The Worst of the Best: The Week’s Wildest Pitches

Hey there, you, and welcome to the first part of the ninth edition of The Worst Of The Best. This right here is a link to the first part of the eighth edition, from last Friday. This right here is a link to the series section, where you can find all of the posts from the beginning. You should know that the federal government has been secretly monitoring this series, including the posts and all of the comments underneath. But because of the .gifs I unwittingly managed to lock up all their computers so there’s a chance I may have destroyed the whole program. I’m sorry, or, you’re welcome, depending. Let’s not get into that! Leave your feelings on that matter on some other blog, like NotGraphs.

Here is where we talk about wild pitches, that weren’t officially “wild pitches” but that were pitches really far from the center of the strike zone. They’re not necessarily pitches that were really far from the target, but I can’t measure that so we make do with a bunch of two-strike breaking balls. It’s a PITCHf/x top-five that excludes intentional balls for obvious reasons, and pitches just missing the cut this week include one from Antonio Bastardo to Rickie Weeks, one from Justin De Fratus to Logan Schafer, and one from Dane De La Rosa to Jason Castro. Also, others. There are .gifs, and you know that by now, and I don’t know how to make them load faster, and the list is starting, and if this takes forever to load, it’s right to be frustrated. It’s right to be frustrated. Just know that I already know.

5

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The difference between this and a two-strike breaking ball is that this is a one-strike breaking ball, with two balls already. Lincecum was behind in the count, facing a pitcher, and he opted to try a curve instead of a fastball. Now, maybe the curve was good for him that day. And I know that Johnson has hit some home runs before, when he was a Marlin. But Johnson’s also a career .125 hitter with a negative OPS+. AT&T is a big ballpark and hitting pitches is hard, even when you think you know what’s coming. Nobody should ever throw 100% fastballs when behind in the count. It’s all about the avoidance of obvious patterns. But in this situation, 99% fastballs would be appropriate. Perhaps this was that one. Or perhaps Lincecum and Buster Posey have that little confidence in his heater. Josh Johnson sucks at hitting, and, whatever. The next pitch was a fastball, and Johnson walked.

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The Giants broadcast got to talking about scuds — Jeremy Affeldt‘s term for pitches thrown in the dirt. It’s probably not Affeldt’s term, he probably picked it up somewhere, but we’re not very good at assigning original credit. Sometimes you throw a scud on purpose, if you have the hitter behind and if you want to generate a swing and miss. Affeldt claims to throw quite a few of them. This scud was very much unintentional, since it put Lincecum behind 3-and-1. I don’t know how to encapsulate recent Tim Lincecum in a nutshell, but maybe this is how, with a sharp pitch that doesn’t end up anywhere close to where it was intended. How do you feel about watching one of your franchise icons struggle for the second year in a row, Jeremy Affeldt?

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Doesn’t seem like much of a team player. That’s probably why he hurt himself with that knife. Didn’t want to be with the team.

4

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Usually, I manage to tune out the broadcasters. I don’t mean to do it, in that I don’t sit there and consciously avoid hearing words, and that wouldn’t even work since I’d be thinking about the words all along. It just kind of happens, after I turn on a game and settle into my natural state of viewing. Broadcasters seldom add anything positive to my experience, and rather than open myself up to the too-frequent ignorance, I’ve evolved, away from how I was years ago when it was all the rage to pick on announcer mistruths. That doesn’t interest me anymore. Broadcasters rarely interest me anymore. If I want to listen, I’ll listen, but most of the time, I just zone in on the action and the words that are spoken are spoken to the air around me.

But as it turns out, I’ve tuned out the words. I haven’t tuned out the sound, so when there isn’t any broadcaster sound, I recognize the circumstance as unusual. While watching, I recognized this circumstance as unusual. Because, for a full 20 seconds, the Diamondbacks broadcast didn’t utter a peep. And there wasn’t any significant crowd noise, since the game was in hand and nothing was happening. It was just baseball, quiet. Everyone, perhaps, was scrambling to Google “who is will harris”.

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This is either

Harris: that was my bad

Or

Harris: give me the ball

I’ll leave it up to you, to be determined by how polite you think Will Harris is. If it makes any difference, Harris went to school(s) in Louisiana. Look at you, rushing to judgment. The correct answer is “I can’t possibly know.”

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Not gonna lie, I just posted this screenshot so I could move on to posting the next screenshot. Shortly after the pitch above, the Diamondbacks broadcasters returned to a state of conscious awareness, and they showed an image of something from well before the game. Earlier, they pulled a screen down in front of the booth, to reduce glare and keep things out or something. Ordinarily, the screen looks like a normal screen, kind of dark and screen-y. Grid pattern, has holes. This time, things were different:

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BECAUSE THERE WAS A BAT, THERE WAS A BAT ON THE SCREEN, THERE WAS A LIVE BAT HANGING ON THE SCREEN RIGHT IN FRONT OF THEM

Producer: We have to get rid of that bat.
Producer: So
Producer:
Producer:
Producer:
Who has the balls?
Producer:
Producer:
/laughs
Others: /laugh
Bat: /laughs

3

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Above, we saw Buster Posey wave at a wild breaking ball, and move his body out of the way. It was fine, because there was no one on base, and there weren’t two strikes, so blocking the ball didn’t matter. Here, there’s no one on base, but there are two strikes, so it’s conceivable Rasmus could’ve swung. It’s actually highly conceivable, considering. So blocking the ball would matter. Yet Posey waves at the wild breaking ball, and moves his body out of the way. Let one not doubt Buster Posey’s commitment to avoiding on-field collisions.

