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March 5, 2014

Pebble Hunting

The Best GIFs of the 2014 Baseball Season

by Sam Miller


AL West

Athletics
stankylegg.gif
October 26, just after final out, vs. Los Angeles Dodgers.
Frames 1 to 19: Seen from camera behind home plate, pitch from Jim Johnson strikes out Los Angeles batter; Derek Norris leaps up, bear hugs Johnson, Oakland players race toward mound, celebration, Billy Beane has finally won the World Series.
Frames 20 to 167: Alone, in center field, out of focus and unnoticed, on the edge of the frame, Coco Crisp does the Chicken Head, the Dutty Wine, the Kick Step, the Booty Bounce, the Harlem Shake, Swag Surfing, the Heel Toe, the Peppa Seed, the Humpty Dance, the Stanky Legg, the Rockaway, the Snap Dance, and Chicken Noodle Soup.
Frames 168 to 184: Beane appears at the bottom of the frame, doing a very poor Worm.

Angels
bug.gif
September 28, 7th inning vs. Seattle Mariners.
Frames 1 to 9: Scoreboard shows out-of-town scoreboard; Oakland defeats Texas, clinching division.
Frames 10 to 220: Scioscia Face, identical to millions of other extended Scioscia faces: Exasperation directed at outside force that once again thwarts his perfect plan for success. Brow contracts. Eyes tighten. Mouth, caught between protest and pout. He’ll probably get fired, this time for sure, not because his team wasn’t successful, didn’t outperform local expectations, didn’t improve by 10 games, didn’t finish ahead of Texas, didn’t win nine of 12 down the stretch (including this game against Seattle, in the bag but academic now) but because Oakland won 12 of 12 down the stretch. Going to get fired because a bunch of nobodies in Oakland got hot like always. So unfair.
Frames 221 to 232: A ladybug crawls out of his nose and into his ear.

Rangers
joketoofar.gif
Aug. 27, second inning, vs. Seattle Mariners
Frames 1 to 6: Adrian Beltre gets high fives in the dugout after a sterling inning-ending defensive play.
Frames 7 to 15: Mischievous Elvis Andrus rubs his head, laughing.
Frames 16 to 22: Beltre smashes Andrus’ head with a bat, putting him in a coma for weeks, probably ending his career, yet another joke that went one step too far :(

Mariners
cut4.gif
Aug. 27, second inning, vs. Texas Rangers
Frames 1 to 165: Having been traded mid-game to the Rangers after a sudden coma-related injury to Elvis Andrus, Nick Franklin takes off his Mariners jersey, turns it inside out, revealing that it’s a Rangers jersey on the other side, puts it back on, then jogs over to join his new teammates. Turns out all the uniforms do that, for just this situation. Who knew!

Astros
eagle.gif
April 20, sixth inning, vs. Oakland Athletics
Frames 1 to 12: Camera lingers on tight shot of outfield scoreboard, where tally reads 14 runs for Oakland, 0 for hitless Houston Astros.
Frames 13 to 35: Camera slowly pulls back and retreats to infield, and Houston Astros players begin to populate the frame. We imagine they are pondering the new depths to which they seem to have sunk in misery. Thirteen losses to start the season, 28 in a row since last year.
Frames 36 to 52: Jose Altuve, the team’s best player, hitless today but batting .420 on the season, is now in the frame as the camera continues pulling back to capture the scene.
Frames 52 to 54: A Golden Eagle swoops in, picks Altuve up by the neck, carries him away.

AL Central

Tigers

suckerMC.gif
July 15, All-Star game, in Minnesota
Two gifs
1.
Frames 1 to 18: Miguel Cabrera sucking on a lollipop at first base like a big old kid.

2.
Frames 1 to 24: Shot of Cabrera from right-field camera. Half-eaten lollipop is stuck to his bottom.

Indians
old.gif
May 30th, sixth inning, vs. Colorado Rockies.
Frames 1 to 84: It’s just this, but now he’ll be one year older so it’ll be funnier.

White Sox
thermos.gif
June 8, third inning, vs. Los Angeles Angels
Frames 1 to 18: Robin Ventura eats soup from a Thermos.

