Originally written on Fangraphs  |  Last updated 11/9/14

Hello good friends, and welcome to the first part of whichever edition of this this is. Right here, check out an archive of this whole series! The big story in baseball right now, apparently, is Alex Rodriguez, and what’s about to happen to him. That’s why there are reportedly about 150 media members on hand for his Friday rehab appearance in Trenton. Because A-Rod is finally going to open up and be honest, with the media, and every single one of those media members is going to emerge with a fresh and original take on an enjoyable and novel subject. I can’t wait to read it all! But if you’d like a break from A-Rod, who I guess must be the only thing happening, take a few minutes to watch some really terrible pitches, down below. Or do like anything else, maybe even away from an electronic screen. “It’s bad for your eyes,” I was often advised 20 years ago, before anyone understood science. Here, we’ve got the five wildest pitches since the All-Star break. That covers two weeks, instead of the customary one week, but this series was interrupted in July due to trade coverage, and the possibility of more trade coverage. Starting now we should get back to normal, so look for these to resume every Friday. You know the deal by now. PITCHf/x, pitches far away from the center of the strike zone, and so on and so forth. Screenshots, .gifs, angry people with slow processors who didn’t know better when they clicked. Three pitches that just missed this list: David Purcey to Elliot Johnson on July 26, Hiroki Kuroda to Clayton Kershaw on July 31, and Will Harris to Jeff Francoeur on July 19. “Did Francoeur swing at the pitch?” you ask, jokingly. No, he didn’t, that would be absurd. You exaggerate how bad he is. Now let’s look at some stuff and make jokes and observations. 5 Pitcher: Erik Bedard Batter: Justin Smoak Date: July 20 Location: 60.4 inches from center of zone This was the first pitch of Bedard’s last plate appearance. The following three pitches were also balls, and then Bedard was removed from what was then a no-hitter. And he wasn’t removed at his manager’s insistence — Bedard admitted that he was done and walked off. Some people made jokes, pointing out Bedard’s history of not finishing what he started. Some people called him selfish, and a quitter, and too many people couldn’t understand why Bedard volunteered to leave. “Who leaves a no-hitter?” People who are gassed and honest is who. Bedard was well beyond 100 pitches, his velocity was down, and he has a history of injury. And look at this pitch. Consider all the balls Bedard was throwing by the end. He didn’t have much of anything left. Leaving was the smart move. It was the team-friendly move. It was the opposite of a selfish move. Everybody benefited from Bedard leaving the game at that point. I don’t think Erik Bedard is completely misunderstood, but he’s an athlete who knows his limits, and for that he’s drawn way too much criticism. The guy who threw the pitch above is not a guy who should’ve continued to pitch. I actually happened to watch this pitch live. I watch a lot of pitches live, but there are way more pitches that I don’t, on account of all the baseball and the stuff I have to do, so usually when I’m doing the research for these pieces I look up pitches I never saw before. When I watched this one, I had a sense it would make the list, and that made me a little excited. It made me more excited when I confirmed that it would make the list, earlier today. This is a paragraph about an insignificant personal experience, and I’m not even making an attempt to use it to make a broader point. That’ll show you for reading this article. After the ball hit the backstop, it came back to the catcher on the ground. As such, the catcher never had to leave his position, simply turning around and bending down. Instead of getting the ball from in front of him, he got the ball from in back of him, and he barely had to move his feet. This wasn’t a ball retrieval — this was a ball presenting itself to the catcher, waving off any notion of the catcher needing to exert himself. The lesson being, good things come to those who wait and don’t do anything because they’re lazy. Good things come to the intentionally inactive. Think about that the next time you want to yell at a teenager. For a guy who has a reputation of being kind of a dick, Bedard sure looks nice. That guy right there, that guy looks well-meaning. That guy looks like he’s always willing to lend a hand. Unless you’re asking him to lend a hand after the seventh inning. Lots of people have openly questioned