Hey there, and welcome to exactly what the headline tells you this is. I understand that this is the Internet, and the popular corners of the Internet are mostly populated by pieces with absurdly vague headlines that all but require you to click through for further information. Let’s check out the front page of the Huffington Post. Like, right now. A selection of headlines: “Why We Need to March… Again.” And…well actually this isn’t very interesting. You know what I’m talking about, is the point, and it’s obnoxious, and this isn’t like that. This post is obviously about wild baseball swings from the past week. Here’s a link to the whole series, with wild swings and wild pitches. Maybe this could draw better traffic if I spruced it up with something more leading and sexy, but we don’t care about raw traffic. We care about quality traffic, like each one of you. Hold on a second, I’m getting a call from the boss, says it’s “urgent.”
-all right, we’re back, with terrible swings at low breaking balls like always. The window analyzed: August 2 through August 8, which was yesterday! If you’re reading this on August 9. The wildest swings are those swings at pitches furthest from the center of the strike zone, and based on history they tend to be swings at two-strike offspeed stuff in the dirt. I excluded ugly checked swings by Darin Ruf and John Lannan, against Jordan Walden and Brandon Beachy, respectively. Those happened in the same game. What I didn’t exclude is what follows. Check it out! You’re already here.
- Batter: Brandon Snyder
- Pitcher: Patrick Corbin
- Date: August 3
- Location: 38.4 inches from center of zone
Right after this, Snyder had a little argument with the umpire. I shouldn’t characterize it as an argument, because that’s entirely too strong. There was a mild protest, a disagreement, an insistence, but the umpire refused Snyder’s assertion that he fouled the ball off, and so the inning was officially over. Snyder, in fairness, didn’t lose his head, perhaps realizing that it wasn’t worth trying to salvage such a swing at such a pitch. When you attempt a swing like this, and the ball isn’t caught cleanly, you can always claim you touched the baseball, and maybe you did actually feel something, but you can’t be completely certain you didn’t just feel your bat scraping the dirt on the ground, and then that’s just humiliating. If you swing, and you can’t tell whether you made contact with the baseball or the dirt, you should probably just accept the umpire’s judgment and keep your head down because no matter what, you just looked like a moron.
I think, even if I swung at something like this, and even if I knew I tipped the baseball, I wouldn’t argue the point, just on the off chance I’d win the argument and then swing like this again on the following pitch. Do it once and you can claim to your teammates there was a bee or something, or a camera flash. Do it twice in a row and they’ll put you in jail.
Look at Snyder’s arms. They don’t tell us anything we couldn’t already tell from the .gif above, but I think they really help drive home the point. In two dimensions, his arms are basically perpendicular to the ground. When you’re a kid, they teach you to swing with your arms almost parallel to the ground. Growing up, they emphasize a smooth, level swing. Snyder took the optimal swing and turned it something like 90 degrees. In that regard, this is as bad a swing as Snyder could’ve taken without pointing the bat slightly toward himself. This is the part where I confess I don’t know anything about Brandon Snyder, because this is the part where it’s understandable why.
This is kind of like that whole Tigers/Indians series in a nutshell, except that in the actual Tigers/Indians series the Tigers played genuinely well while the Indians did worse. Let’s summarize exactly what we’re seeing here: it’s 0-and-2 on Hernan Perez. The catcher wants a breaking ball out of the zone, to try to get Perez to chase. With proper execution, Chris Perez could throw a slider that would look like a strike long enough to get Hernan Perez to commit. Perez throws a slider, but it’s not the slider the catcher wanted. In fact, it’s not even a catchable slider, crossing the front plane nearly three feet outside. It’s a far, far worse pitch than the Indians wanted to attempt, and they still got Hernan Perez to commit. When they see a swing like this, people always rush to suggest the hitter swung on purpose, but that just doesn’t happen. That’s giving too much benefit of the doubt to the hitters. That’s just deference to the world’s best baseball players. Sometimes they suck. Generally, the really ugly things they do aren’t done on purpose. That’s a sweet and forgiving thought, but it’s woefully naive.
Let’s summarize in a different way exactly what we’re seeing here: the pitcher made a terrible mistake. The hitter made an equally terrible mistake. The catcher was effectively uninvolved. Why is it, again, the hitter gets the reward? Why can hitters get rewarded for their most outlandishly unforgivable swings? If anything, shouldn’t the pitcher get the reward for making even his terrible pitches look somewhat appealing? On this play, Hernan Perez arrived safely at first, despite striking out. If I were commissioner, both Hernan Perez and Chris Perez would’ve been immediately ejected for playing baseball too poorly. I also wouldn’t have games keep score, and the winner would be the last team to have a player not yet ejected.
