And Now for Something Completely Different

Larry Stone with a fun piece on his favorite plays in a baseball game.

Supposing you were going to go to one game this week, and didn't know a thing about it, other than that it was going to have one particular play in it.  You didn't know the opponent, the starting pitcher, the outcome... but you did get to pick Tuesday, Friday, or Saturday based on knowing it would have a particular play in it.  Which play would you want to see?

I agree with Stone on #1, #4, and #6 in his article, but beyond that, here are the fave plays in Jemanji's warped reality...


Z.  A good baserunner kill.

In the Kingdome, a Mariner pitcher tossed one down the RF line trying to pick the runner off.  The ball rattled around in the bullpen.  The runner hit second and took off for third.

Charging into the bullpen was Jay Buhner, jaw grimly set and a Sylar scowl on his face.  Bone smoothly scooped the ball, did a perfect footwork-hop.  Quickly but not hurriedly, he overhanded a deliberate, powerful throw that bounced once and hit the third baseman in the mitt.

The ump punched the runner out, with gusto.  Buhner was stomping back to his position like a gunslinger, glaring back at third base. 

I looked over at Cindy.  She was staring at Buhner, tears trickling down her face.


Related to this is the attempt to take a base.  Stolen bases, 1st-to-3rds, are great to watch, and I n-e-v-e-r mind if the runner's thrown out.  It takes so much to occur, perfectly, to get the runner, and you give the runner credit for putting pressure on the opponent.

I especially like when the runner pressures the opponent, should have been thrown out, and the throw is wide or the ball dropped. 

It takes a special kind of fielder to throw hard, but under control, as Ichiro does and as Buhner always did.


Y.  A 14-strikeout performance.

When Randy Johnson pitched in the Kingdome, baseball was a first-person shooter video game.

Sometimes you get a similar feeling from Erik Bedard and/or Felix Hernandez.  ...when the starting pitcher is just taking his pick of which pitch to use for strike three, time stops for me and the world is the width of the ballpark.


X.  A player out of position. 

In a Lou Piniella game, you might see Jeff Nelson in left field, or 5 infielders, or somebody weird catching or something.  If you told me that Ichiro (or any other position player) was going to get an inning on the mound, I'd pay box-seat prices to sit in the bleachers.

This actually occured in 2009, quite a bit.  It was called Jack Hannahan, SS.  If Capt Jack and Wok had done nothing else, that act alone would have cleansed my palate of all the MLB(TM) pate that we had in the years previous.

No special reason; I just like seeing great athletes apply their talent to unfamiliar challenges.  I'll bet Jeff Nelson would have been by far the best outfielder in your park-and-rec softball league.


Part II



I love a lot of my favorite baseball plays are defensive gems...
10) The HR where it's gone as soon as it leaves the bat (the kind where I'm watching on the computer screen and there's the pitch and before the batter even swings, I KNOW it's about to be a monster HR...and the ball takes off and the announcer just hollars something like "There it goes!!")
9) Power vs. Power ending in a big K in a tight spot (Felix vs. A-Rod with the bases loaded and two outs...A-Rod works it to run lead...and BOOM Felix beats him with high cheese!)
8) Outfield assists on unconventional plays (throwing behind a runner who got caught napping for a DP or nailing a runner who is normally safe when he goes first to third etc)
7) Getting the lead runner on a sacrifice bunt (I love it when the other guys try for that nice safe sac bunt and someone (usually the pitcher or catcher but sometimes Beltre) makes a great play on it and gets the guy at second. :) )
6) Stolen bases (either by legit steal attempt or advancing unexpectedly far on apparently routine hits)
5) 15 pitch at bats (the battle that never ends...neither side willing to budge...foul after foul...the tension heightening with each pitch)
4) Triples (everyone loves triples)
3) Spectacular DPs (a standard crisp DP is boring...a DP that starts with a great play up the middle or a back-handed stab and flip from his knees or includes a brilliant pivot at second or a great stretch/scoop at first etc...those are fun)
2) When triples die (Franklin Gutierrez or Ichiro zipping into the gap and just appearing on my screen out of nowhere as the announcer is calling the double or triple and lunging and making a great catch)
1) Walk-off magic (it doesn't matter how, as long as it's earned...anything where my home team boys walk off victorious in their last at bat is good by me)


Surprising how blow-for-blow I'm with you on all of that... :- )
I'd forgotten about the "challenge" 97+ fastball to a dangerous 40-homer man.  That's awesome.
A diving DP or a creative flip into a DP, that is a completely different subject... a couple of times I've seen a 2B throw behind his back to the SS ...

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Anonymous's picture

Was this just coincidence that you posted this on Tues, John Cleese's 70th B-day?


dives low and way to his right, like a soccer goalie protecting the post, to get an angle around the runner sliding in.
Then somehow the ball comes out with nice pace on it and nails the runner by a half stride.
Never saw that one before.  :- ) Thanks OBF

Anonymous's picture

Wong's throwing motion started before his feet left the ground, so he had a stable base from which the throw started...  he knew he was going to be leaving his feet, so the jumping didn't disrupt his arm.  Very nice coordination & timing.

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