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Remember that time with Adrian Beltre and the on-deck circle?Tony Gutierrez/Associated Press
When you’re watching a Major League Baseball game, not all your reactions are an “ooh” or an “aah.” Sometimes, all you can say is “d’oh!”
So, please join us on a journey through the best baseball bloopers of the last decade.
It’s admittedly hard to define what “bloopers” are, but we settled on a basic notion of them as mishaps and misadventures that carry no shame in laughing at. Harmless schadenfreude, in other words.
In any case, we devised 12 categories of bloopers and chose one representative for each. We then ranked them according to their memorability and overall qualities as comedy bits.
Let’s count ’em down.
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That being: They’re not professional athletes. Their day jobs involve rapping/singing into a microphone. That requires a skill set with little crossover with that of somebody whose profession requires getting a spherical object from Point A to Point B in a timely, accurate manner.
Now, John Wall on the other hand: There’s a guy who ought to be ashamed of his actions from the night of June 17, 2011.
The Washington Nationals invited Wall, who still stars for the NBA’s Washington Wizards, to throw out the first pitch before a tilt with the Baltimore Orioles at Nationals Park. His windup was solid, but he delivered the ball like a toddler trying to high-five a member of the Bol family.
On the plus side, at least nobody got hit in the groin. And speaking of which…
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As The Simpsons proved with Hans Moleman in Man Getting Hit by Football, nothing can be funnier than a man getting hit in the groin by a football.
But a baseball? Nuh-uh. That’s just plain dangerous. Seriously, certain things can rupture.
Every now and then, however, a baseball to the groin can go into the folder marked “Harmless Fun.” Take, for instance, what happened to Kansas City Royals outfielder Nori Aoki on May 30, 2014.
In the third inning of a game against the Toronto Blue Jays, Aoki took off after a pop fly that was ticketed for foul ground beyond the right field line. He had a good read on it, and his slide was on target. His glove, though, neither caught the ball nor succeeded in shielding his nethers from it.
Though Aoki was unscathed physically, it might not help his pride that the video will live on forever. It’s just too bad that the incident will never be made into an Oscar-winning film starring George C. Scott.
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When something unfortunate happens to a player, it’s not always the player’s fault.
But anyone can pick a fight with a glove, a cooler or a phone and come away a winner. It’s not as easy to win a fight with a bat, and nobody knows that better than Carlos Gomez.
As a member of the Milwaukee Brewers on July 12, 2014, Gomez fell prey to a curveball in the dirt from St. Louis Cardinals ace Adam Wainwright in the fifth inning. He determined his bat needed to be punished to a point where it would rest in pieces.
Trouble is, wood is sturdier than flesh. At least three times sturdier in this case, leaving Gomez little choice but to give up and return his lumber to the earth. A tough loss, to be sure, but he didn’t have to then take it out on his helmet, elbow guard and batting gloves.
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Almost everything that happens in baseball can be explained by physics.
Why did that batted ball travel that far? Because it was hit at X angle with Y speed. Why did that pitch break like that? Because it was thrown from A arm slot with B rotation. And so on.
But notice we said physics can explain “almost everything” in baseball. Because we’re honestly still not sure how that ball stuck to Yadier Molina’s chest protector on April 6, 2017.
The first explanation everyone reached for was that the St. Louis Cardinals catcher must have had a foreign substance on his chest protector. But he denied this, and a consequent MLB investigation turned up no evidence of a violation.
What’s beyond debate is that this incident is still good for a few yucks even three years later. From the way Molina initially spun around in confusion to his “aw, shucks” reaction upon realizing where the ball was, this comedy is about as golden as the chest protector he later wore at that year’s All-Star Game.
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Can you beat The Freeze?
Well, maybe not you, specifically, but it can be done. Though the Atlanta Braves’ resident sprinter has vanquished many a foe since making his debut as a between-innings attraction at Truist Park in 2017, a lucky few have maintained their sizable head starts on him all the way to the finish line.
Just know this: If you do happen to find yourself racing The Freeze, don’t be that guy.
You know, the guy from June 9, 2017. The guy who was close enough to victory to feel the thrill of it and who wanted to share that feeling with his adoring crowd. But alas, also the same guy who then lost his lead on The Freeze and tripped and fell headlong into his ruination on the warning track.
If you want to give the video a watch, go ahead and help yourself to a laugh. Just not you, Nick Young. Your laughing-at-premature-celebration privileges are still revoked, and you know why.
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Unlike the dude who (literally) crashed and (figuratively) burned against The Freeze, Chad Qualls at least earned his right to celebrate on July 30, 2013.
The pressure was on as the Miami Marlins right-hander was facing down New York Mets infielder Omar Quintanilla in the eighth inning. The game was tied 2-2 and there were runners on first and third. Any bad pitch by Qualls carried the risk of one, two or even three runs scoring.
To his credit, Qualls threw a good pitch. His 2-2 slider ran right in on the hands of Quintanilla, who couldn’t check his swing. Surely, a strikeout on a pitch like that and in a situation like that deserved a fist pump.
Unfortunately, Qualls learned the hard way that one can’t neglect the delicate footwork required of any fist pump. Down he went, and in full view of more than 20,000 paying customers.