Not only did Hernan Perez swing at a ball you can’t even see because it’s hidden behind Chris Perez’s leg. No no. He swung at a pitch that outside while his own body momentum was carrying him backward. Look at his right foot. Look at his butt, up in the air. Perez’s body was trying to say “no, I’m not going to let you do this.” Perez’s brain was like #YOLO
Their eyes met, and the world around them fell. Periphery melted away and there was only the distance between them, ground to be gained, despondence to be lost. That which mattered ceased to matter; that which mattered ceased to be. There was only this that mattered, this and nothing else, this instant edifice, this eager fixation which shook awake a dormant yearning. The gaze held, one to another, another to one, a simple message expressed but unspoken: some fires must burn. Burn and hiss and smolder and smoke until all that remains is the scar of the heat.
- Batter: Chris Denorfia
- Pitcher: Boone Logan
- Date: August 4
- Location: 38.8 inches from center of zone
There, in the background, you’ll notice something. Look at the fan in the white hat, above the Sycuan sign on the left. As the ball bounces away from the catcher, the fan points ever so subtly toward first base with a big blue foam finger. The fan, then, is urging Denorfia to try to get to first, given his opportunity. Previously, the foam finger is hidden from view. The fan, also, is looking forward, clearly paying attention, and the fan would be under no delusion that everyone will be looking over there. The fan didn’t point with the foam finger to try to be funny and amuse those nearby. I can only conclude that the fan instinctively pointed, and simply forgot that there was a big blue foam finger on her hand. Now, this isn’t necessarily unusual — you can probably think of cases where people forgot their glasses were on their heads. That’s easy to forget because people are so accustomed to the sensation of having glasses on their heads. Which, naturally, leads to the question: how often does this baseball fan wear a big blue foam finger? How often do you have to wear such a comical accessory before it just starts to feel like an extension of yourself?
On the Yankees’ broadcast, at this point they had the count as 3-and-1 instead of 2-and-2. The scoreboard also apparently had the count as 3-and-1 instead of 2-and-2. When Denorfia took off and ran, I was hoping it was a case of a hitter forgetting the count, because I don’t think I’ve ever seen that before. I’ve never seen a hitter try to make it to first after swinging and missing at strike two, and that would’ve made for some promising coverage potential. But instead, no, Denorfia was right, and this was just a normal ugly stupid three-strike strikeout. It’s like, what else can the Yankees get wrong, right? Right?
We stick with the Yankees and Padres, here the day before. There’s nothing really extraordinary about the general sequence of events. Nova got ahead of a pitcher 0-and-2 and then got him to chase a breaking ball down. Nova has a good breaking ball and pitchers are almost universally terrible at this part of their job. What sets this apart, to me, is Ross after his swing attempt. Understanding that he’s now an eligible base-runner, Ross tosses his bat and jogs to first at almost the slowest possible pace. Ross acts exactly like he just drew a walk, but he didn’t walk, and he didn’t even take a single ball. He’s never walked in his professional career. This is either a demonstration of Ross being aware of the rules surrounding an uncaught third strike, or this is a demonstration of Ross not being aware of what is a walk and what is a strikeout. Given his leisurely stroll, I have to assume it’s the latter.
Tyson Ross has better form than professional major-league position player Hernan Perez. Perez, though, has a better idea of what to do after there’s a wild, uncaught third strike. Therefore, forced to pick one, I would pick suicide.
This, by the way, was how Ross’ at-bat began. Try to count the number of things wrong with this bunt attempt. One, the timing is completely off. Two, the bat isn’t held stable. Three, the hands are too close together. Four, Ross tries to stab at the ball instead of catching it with the barrel. Based on the evidence here, Tyson Ross seems to be one of the very worst hitting pitchers in baseball. This year he has hits against Patrick Corbin and Clayton Kershaw.
- Batter: Will Venable
- Pitcher: Ivan Nova
- Date: August 3
- Location: 41.3 inches from center of zone
And our top three are all Yankees pitching to Padres, with our top two both being Ivan Nova pitching to Padres. This strikeout of Venable came an inning before the strikeout of Ross, but this was a virtually identical pitch to a hitter of the opposite handedness. Venable takes a strong, forceful, confident swing, trying to drive the ball to the pull side. Related: this past offseason, the Padres brought in some of the fences to make Petco Park friendlier to left-handed hitters. The idea was to make the park more fair, and more even, and better for the hitters’ collective confidence. But Venable was used to the old alignment, and now when he’s batting, mentally, right field might as well be one giant target. Now Venable tries to pull anything and everything, because he thinks that’s where the hits are going to be, and it’s all because of Petco’s new dimensions. This is an example of how an adjustment intended to help might end up an adjustment that hurts. By the way, I did absolutely zero research for this paragraph and don’t have any idea about Venable’s actual hit tendencies, but I wanted to spend a paragraph writing like a national columnist. I still failed, though, because I wrote about the Padres.
Look at the SD design on the mound. Here, and in No. 2, the SD is nice and visible and dark. In No. 3, from the next day, it’s still there, but it’s almost completely faded, such that you have to look for it to see it. The SD represents San Diego, and the mound might represent the desert that surrounds it. There is a deep and harrowing truth within this progression.
The Worst of the Best: The Week’s Wildest Camerawork
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