If you've followed Baseball Nation for a while, you've probably noticed that we like to spice up our articles with GIFs. The GIF format is a relic, something that was around in the days of Compuserve and AOL, but it's made a comeback over the past few years, especially in the baseball-loving corner of the Internet. When you get used to the format, you understand why. They let you do a Jim Garrison, studying every frame of a video, back and to the left, back and to the left, soaking up the nuances of a specially selected video snippet.
Sometimes the highlight is an otherworldly catch, with the fielder splayed out as his back slams into the fence. Sometimes the highlight is a baseball to the ol' rosin bag. Whatever the highlight is, the GIF shows it over and over again, letting you appreciate it at your own pace until you're sick of it.
I can't tell you what the best GIFs are. For one, Jon Bois does a much better job of GIF curation than I do, and he'll attempt to discern the best sports GIF of 2012. If I had to pick two of my favorite GIFs, they would be ones that I didn't make -- Mike Trout making one of the most incredible catches I've ever seen, or Munenori Kawasaki establishing dominance over Casper Wells.
But over the last year, I made hundreds of GIFs. So, so many hours were spent in Photoshop, excising frames and trying to figure out how to keep the file sizes manageable. Most of the GIFs involved Ryan Theriot making a funny face. But there were others that had some broader appeal.This is my attempt to collect my personal favorites from my own stash over the last year, broken down into several different categories of four or five GIFs each.
The first category: Baseballs aren't supposed to do that.
BASEBALLS AREN'T SUPPOSED TO DO THAT
It's a good category. Mostly because baseballs aren't supposed to do this.
4. David Ross don't give a damn about space-time
A lot of these GIFs will be metaphors for a game, a season, or even a career. Here is the 2012 Rockies, then:
"I got it, I got it, I got … wait, never mind, God hates us. I'm going home to sit in the tub for a bit. Whatever."
If you're more of a secular sort, you can switch that to "physics hates us." Because what was that? David Ross hit a double that counted against Dexter Fowler's UZR. Which is totally fair. I love watching this one over and over, just to see the switch from "I've got it!" to "Dammit, hold on a second" in Fowler's path to the ball.
3. Shhhhh, you'll be safe here, baseball. Shhhhhhh, just keep quiet and stay warm.
If there's any player in the history of the game I'd believe could do that on purpose, it would be Ichiro. Step 1, hit it off the ground. Step 2, get it down his shirt. Step 3, scamper like a little chipmunk. Step 4, shame Jarrod Parker into subservience. But the odds are -- hear me out -- this is probably a fluke that happened to involve Ichiro.
I feel comfortable suggesting that over the next 50 years, during which there should be over 800,000 major-league games played, that you won't see that again. It's the perfect combination of perfect reflex, perfect location, perfect timing, and a pitcher who doesn't like to button all the way up to the top when he's on the mound. Freaky.
2. Joe Mauer plays baseball with the confidence of a man not worried about his dandruff
My favorite part of this GIF was the crowd that told me they had no idea what the point of it was, as if it were a latter-day selective-attention test. It's just Joe Mauer doing some Harlem Globetrotters nonsense, no big deal. Watch it 18 times, appreciating that it happened and that Joe Mauer exists.
Imagine a game where the whole object was to put Minnesota Fats-like spin on a baseball thrown at 91 miles per hour. This would be The Catch, Carlton Fisk waving the ball fair, and Babe Ruth calling his shot rolled into one. This would have been the greatest play in the history of the sport. Look at that spin, boy, look at that spin.
Instead, it was just a creepy play. There's an excellent chance, though, that it wouldn't have been noticed if Brian Dozier were called out. Instead, he uses the bastard physics to beat the play out. Just a stunning reminder that baseball does what it wants, whenever it wants.
Coming soon: 14 more of these by the end of Friday! Maybe Saturday. Okay, Monday's a possibility. You'll see kids, overly excited fans, and all the Tropicana Field GIFs you can handle. And, maybe, just maybe, a guy getting hit in the beans with a baseball!