It’s doubtful that the Mayans actually believed that December 21st marked the end of days. It’s far more likely that the author of a particular Maya codex believed that a calendar going two thousand years into the future was sufficient, and ceased using the software program that printed out his or her calendar. Nonetheless, the idea of an apocalypse got me thinking, and I found that I was far more comfortable with the idea of dying along with the masses than I was with meeting death alone.
Prior to this, I had always assumed that my fear of death was some sort of fear of the unknown. That’s not really the case though. I feel fairly confident in my beliefs that with death comes personal nothingness. So, why am I so apprehensive about my own death, but far less so if it’s with the rest of the human population? I think it’s ultimately a fear of missing out. I don’t want to not see my girlfriend smile, miss out on my mom hugging me or not be able to get that link emailed to me with the super cute puppies all hanging out in a basket with their kitten buddies.
As sad as it sounds, I also don’t want to miss out on baseball. I love it. I love watching it. I love playing it. And I love talking or writing about it. If it’s being able to partake in these small moments that make life worth living, then it’s not a stretch to suggest that it’s the small moments that also make being a baseball fan worthwhile. Here are my favorite ten moments from the 2012 season, that I would have hated to miss.
Phil Humber’s Perfect Game
Phil Humber threw a perfect game. This, in itself, is certainly extraordinary. However, there were two things that happened to make this event all the more memorable. First, is this:
This velocity chart is the most holy-shit-I’ve-got-a-perfect-game-going of velocity charts of all-time. The humanity of this moment was only emphasized by Humber’s post-game interview when the pitcher’s genuineness shone through in a manner not normally seen in the post-game genre of interviews. He somehow managed to thank every single person on earth before the interview was over without an once of false modesty.
Matt Kemp Is Unbelievable
Matt Kemp was unbelievable during the first month of the season. While his walk-off heroics on multiple occasions during this period are the most likely to be remembered, a smaller incident stands out in my mind as the best representation of his dominance. Watch as poor Washington Nationals starter Ross Detwiler, after giving up a single to Kemp in his previous plate appearance, just can’t win.
That was third third pitch of the at bat, and it was rather perfectly placed by Detwiler, who was up 0-2 in the count at the time. He threw a 93 miles per hour fastball about as low and inside as is humanly possible without hitting a batter’s shins, and somehow, Kemp’s tremendous bat speed allowed him to pull the ball through the infield for another single. Adding to how tremendous this little bit of two strike hitting was, of course, Detwiler’s reaction, who, unbelieving, watches the ball fall in for a hit, looks at Jesus Flores, his catcher, then at Kemp, back to Flores and then the beleaguered pitcher checks the field one more time to confirm the ball got through.
David Vs. Goliath
New York Mets reliever Jon Rauch is 6’11″ tall, or 211 centimetres for those who prefer the metric system. Houston Astros second baseman Jose Altuve is 5’5″ tall or 165 centimetres for those who prefer the metric system.
The picture above is of those two players, with a foot and a half difference in height, facing each other on a baseball diamond. The tallest player in baseball versus the shortest. Obviously, in such a situation, the results matter far less than the matchup, but just in case you’re wondering how this turned out, Rauch won the battle, getting Altuve to line out to the first baseman.
This is Derrick Salberg making a leaping catch over the left field bullpen fence with a runner on to record the final out of the ninth inning and quite literally save the game for his Lower Columbia College Red Devils in the first round of the NWAACC Baseball Championships at David Story Field on Friday.
There was not a greater play in all of baseball this season.
It’s just your typical no-handed home run off the bat, literally, of Cincinnati Reds third base understudy Todd Frazier:
It’s remarkable that two weeks later Frazier saved a man’s life who was choking on food at a restaurant, and it wasn’t the most amazing thing he did that month.
These Are The Breaks
When I was fifteen years old, a girl named Sophie made me understand what it meant to feel weak in the knees. It was at a point in my life when intentions were still innocent and I didn’t fully understand how to balance the urges I felt with the sensibilities about “love” I had learned from television, movies and pop songs. I didn’t think I’d ever have that feeling again, but here I see that all I’d have to do to recapture the sentiment is face Baltimore Orioles prospect Dylan Bundy in the batter’s box.
Dylan Bundy’s breaking pitches literally break you.
On Second Thought
Yes, my dear Robbie Ross, one doesn’t typically attempt to point out opposite field home runs off the bat of Kendry Morales that go back thirty rows into the right field bleachers, but bless your poor, unfortunate heart for your misguided immediate reaction.
I can almost hear the exhaling sound that Ross certainly emits as his left arm begins to fall flaccid to his side, after pointing so hopefully straight into the great beyond.
Giancarlo Stanton Hitting Baseballs In Colorado
This is stupid.
The Brilliance Of Ichiro
According to Chapter 7.08 of Major League Baseball’s official rules:
Any runner is out when –
(a) (1) He runs more than three feet away from his baseline to avoid being tagged unless his action is to avoid interference with a fielder fielding a batted ball. A runners baseline is established when the tag attempt occurs and is a straight line from the runner to the base he is attempting to reach safely.
Not only does Ichiro likely move three feet from the baseline in his attempt to score on the play below, he also curls around home plate, in a fashion that’s definitely wouldn’t be described as a straight line.
Although the rules state no difference at all between bases and home plate, as it pertains to base running, that doesn’t mean that umpires call a game this way. What’s interesting to me is whether or not Ichiro’s awareness of that difference factored into his brain activity as he was dodging the tag, or if he was just thinking solely of avoidance at any cost. Would Ichiro have behaved in the same way that he did at home plate on Monday night as he would’ve at second or third base if a throw there were to have beat him by such a large margin?
I think he would have, and that to me, makes all of his split-second movements even more brilliant. Ichiro is like the Einstein of baseball on this play. He sets a goal, assesses options, considers all the factors and scores a run in a matter of two seconds.
Pat Neshek Plays
Days after his first child inexplicably died less than 24 hours after being born, relief pitcher Pat Neshek entered a baseball game in one of the most moving moments of the entire season.
Romo Vs. Bruce
Game Five of the National League Division Series between the Cincinnati Reds and San Francisco Giants was the greatest baseball game I’ve ever watched. After the San Francisco Giants took what should have been a commanding 6-0 lead after the top of fifth, an inning did not go by in which the Cincinnati Reds didn’t bring the tying run to the plate. This was never more tense than in the bottom of the ninth with Jay Bruce at the plate and Sergio Romo on the mound.
Up by two with one out, and runners on first and second base, Romo and Bruce engaged in the pitcher-hitter battle of the year to determine who would emerge out of the division series to play in the next round of the playoffs. It was baseball at its finest.
Personally, this is best represented like this: