The Wednesday With All The Highlights
Was the content quality extremely high?
A reader named William emailed me Thursday: “Is it just me, or were yesterday's slate of games absolutely rich with highlights? I was looking at r/baseball this morning and the content quality was extremely high.”
I’ll be the judge of that. William provided a list of highlights he was referring to. I’ve thrown out a couple of obvious list-padders, and I’ve added one. How good an episode of Baseball was it?
10. Mike Trout homers to beat the Cards in the ninth (link)
His swing didn’t immediately register as a home run swing; he was reaching for the pitch—the sort of swing that often produces end-of-the-bat contact—and finished with a very short follow-through. So there is a moment when nobody knows:
and then there is a moment when only Trout knows
and then a moment when only Trout and the catcher and one fan with an inkling know
and, finally, the moment that a bunch of people start to figure this out.
Good highlight? This was a pretty good highlight. I’d pay $2.85 for it.
9. Billy Hamilton scores from second on an infield single (link)
Hamilton has scored from second on passed balls, sacrifice flies, infield singles and fielder’s choices in his career, so you can put this one up on the Superfast Billy Hamilton pinboard. It’s not his best run, it wasn’t interrupted, there was no play at the plate—and yet, for those of us who remember that period from 2012-2013 when Billy Hamilton was the best GIF in sports, we will never not perk up when we hear “Billy Hamilton has entered the game as a pinch-runner.” Finding out that a new Billy Hamilton video just dropped, in 2023, is a little bit like finding out that Clap Your Hands Say Yeah is playing at the fair. I don’t expect you to be excited about it, but you can’t expect me not to be excited about it.
Good highlight? This is a marginal highlight. I’d pay $1.05 for it.
8. Shohei Ohtani strikes out 13 batters in five innings; also has three hits (link)
This will probably be remembered as the shoelaces game—he had to tie his shoes—but Ohtani also matched a career high in strikeouts, and matched the most strikeouts by any pitcher this year, even though he pitched only five innings. I’ve given up hope anybody is going to strike out 21 batters in a start, so for now I’m reduced to celebrating 21-K paces. That’s 2.33 Ks per inning. In history, only 33 pitchers have had a start of at least five innings and at least 2 1/3 Ks per inning. Ohtani is now one of them. Only three have ever struck out more than 2 ½ per inning. Ohtani is now one of them. Alas, he only made it through five innings because he also allowed six baserunners and four runs. But what’s more impressive, pitching five innings and striking out 13 or pitching eight innings and striking out 13? I think you could answer that question either way and consider your answer obvious.
Good highlight? This was a very good highlight. I’d pay $3.80 for it.
7. Max Muncy hit a walk-off grand slam (link)
The grand slam was overkill—any fly to the outfield would have won the game. Still, “walk-off grand slam” is self-explanatory.
Fan 1: “Wanna see the major league leader in home runs hit a walk-off grand slam?” Fan 2: “No, I only like interesting highlights.”
That would be obvious nonsense.
I really like this trot shot:
Good highlight? This was a useful highlight. I’d pay 65 cents for it.
6. Juan Soto, baserunning gaffe (link)
A simple error, mistaking a ball that hadn’t been caught for one that had been caught, but a hoot to see how long Soto commits to it.
He doesn’t get halfway back to first base, slap his forehead and concede that he’s made an out. He runs hard all the way, right past the guy holding the ball, right at his teammates shooing him away, everybody looking at him like he left a cat carrier on top of his car.
But what really makes this highlight essential is that it’s what we in the newspaper business called “a talker.” Xander Bogaerts, who hit the ball, had a 30-game on-base streak (to start his Padres career!). So, with this play, did he extend it or did he not extend it? The official ruling is that he did not extend it, because this went down as a fielder’s choice, because Soto was forced out without reaching second base safely. But Soto did reach second base safely. The ball hit the ground, Soto ran 10 feet past second base, all while Bogaerts had safely reached first—that should justly be called a hit, right? Sure, Soto ended up getting misled by his senses, raced back to first base and got “forced out” at second. But couldn’t we say that he was out trying to advance to third base extremely inaccurately? If we say it that way, Bogaerts would get his hit and the on-base streak would still be alive.
Good highlight? Very good highlight. I’d pay $8 for it.
Keep reading with a 7-day free trial