Over at MLB.com, there's a list of the plays nominated for the "Best Play" GIBBY. I'll save you some time: robbed home run, robbed home run, diving catch, and more robbed home runs. Look, I'm a sucker for the robbed home run, too, but they're not the last word on great plays.
Give me a catcher doing catcher things instead of a robbed home run. At least, most of the time. The Trout catch is still one of the best things ever, but most of the time I'd prefer a blocked plate to a well-timed leap. Here are the best catcher GIFs I put together over 2012 -- if you know of something else that would fit, please put it in the comments. This is going to be an incomplete compendium, almost by definition.
5. The masked amateur
I have no idea who this is, and if he plays for Stanford or North Connecticut State Tech. But, whoa, that play. The pitcher making the barehand grab might be the best part, so this might not qualify. But, really, I'm including this because a) it involves a catcher, and b) I want to croudsource what in the heck the catcher is doing. Is he flipping it? It looks like he's flipping it to the pitcher on purpose. But why would he do that? If he had time to flip it, he had time to open his glove.
If he's not flipping it, though, is he swinging the glove up at the last second to stab at the ball? Probably. But that's weird. I guess a catcher will do a lot of things when he's hanging in the air, parallel to the ground. Probably shouldn't judge, especially since it was such a great play.
4. Jose Molina commits geronticide
This ended the game for the Rays. It would have been the sixth earned run of the year for Fernando Rodney, which would have turned his season into a total disappointment, and it would have tied the game for the Jays. And it was a heckuva throw from B.J. Upton. But Jose Molina's positioning and strength is what makes it an out. He crumples in pain, but the game was over, the win preserved.
Seriously, though, what was Omar Vizquel doing? Trying for the outside of the plate, thinking Molina was going to move up to catch the ball? If so … well, that didn't work out.
3. Salvador Perez, young catcher of note
The timing is what gets me on this one. Perez doesn't stick his leg out until the very last second, after the runner has already committed to a standard slide. It's unbelievably elegant, with simply perfect form. The best part is that Perez didn't stand in front of the plate, waiting to take a hit from a linebacker. This is how plays at the plate are supposed to be.
2. Stryker: You're coming in too fast
But, well, I guess there are some ways to make home-plate collisions seem cool. Stryker Trahan was a first-round pick by the Diamondbacks, and the 18-year-old had a .422 on-base percentage in his first year in the minors. You'll probably see him in the majors one of these years. He's also something of a physical specimen, as another unfortunate teenager found out.
Rookie League is for learning, and I'd gather the young runner learned something that he can apply to future contests. The collision isn't what makes the GIF for me here, though. It's the spit and the crawl after the collision. The only way it could have been better is if there were another second of crawling.
1. The perfect throw
GIFs aren't all about people getting hurt and crumpling to the ground in pain. That's, like, 90 percent of it, tops. Sometimes, they're perfect for looping the perfect play over and over and over again. And this throw from Yadier Molina is perfect. I can't stop watching it. The mechanics, the quick release, the accuracy, the power … It's hypnotizing.
There's nothing funny about it, no stupid jokes. Just a throw by the best defensive catcher in baseball that shows why he's the best defensive catcher in baseball. It's the kind of throw that makes you annoyed it's December without a baseball game in sight.