Bedard’s dedication and commitment. They’ve accused him of not really caring, making judgments based on his body language and on his interactions with the media. But then, Bedard’s pitched through injury, and he’s come back from a bunch of surgeries to extend his career, even though he’s had to pitch for pretty lousy teams. Here’s a wild idea: maybe Erik Bedard just really enjoys the act of pitching. Finds it fun. Finds the rest of the job less fun, but pitching is the most important part for a pitcher. The .gif above is a completely gassed Erik Bedard in the seventh inning of an impossible no-hitter, and he just threw a terrible pitch because he’s out of fuel. 4 Pitcher: Drew Storen Batter: Yasiel Puig Date: July 20 Location: 63.7 inches from center of zone Yasiel Puig is kind of on fire again. His OPS is back in the quadruple digits. The last nine games, he’s got 13 hits, six for extra bases. He looks, once more, like he’s almost impossible to get out. But he’s not far removed from his first big-league slump, and this pitch came in the middle of it. From July 4 through July 22, Puig posted a .499 OPS with way too many strikeouts and way too many wild swings. He looked like a guy who’d been adjusted to, and he looked like a guy having trouble adjusting back. Pitchers were taking advantage of his aggressiveness, and everybody had noticed. Because all eyes have been on Puig, everybody saw what was going on. Everybody saw Puig getting himself out. After this pitch, the Dodgers broadcast unironically remarked, “good take by Puig.” That’s how things were, for a short time. Three people eating. Three other people with hands on or by their faces. All people looking at least vaguely disinterested. One batter almost getting murdered. You never know when you might witness a man’s death, so you might try always looking more “in the moment,” just in case. Because how bad would that look otherwise? You’re so uncaring! The person with the baseball in this image is the third baseman. That’s how far the baseball ricocheted off the bricks behind home plate. On the wild pitch, the baserunner advanced from first to second. A clever idea would be to try this again, throwing another wild pitch off the bricks behind home plate. The baserunner could take off, and the ball could conceivably bounce right to third base! Voila, incredible trick-play out! That would make all the highlight shows! Alternatively, it might not work, and then you’d have another ball in the count and a runner on third. But I mean like what are the odds of that Add this to the list of ways pitchers react to really awful wild pitches. Sometimes they look at their fingers, sometimes they look at their feet, sometimes they patch up the mound, sometimes they look down, sometimes they shout in frustration. Storen’s reaction is a variation on the first, but it goes beyond that. Storen really wanted everybody to know that it wasn’t his fault, it was his hand’s fault. He exaggeratedly wiped sweat off his hand for several seconds just to make sure everybody saw him doing it. It’s the opposite of playing it cool and bouncing right back. If you trip on some bricks, one response is to immediately regain your footing and pretend like nothing happened. Another response is to look at the bricks and spend a little while trying to push them all down so they’re flat. “No, it wasn’t my fault, you guys,” you convey to strangers around you. “It was these uneven bricks. I’m not a complete idiot who can’t walk.” 3 Pitcher: Tony Cingrani Batter: Andres Torres Date: July 23 Location: 65.2 inches from center of zone What people like to say about Tony Cingrani is that he only has one pitch. He has a fastball, and that’s it, and for that reason people have tried to justify their prospect skepticism. They’ve tried to argue he wouldn’t be able to carry his minor-league success into the bigs. “How long will Cingrani be able to fool people as a starter with one pitch?” they ask. It’s all a lie, it’s all inaccurate crap. Tony Cingrani doesn’t have one pitch. Tony Cingrani has one good pitch. It’s this week’s edition of Find The Baseball! If you find the baseball, tweet at Dave Cameron that you successfully found the baseball. Continue to do that until he acknowledges you, personally. Insist on congratulations. Hint: the baseball is above the dirt poof and it looks like chalk in the batter’s box. You found the baseball! It’s probably really hard to step out of the box and maintain the illusion that you need to figure out a way to hit one of the world’s best pitchers when the pitch right before was really terrible. I imagine it has a glass-shattering