Royals, Twins
unexplainedfuturehorseracememe.gif
August 26th, fifth inning, between the top of the bottom of the inning, in Kansas City.
Frames 1 to 64: Eric Hosmer rides Alcides Escobar like a pony at full gallop on the infield dirt, while Pedro Florimon rides Josh Willingham like a pony at full gallop in the outfield, for reasons that make absolutely no sense to us right now but will presumably be clear to us by the time this happens.

AL East

Rays
Molina1.gif
June 18, eighth inning, vs. Boston Red Sox
Frames 1 to 6: Matt Moore throws a fastball to David Ortiz, low and a little outside.
Frames 7 to 13: Ortiz reaches for it and pokes line drive over shortstop.
Frames 14 to 18: Jose Molina sells it, though, and umpire Angel Hernandez calls strike three looking. This Week In Catcher Framing.

Red Sox
Molina2.gif
June 19, second inning, vs. Tampa Bay Rays
Frames 1 to 6: Jeremy Hellickson throws a fastball to David Ortiz, low and a little outside.
Frames 7 to 13: Ortiz takes the pitch.
Frames 14 to 18: Jose Molina sells it, but umpire Dana DeMuth doesn’t buy. Ball two.
Frames 19 to 24: Molina appeals to third-base umpire Angel Hernandez...
Frames 25 to 34: ...who rules that, yes, Ortiz did swing. This Week In Catcher Check-Swing Framing.

Blue Jays
beans.gif
May 22, sixth inning, vs. Boston Red Sox
Frames 1 to 8: R.A. Dickey throws a wobbly knuckleball to Shane Victorino, who takes a big swing at it. At the last second, it wobbles sharply toward Victorino’s midsection, deflecting off his beans into catcher Dioner Navarro’s midsection, colliding powerfully with his beans as well. Both players, right in the beans.
Frames 9 to 11: Both players, having been beansed, collapse.
Frames 12 to 30: Everybody laughs.
Frames 31 to 32: Lightning strikes everybody in the beans, baseball is cancelled.

Yankees
bush.gif
September 25, ninth inning, vs. Baltimore Orioles
Frames 1 to 8: In his final inning at Yankee Stadium, Derek Jeter squares up a Josh Stinton fastball and hammers one final home run out.
Frames 9 to 81: Smiles, begins slow jog toward first. He’s going to enjoy this one. How many times has he taken this jog, this slow amble around the bases? Two hundred and sixty eight times in the regular season, another 20 in the postseason. Couple dozen in spring training, once in the All-Star game, 16 in the minors, home runs in high school, in Little League, around his backyard in Kalamazoo, where extra gloves stood in for bases and every imagined home run was a walk-off in Game 7 of the World Series. And now this, the last time. He passes first base and shakes Chris Davis’ hand.
Frames 82 to 239: Mariano Rivera, Jorge Posada, and Andy Pettitte are on the field now, jogging behind him. He sees them coming, stops to hug each one, and for the first time lets himself look up at the crowd. He sees children on their dad’s shoulders, he sees old married couples hugging each other tight, he sees the cop who sits on a stool by the stands crying without shame. It’s neither a time to be happy nor sad, but a time to feel, to really feel, to attach yourself to the emotions of those around you and understand what it means to be human, to know life and death and to see them occur so close to each other that they nearly overlap. He passes second back and shakes pats Jonathan Schoop’s behind, then accepts J.J. Hardy’s handshake.
Frames 240 to 337: Joe Torre has taken over the third base coach’s box, and as Jeter sees him he can’t help but break down and cry. There is nothing more freeing than to share all your secrets with a man who can be trusted to protect them forever, and that’s what Torre was: A man who would take all the pressure off you, then give you just enough back so that your life would have meaning. He knew how much pressure to put on Jeter; one gram less and Jeter would have always felt unfulfilled, one gram more and he might have cracked. But Torre knew just how much. Jeter was, he knew, merely the medium by which Joe Torre’s genius emerged.
Frames 338 to 440: They stop and hug, crying and crying, crying and crying, then Torre pats him on the behind and steers him toward home.
Frames 441 to 527: His entire team waiting for him around home plate. So this would be it. His final trip home. The whole point: To run home. He had done it, as he had been told, as he had always wished, as those around him needed him to, and now they needed him no more, he wished for no more, and he would be told no more. He would be free, his own man, existing totally outside the lines that dictate what baseball men can do, and the freedom, he knew, would cripple him. He was a young man still, relatively speaking. A half century or more ahead of him, if things went right. And while the idea terrified him, he knew that he would do fine. He knew that he wasn’t just Derek Jeter on the baseball field. He would be Derek Jeter anywhere he went. Three steps, two steps, one step…
Frames 528 to 545: ...and then Brian McCann steps in front of the plate to block Jeter’s path. “That’s a bunch of horseshit, you need to run!” McCann yells, and the benches clear.