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It’s this week’s edition of Find The Baseball. If you find the baseball, proceed to the nearest Trader Joe’s and take a box of granola. Any box of granola, of any variety by any brand. You’ve earned it. Then proceed to the cashier and pay for the granola. What are we, thieves?

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When Jose Mijares was facing forward, there was a baseball headed to the backstop. Then Mijares turned around and tended to the landing spot on the mound. When he turned back, no longer was there a baseball by the backstop, its having completely disappeared. Us, we see the ball boy. To Mijares, it’s magic. What is magic but that that happens outside of your awareness?

2

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If it weren’t for this series, I’d probably be almost completely unaware of Ramiro Pena. I mean, I know the name, and I remember him as a Yankee, but I also remember Enrique Wilson as a Yankee, and the two aren’t particularly separate in my mind. They’re just former Yankee infielders who might’ve played for New York in 2002 or 2012. There was nothing about them to speak of, so they were hardly players to remember, but this is at least the third time Pena’s name has come up in this series, and it’s only the seventh day of June and the ninth time I’ve done this. I believe the first two times I talked about Pena, he was in the wildest-swings feature. Which might well explain this wild pitch. You took one, Ramiro! Now I know that about you!

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This is a picture of either a baseball about to hit the dirt in front of the plate, or a very tiny meteor about to hit Craig Stammen.

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Umpire: I can’t find my contact lens.
Umpire: Can anybody find my contact lens?
Pena: I’ll look
Suzuki: I’ll look in almost exactly the same place
Stammen: I’ll look out here even though I don’t know how that would happen
Suzuki: Is this why you didn’t give that one strike?
Umpire: You’re ejected!
Suzuki: What was I thinking!

1

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It’s funny — this was a game where Jason Marquis beat Clayton Kershaw, and where it was Marquis who for a while threatened to throw a no-hitter. The other day a FanGraphs commenter remarked that, in this game, Kershaw didn’t really have it. Kershaw, still, finished with nine strikeouts in six innings, tying his season-high for swinging strikes with 17. This was basically Clayton Kershaw pitching like Clayton Kershaw as a rookie. Sure, we haven’t found some fountain of youth, some means by which we can physically restore ourselves to how we were when we were younger. But we can sure act young when we want. This is the most encouraging spin I can give to this Clayton Kershaw curveball.

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This two-strike pitch was blocked by Tim Federowicz, and basically by Federowicz’s groin. This is because, unlike Buster Posey, Tim Federowicz isn’t some coward.

Pitchers respond in different ways after a pitch gets away from them. Some of them patch up the mound, making it look like they slipped. Some of them look at their fingers, as if their own bodies betrayed them. Some of them audibly or physically express frustration. Some of them just quietly shake their heads.

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Clayton Kershaw makes himself throw up.

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Umpires appreciate it when a catcher keeps a wild pitch from hitting them. Catchers and umpires have a particular relationship, and when a catcher makes a block like this, it isn’t uncommon to see the umpire briefly express his gratitude. Maybe he’ll say something, or maybe he’ll give the catcher a tap. Tim Timmons, here, placed his hand on Federowicz’s back, then gave him a pat. Nothing too weird.

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Then it got weird. Tim Timmons, probably, is an uncomfortable hugger.




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Jeff made Lookout Landing a thing, but he does not still write there about the Mariners. He does write here, sometimes about the Mariners, but usually not.


19 Responses to “The Worst of the Best: The Week’s Wildest Pitches”

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  1. Shlum says:

    You’re the Jay Leno of baseball writers! No really this is good stuff.

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  2. CONSTERNATIONNATION says:

    Can’t tell if compliment…

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  3. The Ted, Section 437 says:

    I am a trifle disappointed to see all bouncers in front of the plate.

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  4. Anon21 says:

    I am surprised that the Giants ball boy managed to corral that. From what I saw when the Braves visited them, they’ve got the worst-fielding ball boys (and bizarrely, ball old men) in the league.

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  5. cass says:

    If I were an MLB pitcher and I was pitching in a low leverage situation, with no one on and two ours and two strikes or something, I’d be very tempted to groove one into the grass just to get featured here as the first pitcher of the year to hit the grass. This is not the primary reason I am not an MLB pitcher, but it is probably a small part of the reason.

    Kershaw came very, very close to hittng the grass. One of these days we’re gonna see it.

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  6. Krog says:

    Looks like Lincecum and Posey got mixed up, like Posey was expecting a fastball.

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  7. BalkingHeads says:

    That’s quite a bit of umpire love.

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  8. The Humber Games says:

    Had a shitty day and had to comment that the bat bit made me chuckle. Thanks for that.

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  9. Darien says:

    Request for clarification, Jeff: I think I may have found the baseball, and it’s now become important to me to know whether going to Trader Joe’s is mandatory or merely allowed. The reason I ask is because I checked, and it turns out I’m probably going to be late to work tomorrow if I go.

    I guess this is what I deserve for finding the baseball without reading the entire set of terms and conditions!

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  10. thirteenthirteen says:

    One interesting (?) thing about that Josh Johnson at bat: it was Lincecum’s only walk that day, making it the first time in approximately 890432 starts in which Timmy has walked only one batter. In fact, Timmy pitched excellently in that start, if not looking quite like Ye Olden Timmye, at least like a good pitcher.

    It’s interesting (?) because you would not guess that from that pitch, or indeed, from that entire at bat.

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  11. Kyle says:

    I sure did laugh a great many times while reading this.

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  12. Bad says:

    “This is because, unlike Buster Posey, Tim Federowicz isn’t some coward.” this was probably one of the funniest things I’ve ever read

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