I watched the play over and over and still don't believe it was a dirty hit. Estrada's left half of his body was blocking the 3rd base side of the plate. When Erstad hit him, it caused Erstad to end up on the 1st base side of the plate. I can see how some people think that Estrada wasn't blocking the plate. He was indeed blocking it. As far as him putting his shoulder into Estrada's head, where else would he have hit him. If you watch the play, Estrada is crouched down and the only other thing Erstad could have hit was his legs. I'm sorry, but if it were me, I wouldn't going head first into a catcher's legs. To me, Erstad was just trying to get to the plate, that's part of the game.
I have been a catcher for 8 years and have had several hits like this on me. At first, it always looks dirty and looks like it could have been evaded. It's part of the sport. Heck, I've played in slow pitch softball games as a catcher (team needed a fill in, didn't want to take a position players spot), and got railroaded by a man almost twice my size (I was 6' 195 lbs at the time). He knocked the crap out of me (head shot, but this was my fault cuz I was crouched down). I didn't scream and yell and claim it was a dirty hit. Like I said, it's part of the game.
As far as the hockey reference. Yes, that would get a man ejected if he went for a shot to the head. But, if you look at those hits, the player is gunning for the head and the player is not crouched down.
I don't see anything wrong with this hit. As a catcher, you know that this can happen anytime there is a play at the plate. Most runners now try to avoid this because they don't want to take the chance of hurting themselves. To me, this was an old school-play at the plate. It's nice to see that not everyone in the MLB is a pansy.
[size=9][b]Member #007 of the [url=http://fantasybaseballcafe.com/forums/viewtopic.php?t=116750&postdays=0&postorder=asc&&start=0]Yadier Molina Fan Club.[/url][/b][/size]