We can look back and remember that gut-wrenching moment in May of 2011. And as Spring Training and the 2012 season powers into full gear, we'll read more and more about that horrible collision at home plate and see the replays on ESPN, FoxSports, and the MLB channel.
Beyond the obligatory interviews and the endless "one big question looms for the San Francisco Giants in 2012" stories is Buster Posey, a young baseball player in his third year in the Big Leagues after missing four months of his second year. And we can't really know what a talented Major League player goes through trying to rehab from major injuries and significant time away from the playing field.
For Posey I'm sure it's partly too personal and partly too complex for him to begin to articulate his actual feelings and thoughts. Even the toughest MLB player has unspoken fears and uncertain hopes heading back into the game after almost losing everything. Such experiences can linger and get in the way of things.
It's not that I think Buster Posey is different from other dedicated and talented pro athletes-- that he's tougher, or a harder worker, or the possessor of some extra special internal grit that others don't have. It's that I think Posey got a quick glimpse of the far side of his career; like an old "Twilight Zone" episode where the guy takes a photo and gets a snapshot of the future. This at an age when few players can even imagine their career has an ending.
San Francisco Giants TV broadcaster Mike Krukow has said many times that for a great number of players facing the end of their careers the idea of leaving the game can be unthinkable and scary. We see that all over the game: veterans hanging on any way they can for as long as they can. And it's not all about the money and it's not all about records and glory.
It's one more chance to get it done, one more season with the guys, one last taste of the sun and the grass on a Saturday afternoon.
A talented twenty-five year old rookie or sophmore baseball player with the potential of a great career in front of him can't begin to identify with the fear of it all ending; and they shouldn't. Luckily Posey seems like the kind of player who will take that scary snapshot and grind it into his determination to make it back, using the moment to times ten his focus and dedication.
And the Buster Posey moment I am most looking forward to at the start of the upcoming 2012 baseball season?
How about a game winning home run? Or that first tag out play at home plate? Maybe catching a complete game shutout from one of the Giants' great starting pitchers?
Don't get me wrong, all of those moments will happen and they'll be electrifying to watch. It's the stuff of MLB TV replays and endless reams of commentary and text.
But the Buster Posey moment I most look forward to will happen maybe in a game sometime in mid-April or early May.
Madison Bumgarner is throwing the hell out of the ball and the Giants are leading 2-0 in the 7th inning. There's a runner on second base with two out, and as the batter bends into his stance Buster Posey raises his arm from the squat to call time out.
He stands up and slowly walks in front of home plate. With the entire field arrayed in front of him he looks around the diamond and then signals the Giants defense a reminder that there's two out.
Then Buster Posey crouches back down behind home plate and calls the next pitch.