Orioles
arm.gif
June 11, fifth inning, vs. Boston Red Sox
Frames 1 to 22: While announcers talk about Johan Santana’s unlikely comeback, the camera focuses on Santana sitting on the Orioles bench for his first game in an Orioles uniform. He sits calmly, watching the game, motionless, doing nothing.
Frames 23 to 25: Suddenly, his arm falls off.
Frames 26 to 29: And rolls under the dugout bench
Frames 30 to 54: Santana gets down on his knees to retrieve it.
Frames 55 to 67: Says something to nearby teammate, which Evan Brunell later deciphers to be “Well that’s never happened before.” (Italics Evan’s.)

NL East

Marlins
MilkshakeYard.gif
September 21, ninth inning, vs. Washington Nationals
Frames 1 to 7: On a 2-0 count, Stephen Strasburg throws a 98 mph fastball that tails over the middle of the plate, belt high.
Frames 8 to 10: Giancarlo Stanton lets loose with a massive swing and connects squarely; it’s a massive fly ball to left field.
Frames 11 to 16: Stanton watches the ball’s path and staggers back a step, stunned perhaps by the trajectory and speed of the ball disappearing into the night or shaken by the force of contact that just occurred 30 or so inches away from him.
Frames 17 to 26: The ball carries deep, deeper, over everybody, until finally thudding into a sign for Johnny Rockets, the text of which reads:

HIT IT HERE!!!
And everybody in the park
will get one free milkshake
at Johnny Rockets,
paid for by your friends
the Miami Marlins!

Nationals
HarperGlasses.gif
June 3, first inning, vs. Philadelphia Phillies
Frames 1 to 55: Bryce Harper takes the field wearing large, prescription grandpa glasses. It is clear that he is having a hard time seeing anything in focus, but, admittedly, looks pretty stupid in a way young people think is cool. gif captures him trying to catch warmup throw, stabbing two feet to the left of it. Dude’s so with it.

Braves
UgglaDick.gif
Date: June 20, first inning, vs. Washington Nationals
(Set-up: B.J. and Justin Upton, each having an MVP-worth start to the season, have just hit back-to-back home runs and are back in the dugout.)
Frames 1 to 148: The Upton brothers perform their now-famous home run shake, a 23-part choreography that Atlantan teenagers have been trying to mimic but that, no matter how hard one studies the tape, can never seem to be accurately observed. It’s as though every time you watch it something changes—not that each time they do it it changes, but that each time you watch it, on DVR or a gif, it changes. Hey, that move where they both jump up and give each other ten with their feet, that wasn’t there last time, was it? And the first time you watched it you’re sure they said “Big Cheer For You Bro” in American Sign Language, but now you’ve rewound and watched again and this time they’re saying “Let’s Raise Hell Tonight!” in Huay Hai Sign Language. And now wait a minute, there’s just no way that Pharrell was there the first time, serenading them with Hypnotize U. This shake is really something!
Frames 149 to 152: Dan Uggla stands in the background with his dick hanging out of his zipper flap.

Mets
bigsoup.gif
Aug. 20th, third inning, vs. Oakland A’s.
Frames 1 to 18: Bartolo Colon blows on something he has spooned from a Thermos, most likely soup.

Phillies
ErrbodyDives.gif
September 23, first inning, vs. Miami Marlins
Frames 1 to 9: Phillies leadoff hitter Jimmy Rollins awaits the first pitch of the game from Jose Fernandez.
Frames 10 to 21: Fernandez winds and delivers.
Frames 22 to 31: Rollins dives away from the pitch; Fernandez, after throwing, holds his glove up to his face and cowers; Marlins catcher Jeff Mathis sticks his glove out helplessly while bailing out of the catcher’s box; and umpire Bob Davidson sprints out of the way to his left. (The mound is only 46 feet away from the plate, as the Marlins fled Miami in the cover of night two days earlier to avoid paying for hundreds of milkshakes, and the only place they could book on such short notice was a decommissioned Little League field in Jenks, Oklahoma.)

