him. Advanced ukemi is all about gaining an advantage. In the real world, maybe we toss that charging attacker over the cliff or into the chair he's trying to push us over.
And in the game of baseball, Buster Posey could have fallen on top of the plate he was attempting to defend, all while tagging Scott with the ball he deftly caught. That's the ideal anyway. We're here to theorize all while Scott and Buster try to make it work (or not) on the field.
I wish Buster a speedy recovery. And I also congratulate Scott Cousins for playing good, clean, but hard baseball. He executed on his end like a pro. His opponent hopefully will recover and learn more on another day.