As far as pitching appearances by non-pitchers go, Wednesday night's effort from Wilson Valdez was a remarkable one. The Reds and Phillies took proceedings to the 19th inning, and in such contests it isn't terribly unusual to see a team trot out a player who isn't a pitcher by trade.
Valdez, though, pitched a scoreless 19th for the Phillies and picked up the win. The 33-year-old utility infielder became only the third non-pitcher in the last 100 years (High Pockets Kelly in 1917, Brent Mayne in 2000) to make only one pitching appearance and walk away with a win. So, yes, it's pretty weird, but I don't know if it's laugh-out-loud funny. Which brings us to this question:
What is the funniest pitching appearance ever made by a non-pitcher?
I don't know the answer yet, which is why I'm asking you, but I would like to submit the recent example of Paul Janish for consideration.
Preface: on May 6th, 2009, the Reds' Bronson Arroyo suffered an an absolutely God-awful start; by the time he left the mound with nobody out in the second inning, he had surrendered nine earned runs to the Brewers. The Cincinnati bullpen managed to keep things respectable until the ninth, when Dusty Baker gave the ball to shortstop Paul Janish. The poor fellow managed to get through the inning, but only after being lit up for five runs on five hits.
With this in mind, can we agree that sending Janish to the mound ever again would be an explicit, if nonverbal, expression of capitulation? On July 6th of the same year, Baker's Reds were down 16-1 to the Phillies in the eighth inning. Simply declaring a forfeit, while perhaps tempting, would certainly have been unbecoming, so Baker simply trotted out his white flag in the form of one Paul Janish.
Janish surprised absolutely nobody by giving up six runs, and the Reds lost, 22-1. It's not his ineptitude I find funny -- sending a non-pitcher out to pitch is like asking your dentist to unclog your toilet, so the results were entirely expected -- but the signal sent. "Quitting would be rude, so we're just going to give up."
Mr. Janish, meanwhile, had to bear the weight of his teammates' sins. I can't imagine it was any fun, and I imagine that if he were to provide a statement detailing everything he knew about pitching, it would have looked something like this:
EVERYTHING I KNOW ABOUT PITCHING
by Paul Janish
- The catcher makes a lot of hand signals. One finger means "pitch a baseball." Two fingers also mean "pitch a baseball." There are probably other signals that mean "pitch a basketball" or "pitch a football," but I haven't seen those yet, and I doubt anyone ever uses them anyway.
- To throw a curveball, just put the ball in your hand, shake it around a bunch, and then throw it real quick while you're still shaking it. It seems like it would work.
- If you throw a pitch, and the batter doesn't swing, and the umpire doesn't do or say anything, it means they're all really disappointed in you. If this happens four times, the batter just starts walking to first, and the umpire doesn't do anything about it because he just doesn't care anymore because he can't stand how horrible you are.
- Never stop feeling bad. They are making you pitch because you are the worst person.
As I said, Janish's example is simply a recent one within arm's reach. Help me find more "non-pitcher pitching" comedy, will you? Baseball-Reference's list of non-pitchers who have pitched is very helpful in this regard. If you'd like to nominate a particular instance/individual, leave a comment here, or tweet me at @jon_bois. I'll come back around this afternoon to sift through your answers.
The answer is out there somewhere, and you and I will find it.