NL Central

Cardinals, Reds
MolinaFreshmaker.gif
March 31, in Cincinnati, first inning.
Frames 1 to 24: Billy Hamilton, having reached on an infield hit in his first at-bat of the year, stretches his lead, while Adam Wainwright peeks over his shoulder and tries to freeze the runner. There will be no freezing Hamilton this year, though, and on the first pitch Wainwright throws Hamilton is off on a spring.
Frames 25 to 36: The pitch is a fastball up and away, a good one on which to throw, but Yadier Molina’s toss down to second is nowhere close to in time to get Hamilton, who beats it by a good half second. SAFE! the umpires calls.
Frames 37 to 42: Hamilton motions for time; umpire grants.
Frames 43 to 61: Hamilton steps off the base and dusts himself off. Jhonny Peralta casually places his glove, with the ball, on Hamilton. YOU’RE OUT! the umpire calls.
Frames 62 to 66: Hamilton is befuddled. Time had been granted.
Frames 77 to 81: Umpire lifts his mask. It’s Yadier Molina.
Frames 82 to 96: Hamilton is befuddled. You are the catcher.
Frames 97 to 101: Catcher lifts his mask. It’s second-base ump Gary Darling!
Frames 102 to 109: Darling tips his cap to Molina,
Frames 110 to 119: Molina shows him his package of Mentos, one eaten.

Pittsburgh Pirates
RangiestOutfield.gif
Sept. 12, third inning, vs. Chicago Cubs
Frames 1 to 9: Anthony Rizzo hits a fly ball deep into right field.
Frames 10 to 24: Gregory Polanco pursues it, closes in on it, and just catches up to it, but it bounces off his glove,
Frames 25 to 39: but Andrew McCutchen is there, too, and he gets to the deflection just in time to get a glove on it, but it pop out of his glove, too,
Frames 40 to 53: but Starling Marte is there, too, and he catches it.

Brewers
huh.gif
May 6, fourth inning, vs. Arizona Diamondbacks
Frames 1 to 8: Mark Trumbo hits deep fly to right center, apparent home run.
Frames 9 to 28: Carlos Gomez chases, times leap, makes amazing catch to rob home run, topples over wall out of sight.
Frames 28 to 67: Nothing, as Gomez stays unseen.
Frames 68 to 134: Brewers teammates, coaches, trainer sprint to the spot to see if he is okay. They look over the wall: He’s not there! What has happened?
Frames 135 to 175: Camera zooms in on concerned, quizzical looks of the assembled Brewers, who include
Frames 176: Carlos Gomez! Standing among them! How did he do that? The Prestige!

Cubs
bored.gif
September 1, eighth inning, vs. Milwaukee Brewers
Frames 1 to 8: Starlin Castro stares boredly at home plate.
Frames 9 to 10: Seagull lands on Castro’s head.
Frames 11 to 70: Seagull and Starlin Castro stare boredly at home plate.
Frames 71 to 72: Seagull flies away.
Frames 73 to 82: Starlin Castro stares boredly at home plate.

NL West

Dodgers, Diamondbacks
RedRover.gif
Aug. 27, fifth inning, in Arizona.
Frames 1 to 14: Eighth or ninth brawl of the year between these two teams turns into awesome game of Red Rover; gif captures Yasiel Puig busting through Tony Campana and Eury de la Rosa’s blockade like a white van plowing into Joe Black.

San Francisco Giants
PenceMo.gif
(Multiple dates/opponents)
Frames 1 to 66: It’s one of those fancy gif overlays, except it’s just 24 overlays of X-Mo profile shots of Hunter Pence swinging and no two of them look remotely similar: Bat replaced with a human arm in one, Exorcist head spin in another, one with his teeth falling out like a slot machine spitting out nickels, or him facing the wrong way, or a shrunken head, a Nixon mask, a boa constrictor squeezing his neck, his feet are hooves, a running start, levitation, arms and legs have been switched, half-buried in quicksand, elbows bend outward instead of inward, his entire body inside out, there are twins of him, and, in one, relatively normal.

San Diego Padres/Colorado Rockies
GIF.gif
July 7, eighth inning, in San Diego.
Frames 1 to 28: Just some guys are playing baseball and then something sort of unusual happens.

Sam Miller is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Sam's other articles. You can contact Sam by clicking here

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