Welcome to the inaugural edition of our new ‘GIFs of the Week’ segment.
Each week, for the entirety of the baseball season (or thereabouts), we are going to track down five brilliant, baffling or downright bonkers GIFs to share with you. From knee-buckling curveballs to jaw-dropping batflips to crowd members unwittingly picking their nose on live TV, there is nothing outside the remit of this series provided – of course – it’s in glorious GIF format.
Without further ado, here’s the best of the bunch from the opening week of baseball action.
5. Adam Wainwright forgets how to throw
This one picked up quite a bit of attention on social media, and rightly so. A few years ago, Jeff Sullivan of Fangraphs tracked the wildest pitches of the year, and although the winning (losing?) entrant was pretty bad I think Adam Wainwright has it beat in week one of the 2017 campaign.
His (admittedly good) excuse – that Molina had been crossed up and he was worried he would injured his catcher – gives the GIF context that makes it rather more boring.
Fortunately for the sake of humorous context, Arrieta, having just seen Wainwright throw a pitch that barely cleared the mound, swung and missed at the next pitch which bounced at least a foot in front of him. So, in a perverse way, this was the perfect set up pitch from Waino. Veteran move.
4. Andrelton Simmons reminds us why he is so good
Having heard baseball fans wax lyrical all post-season and pre-season about how great Javy Baez is at tagging, Andrelton Simmons decided to remind us all that when it comes to defense he is streets ahead of anyone.
The gif almost doesn’t do this play justice – the throw was so wild that just catching it would have been an excellent run-saving play but to get the tag down was utter defensive pornography.
This was one umpiring review where no-one complained about the extensive replays.
3. Freddie Freeman doesn’t know how to clap
We have to give some serious kudos to the MLB Cut4 team for even noticing this one. A first glimpse of Matt Kemp’s home run to give the Braves the lead doesn’t suggest anything out of the ordinary but an eagle-eyed observer spotted Freeman’s absurd clapping technique.
It raises a lot of questions. Does Freeman always clap like this? Has anyone ever told him how strange his clap is? Is Freeman nervous to clap in public because of this? How much of Freeman’s $135 million extension has he spent on clap therapy?
We may never know. One thing we do know is that we’re officially on #FreemanClapWatch for the rest of the season here at B&N.
2. Mike Trout pops a balloon with his eyes
Those of you who have followed the weird internet side of baseball for a while may well be familiar with a sensation that exploded around 2008 known as ‘Matt Wieters Facts’. The website, which I encourage you to check out, detailed a number of Chuck Norris-esque baseball feats that Wieters could supposedly perform after he shredded Double-A to the tune of a 1.085 OPS as a 22 year old.
Such a website never materialised in Mike Trout’s honour as a prospect, although one feels that it is long overdue. Not only has Trout started the 2017 season as red-hot as ever, he has also now shown off his extraordinary ability to pop balloons with a mere glance.
If this doesn’t serve as a particularly threatening warning sign to any fans planning to invade the field at Angel Stadium this year then I truly don’t know what does.
1. Michael Lorenzen hits a pinch-hit home run
Christian Bethancourt has enjoyed some serious publicity this off-season as he attempted to become a two-way player for the Padres, contributing in the bullpen and in the field.
As that experiment turned to hot garbage in the opening week of the season, Michael Lorenzen quietly hit the first pinch-hit home run by a pitcher since 2009. Just watching Lorenzen take swings makes you realise he is not a normal pitcher in the batters box and bombs like this make it more likely he’ll get pinch-hit opportunities as the season progresses.
This home run was particularly cool because the Reds didn’t get a single pinch hit home run last season. Bryan Price must have torn his hair out watching a reliever bop one in the first week of 2017.