Anytime you're stuck defending Marcell Ozuna, you're on the wrong side of whatever rendition of "Crossfire" you're participating in. Ruben Amaro Jr. was exactly that guy on MLB Network Tuesday when talking about the Los Angeles Dodgers-Atlanta Braves incident involving Ozuna and Will Smith.
In the fourth inning of Monday night's game, Ozuna flied out to left field, but not before his follow-through struck Smith in the head. Ozuna's extension on his swing has resulted in numerous catchers getting clocked in the helmet with a piece of lumber. Objectively, it's not safe, even with all that protective gear.
Smith, who had missed time with a concussion earlier this season, was rightfully angry. This isn't the first time Ozuna did this to him, and anytime you're worried about the health of your brain, such a reaction is totally acceptable.
Dodgers fans are glad the conversation is persisting (and growing) on Tuesday, because Smith is in the midst of an All-Star season and is arguably the best all-around catcher in MLB. If the Dodgers were to lose a player of that magnitude, it'd be difficult for them to maintain their current pace. Subbing in Barnes for Smith wouldn't exactly provide the same offensive output.
So the debate rages on! Should Ozuna, the only guy who does this somewhat consistently, alter his swing extension, or should catchers be responsible for adjusting to Ozuna's dangerous, one-of-a-kind hack?
Dodgers-Braves Will Smith-Marcell Ozuna incident sparks MLB Network debate
"They need to be aware they need to move out of the way when [Ozuna's] swinging," Amaro said. Does that sound like a foolproof solution for someone already playing the hardest defensive position in the sport?
Not only that, but the catchers being forced to adjust would result in a disadvantage for ... the catcher! Depending on where the pitcher is planning to locate the next offering, it'd force the catcher to do some maneuvering in real time, which isn't safe when somebody is hurling 100 MPH fastballs at you.
Really, it depends what you think is more important: ensuring the safety of all catchers and allowing them to occupy the space behind the plate that they have for the last 140 years, or preserving the regressing bat of Marcell Ozuna, who, statistically, has been one of the worst hitters in baseball since the start of the 2021 season (and quite honestly shouldn't even be playing in MLB after being caught red-handed in a domestic violence incident).
Ozuna is the only one in the league with this exaggerated of a bat path that has quite literally endangered catchers for years, as you can see in the compilation of incidents provided by MLB Now. Unless there's a newfound epidemic of this among hitters in the near future, why should the league force 60+ catchers to change their approach when they can eliminate it by penalizing the one offender?
For the sake of debate, MLB Now needed to present two sides of the argument, but we all know which one is correct.