Buster Posey: Portrait of the artist as a catcher

“Good artists copy, great artists throw out runners trying to steal” — Buster Posey

Drama pops off at CBC HQ all the time. When kooky, baseball obsessed writers gather in one spot, it’s unavoidable.

Like recently, my colleague and personal gardening consultant Mark ONeill rolled through with some premium baked goods, using ingredients fresh from his private stash farm.

The mood was mellow until he harshed the vibe. Suddenly, he became the 11 millionth voice in the echo chamber that is the argument to move Buster Posey to first base permanently.

Mark, you’re a great guy and I’m going to let you finish, but Buster Posey is one of the greatest catchers of all time! Literally!!

I’m not going to quibble over stats and advanced metrics in this piece to prove my point. I’ll leave that to the stuffy dweebs at McCovey Chronicles.

What I’m talking about here is plain and simple — The art of the game. More specifically, Posey’s artistry at catcher.

Baseball is an artform, you feel me? Just like Picasso with a paintbrush or Jimmy Page with a Les Paul, Posey at the plate is a master of his craft. Where those other weirdos created beautiful sight and sound with their medium, Posey’s artisanship results in glorious World Series trophies.

We baseball geeks have it all wrong, baby. We’re over here listening to Posey but we don’t hear Posey. Squares like Mark just listen to Posey’s argument that he is a catcher and that’s that. They don’t want to hear him explain that catching is his high calling.

Taking it further, what if the Beatles decided that after dropping “A Hard Day’s Night,” John Lennon and Paul McCartney’s voices were too valuable to lose? In the spirit of band longevity, they shifted John over to drums, put Ringo on lead guitar, let Paul stick to songwriting, and brought in someone like Eric Burden to grab the mic? Maybe you save John & Paul’s pipes for the long haul, but you’re missing out on the magic.

Truth be told, this argument is less about skill and ability and more about the baseball magic that Posey possesses. We are so distracted by stat lines and splits. We are pointing a blind eye at the  pure wizardry of Posey handling a pitching staff and managing the team on the field.

“I ain’t having it” isn’t just a sweet play and meme. It’s an artistic statement. Buster let us know from jump street that he was a catcher. Period. You could miss him with that move to first base jive.

Posey’s artwork behind the plate is worth squeezing every last drop of catching talent we can get. Moving him to first base, where he is barely average on defense, would be akin to telling Diego Rivera “We really love your murals, but what we really need you to do is paint large corporate logos on buildings from now on. Thanks.”

That’s not how any of this should work.

Like Kurt Cobain said, it’s better to burn out than fade away. Nevermind the tragic irony of that quote. I’m trying to make a point here.

Buster Posey is the Michelangelo of catching, a master craftsman who has delivered this franchise it’s greatest work and rewards. I may not get to see the Sistine Chapel ceiling in my lifetime. But I have seen Buster’s three World Series trophies. I’m certain it’s the exact same spine chilling experience.

Buster’s body of artwork has earned him the right to call his own shots. We need to accept that he’s an artist, and artists need to go out on their own terms.