They say in baseball that the World Series cannot be won in the first month of the season, but it can certainly be lost.
Fans of the Blue Jays, Giants and Mets may all feel that their post-season aspirations are quickly evaporating and history would bear out that pessimism: of the six division winners last season, not a single team was below .500 at this stage of the year.
For fans of the Yankees, Reds and Rockies, however, 2017 has been nothing but a pleasant surprise so far, as all three teams find themselves at the business end of particularly competitive divisions.
As the grind of everyday baseball starts to kick in, we’re certain to see the contenders separated from the pretenders but I can guarantee one thing: there are no pretenders in these Top 5 GIFs.
5. Miguel Montero establishes the pitch inside
The emergence of Willson Contreras and Kyle Schwarber as the lynch-pins of the Chicago Cubs line-up has limited Montero’s playing time this season, but he has established himself as the go to position player for late inning mop-up duty.
Despite almost taking Chris Carter‘s head off with his message pitch, Montero cruised through a 1-2-3 inning which brought his career ERA down to 3.86 and made him a dangerously qualified candidate to replace Brett Anderson in the Cubs rotation.
4. Aaron Hicks gets rather confused
We tend to see a few of these sorts of occurrences every season, which isn’t altogether surprising given that a baseball is the same colour as the sun and floodlights.
We do tend to see outfielders make a little more effort to disguise their confusion however, with Aaron Hicks seemingly giving up all hope of making a play on this one from the moment it left the bat.
Unfortunately, the ball lands ten rows deep in the bleachers and we are robbed of the chance to see Hicks standing dead still, mouth agape, arms outstretched as the ball rolls to a stop 10 feet behind him.
3. Pedro Strop gets extremely excited
This is our third GIF already from the weekend’s Cubs v Yankees series, and amazingly not a single one has come from the 18-inning strikeout-a-thon that took place Sunday night.
With his sideways hat, erratic control and devastating stuff, Pedro Strop has been one of baseball’s more entertaining pitchers for a while now, and he gets extremely amped up about this eighth inning strikeout of the home-run machine formally known as Aaron Judge.
No more than 15 minutes later, he would sit helplessly on the sideline as Hector Rondon blew the 9th inning lead. Fortunately, Strop’s premature celebration is immortalised in GIF perfection.
2. We are all John Jaso
Watching outfielders like Kevin Pillar, Billy Hamilton and Kevin Kiermaier make jaw-dropping plays on a seemingly daily basis can rather dull our senses to just how impossibly difficult baseball is to play.
Anyone who has ever tried to catch even the most routine fly ball will realise what a pants-stainingly stressful task it is, and John Jaso‘s panicked cock-up is a refreshing testament to how good most Major League outfielders are.
As the fairly routine line drive off the bat of T-Rex flies over the flailing limbs, disappointing hair and frankly abominable uniform of Jaso, we get a rare glimpse at just how useless any of us would look on a Major League baseball field.
1. Ben Gamel shows us how it’s done
It might not have the statcast numbers popping but this spectacular play from Mariners outfielder Ben Gamel is one of the most hardcore catches you’ll ever see.
With his hat flying off as he hits the ground, there was understandable concern for the health of the 24 year old former Yankee but he shrugs it off with a hair flip so majestic it should come with a safety warning.
Consider this a shot across the bow of Bryce Harper, who suddenly finds himself in competition for the outfield’s best flow.
I’ll be honest with you, this is a pretty weird bonus GIF but I had to share it to ensure I wasn’t the only one to sit through this 30 seconds of bizarro TV.
Quite why I (or anyone) was watching the eighth inning of a Rockies 5-0 Diamondbacks game is a different question, and assuming no one was tuning in is the best explanation I can find for why ROOT Sports decided to sneak this clip in to their coverage.
This is meant as no slight on the young Rockies fan, who looks understandably uncomfortable being filmed eating what appears to be wet, slimy smarties but when ‘cute kid eating ballpark food’ is no longer a safe way to spend 30 seconds of dead air, the end is nigh for baseball broadcasters.