Wronging a Right: Or, How to Play the Game Incorrectly

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It is on rare and happy occasions, perhaps akin to a white buffalo riding Halley’s Comet into a quiet Christopher Russo, or a loud Christopher Russo accepting his fate as the victim of the same cometary bovine, that that we hear analysts speak of players who “do things the right way.” This way of doing things correctly, or at least not incorrectly, is an achievement so exceptional, so absolutely white-buffalo-riding-Halley’s-Comet-into-a-blissful-dream uncommon, that fans might go years or even decades without hearing an expert place it squarely atop the scale of things as they have now been done. Yes? But have you ever stopped to consider – I mean really stopped, like at a crosswalk – how things are best done the wrong way?

Right way: Pitcher pitches ball, follows through, assumes defensive position.

Wrong way: Pitcher pitches ball, follows through, stimulates parieto-occipital junction to achieve lucid dreaming, in which state he becomes – and is aware that he becomes – a rabid hyena in the wilds of the Serengeti, whereupon he eats the shortstop before snarling at a group of hungry umps whose runt he quickly devours.

Right way: Batter hits ball, drops bat, runs toward first base.

Wrong way: Batter hits ball, drops bat, cracks eggs into a bowl and adds half a teaspoon of vanilla extract, four tablespoons of milk and a dash of cinnamon.

Right way: Infielder crouches for grounder, fields it, throws to first.

Wrong way: Infielder crouches for grounder, fields it, hoists up the John B’s sail, sees how the mainsail sets, calls for the captain ashore, “Let me go home.”

Right way: Runner waits for outfielder to catch ball, tags, sprints toward plate.

Wrong way: Runner waits for outfielder to catch ball, tags, engages in a fierce pas de deux with the third baseman – a sort of push-pull adagio that yields to a passionate coda in which the frisson of male bonding immediately flares into the strain of mano-a-mano survival, the runner turning toward the dugout and the fielder holding him back in a gesture that is part caress and part sleeper hold.

Right way: Outfielder judges trajectory, settles under fly ball, catches it.

Wrong way: Outfielder judges trajectory, settles under fly ball, vomits.

Right way: Batter squares to bunt, gauges pitch location, bunts.

Wrong way: Batter squares to bunt, combusts.

Right way: Catcher crouches behind plate, gives sign, prepares to receive pitch.

Wrong way: Catcher vomits, combusts.

Right way: Runner takes lead, watches pitcher, breaks for second base.

Wrong way: Runner takes lead, watches pitcher, gives birth to twins.

Right way: Shortstop catches toss, touches second, fires to first for double play.

Wrong way: Shortstop catches toss, touches second, fires to third for no reason, compounding the error by criticizing U.S. foreign policy as it relates to China.

Right way: Outfielder sprints into gap, dives, extends to make catch.

Wrong way: Outfielder drinks moonshine and makes crude remarks.

Right way: Third baseman charges bunt, fields barehanded, fires to first.

Wrong way: Third baseman returns overdue library book.

Right way: Second baseman sprints to second, catches throw, tags runner.

Wrong way: Second baseman sprints to second, has erection lasting four hours.

Right way: First baseman stands near bag, extends glove, keeps runner close.

Wrong way: First baseman converts jock strap into origami swan.

Right way: Batter takes strike three, accepts conclusion, returns to dugout.

Wrong way: Batter takes strike three, rejects conclusion, goes full Rambo, disguising himself with foul-line chalk and waiting for his chance to pounce.

Right way: Player gets uniform dirty, wants to win.

Wrong way: Player gets win dirty, wants to uniform.




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John, who has also written under the pseudonym "Azure Texan," writes for both The Hardball Times and NotGraphs.


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James
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James
2 years 3 months ago

Im sorry did you say “Christopher Russo???”

Soup
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Soup
2 years 3 months ago

It is now so much clearer! I finally understand how to play baseball!

MDBuc
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MDBuc
2 years 3 months ago

Wrong way: Outfielder drinks moonshine and makes crude remarks.

I disagree, although not optimal, it’s acceptable.

Ruth and Mantle
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Ruth and Mantle
2 years 3 months ago

IT’S NOT JUST ACCEPTABLE! IT BEGETS GREATNESS!

AC of DC
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AC of DC
2 years 3 months ago

I could never stand that whiny crouching infielder. If he keeps up that sniveling, I’ll give him something to “feel so broke up” about.

Ken
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Ken
2 years 3 months ago

Right way: This article.

Wrong way: Other articles.

I laughed my posterior off. Thanks, John!

Anonymous
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Anonymous
2 years 3 months ago

Right Way: Pitcher looks in at sign, checks on runner at first, throws corresponding pitch.

Wrong Way: Pitcher looks in at sign, fires up Netflix queue, falls asleep on couch.

Ron Washington
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Ron Washington
2 years 3 months ago

Right Way: Bunt every damn third game

Wrong Way: Tell me how to @#%*ing manage

Mike Green
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Mike Green
2 years 3 months ago

Right Way: As a left-handed hitter facing Marc Rzepczynski, keep your lead shoulder tucked in and drive the ball back up through the box

Wrong Way: As a left-handed hitter facing Marc Rzepczynski, buy two vowels and solve.

Marcel Duchamp
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Marcel Duchamp
2 years 3 months ago

I’m glad to see my work has inspired posterity

Mr Bookman
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Mr Bookman
2 years 3 months ago

Regarding that overdue library book being sheepishly returned by the 3B:

Well, let me tell you something, funny boy. Y’know that little stamp, the one that says “New York Public Library”? Well that may not mean anything to you, but that means a lot to me. One whole hell of a lot. Sure, go ahead, laugh if you want to. I’ve seen your type before: Flashy, making the scene, flaunting convention. Yeah, I know what you’re thinking. What’s this guy making such a big stink about old library books? Well, let me give you a hint, junior. Maybe we can live without libraries, people like you and me. Maybe. Sure, we’re too old to change the world, but what about that kid, sitting down, opening a book, right now, in a branch at the local library and finding drawings of pee-pees and wee-wees on the Cat in the Hat and the Five Chinese Brothers? Doesn’t HE deserve better? Look. If you think this is about overdue fines and missing books, you’d better think again. This is about that kid’s right to read a book without getting his mind warped! Or: maybe that turns you on, Seinfeld; maybe that’s how y’get your kicks. You and your good-time buddies. Well I got a flash for ya, joy-boy: Party time
is over. Y’got seven days, Seinfeld. That is one week!

asdf
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asdf
2 years 3 months ago

A lot of vomiting and combustion

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