effect, and it might even benefit the pitcher, because the hitter might start to think the pitcher really sucks. At this point, Torres might not have thought anymore that he needed to take Cingrani seriously. Watch out for the fastball, Andres! Yeah go get it you little turd 2 Pitcher: Bobby Parnell Batter: Kevin Frandsen Date: July 20 Location: 69.0 inches from center of zone Parnell: /sighs Parnell: /throws pitch Pitch: /sucks Parnell: /turns Parnell: There. Parnell: There, I did it. Parnell: I did exactly what you asked. Parnell: Are you happy now, man in the right-field bleachers? Man in the right-field bleachers: Man in the right-field bleachers: Parnell: Man in the right-field bleachers: Man in the right-field bleachers: I’m sorry, what? Parnell: Man in the right-field bleachers: You’ll have to speak up. Man in the right-field bleachers: You are very far away. This pitch bounced right around what people refer to as the lip of the grass. That’s extraordinarily unusual, but what’s also unusual is the notion of saying that grass has lips. Does grass also have other human body parts? What do they look like? Have baseballs ever hit them? At what point did we decide to anthropomorphize a lawn? People care about baseball fields a little too much. Based on this image the Mets and Phillies were playing a baseball game in front of the world’s most littlest umpire. And because the umpire is so little, and because baseball players are so big, the umpire likes to make a game of trying to hide behind the relative beasts before him. Some short people detest short jokes but this umpire owns it. “I bet you can’t see me!” “Well we all can but we appreciate your sense of humor.” When wild pitches sail to the backstop, a lot of the time you see fans duck out of the way, as if there isn’t a protective netting. It looks silly, but it’s also understandable, because that’s just instinct and people aren’t accustomed to there being synthetic force-fields protecting them from dangerous projectiles. Here, the ball bounced to the backstop, a lot slower, and it got a lot of air. Several fans reached up, as if they’d have an opportunity to catch the ball on its way down. This was less about instinct and more about just forgetting that there’s a net there specifically so people don’t encounter wildly-pitched baseballs and terrifying foul-tips. All of those people are idiots. This happened immediately prior to the wild pitch. The catcher slowly lowered his head, dejected. He knew what was going to happen. He knew Parnell was going to bounce a curve off the grass. Parnell always follows time-outs by bouncing curves off the grass. 1 Pitcher: Garrett Richards Batter: Coco Crisp Date: July 27 Location: 79.4 inches from center of zone Immediately, Richards sulks, like a pitcher who hates himself and just wants to curl up alone on a sofa. The catcher watches the ball sail by and casually asks for a new one, like this is just part of the job these days. The umpire looks at the catcher as if to ask why he called that pitch, or if this is really how bad things have gotten for the Angels. Crisp gives two invisible high-fives to two different and invisible people on the Angels melting down and the A’s being able to take advantage. If you can’t find the baseball, it’s over by the Fox Sports logo oval. That’s a pitch that somebody threw. A good promotion for Fox Sports would be to collect baseball highlight videos and then replace all the baseballs with Fox Sports logo ovals. Like, here’s Aroldis Chapman throwing a Fox Sports logo oval 101 miles per hour right by a dude. Here’s Chris Davis mashing a Fox Sports logo oval for a dinger. It would combine the two things that Fox Sports hopes the viewers love: baseball and Fox Sports. The promotion probably wouldn’t use a highlight video of this particular pitch. The best part is the catcher flashing his glove, as if to indicate “right here, right in this spot.” Of course, the catcher is usually indicating where he wants a pitch to go. Of course, this pitch was dreadfully wild. But as Richards was in his delivery, the catcher drove the point home: “I want the pitch here, over the inner half of the plate, down at the knees.” Like it was something he and Richards had discussed previously. Presuming the catcher doesn’t always do this for every pitch, this pitch was special. This pitch especially was supposed to hit its spot. It missed by more than Garrett Richards’ entire upright body. Presenting the saddest known image of Garrett Richards, in which other participants can’t even bear to look at him.

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