It wasn’t all bad, though. Qualls recovered gracefully and wore the L like a champ as his teammates and coaches let him hear anything but the end of it in the dugout.
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For whatever reason, Comerica Park proved to be a hot spot for dingers that shouldn’t have been dingers during the 2010s.
There was that time in 2011 when a Miguel Olivo line drive went over the wall by way of Ryan Raburn’s glove. Even better—or worse, depending on your outlook—was Mikie Mahtook’s malignant mishap on September 3, 2017.
In the first inning, Cleveland Indians star Jose Ramirez lined a ball that bounced off the yellow lining on the left field wall not once, but twice. Mahtook merely needed to field the ricochet cleanly to hold Ramirez to a double.
Instead, Mahtook attacked the ball like a cat going after a plush mouse on the end of a string. He then seemed to forget he had opposable thumbs, much less a mitt on one hand.
Such is how the ball ended up slapped over the wall for the first of Ramirez’s two homers in an 11-1 win. Here’s hoping he sent Mahtook a bottle of something expensive as a way of saying thanks.
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Contrary to popular belief, pop-ups are hard to catch.
They may seem like they go straight up and straight down. But in actuality, when they go up, they’re intercepted by a race of cloud-dwelling Hoyt Wilhelms and tossed back to earth as knuckleballs.
Still, pop-ups aren’t quite as difficult to turn into outs as the Chicago White Sox made it look in the ninth inning against the New York Mets on June 25, 2013.
Nobody on Chicago’s side comes off looking particularly good here, but Gordon Beckham surely looks the worst. From his aimless charge in from his spot at second base to his collision with Conor Gillaspie, he effectively showed what it would be like to watch a bull wander into a china shop in real time.
Poor Hawk Harrelson clearly had a bunch of four-letter words he wanted to put on the board. But things at least ended well for Chicago, as Beckham later got on base in the White Sox’s game-winning rally in the bottom half of the inning.
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Wherever Tom Emanski is these days, he must have shed a tear when he saw what befell Marcell Ozuna on April 9, 2019.
The ball hit by Los Angeles Dodgers utility man Enrique Hernandez in the eighth inning shouldn’t have provided too great a challenge for the St. Louis Cardinals left fielder. He’s a Gold Glover, and the ball itself seemed like a can of corn.
Ozuna, however, clearly read home run off the bat and reacted accordingly. His instincts told him to stake out a position on the left field wall first, and turn around and find the ball second. If the ball had enough distance, it might have worked.
Perhaps because the wind was blowing from left to right that day, that didn’t happen. Ozuna did his best to recover, only to end up hitting the warning track harder than the ball did. Somewhere out there, somebody with a trombone played four melancholy notes.
But hey, at least the Cardinals won the game. Surely that allowed Ozuna to salvage some dignity.
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If anyone needs familiarizing with the term “TOOTBLAN,” it stands for “Thrown Out On The Basepaths Like A Nincompoop.”
TOOTBLANs come in all shapes and sizes, though they don’t necessarily have to be as humorous as the terminology would suggest. More often than not, TOOTBLANs are somewhere between frustrating and infuriating.
The ultimate exception to the rule is what happened to then-Houston Astros utility man Jonathan Villar on September 17, 2013.
Upon knocking a line drive to center field, Villar got it in his head to stretch a single to a double. But Cincinnati Reds center fielder Shin-Soo Choo made an accurate throw to second base, where the ever-clever Brandon Phillips went for style points by simply sticking his glove between his legs.
The glove tagged Villar’s chest. Villar’s face got up close and personal with Phillips’ butt. And perhaps the second-most famous butt-related gag in the history of sports was born.
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Hell hath no fury like a pitcher unwittingly distracted by Motley Crue.
To be fair, this is an extremely specific scenario. It feels weird just to bring it up, as it’s sort of like bringing up the possibility that a TV crew could blast a cannonball through your wall. It happened once, and it might happen again, but probably not.
Still, there might be a better chance of that history repeating than there is of another pitcher ever going through what J.J. Putz went through on August 10, 2013.
It was the ninth inning at Chase Field, and the Arizona Diamondbacks closer was on the mound to get some work in against the New York Mets. As Putz readied a one-out pitch to Justin Turner, everything was quiet. Serene, even.
But then, somebody in the audio booth accidentally pushed play on “Kickstart My Heart,” and the opening guitar riff shattered the silence and shorted every last one of Putz’s circuits. He won’t ever forget that pitch, even if the umpire ruled it technically wasn’t a pitch.
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When he retired from baseball in 2018, Adrian Beltre was known for three things: his superior defense, his outstanding hitting and his hilarious hijinks.
Beltre dabbled in enough tomfoolery during his career to fill an 11-minute highlight video. Among the things he enjoyed were running around, dancing, striking poses, hitting homers off one knee and going into full bloodlust mode when anyone dared to touch his head.
Beltre’s most original work of art, however, came July 26, 2017.
As the Texas Rangers were being blown out by the Miami Marlins in the eighth inning, umpire Gerry Davis asked that Beltre await his turn at-bat in the on-deck circle rather than several feet away from it. Beltre seemed to have a brilliant solution: Why not bring the on-deck circle to me?
The bad news is that he got ejected for it. But for anyone who likes a good laugh, that he got ejected for it is also the good news.
All videos courtesy of Major League Baseball, via YouTube.