Remember sportswriting before the Internet allowed writers to use images as a crutch? I don't. It must have been awful, using words to describe things, honing your craft to put your reader in the moment.
I can't use words to paint a picture that sublime. I've tried. Thank goodness for pictures and GIFs.
This is the first entry in a collection of the favorite GIFs and images I made in 2013. The only rule of eligibility is that I had to make the GIF or image myself in 2013, just because that makes it easier to curate. At least, I think I made them all. I don't even know anymore.
The made-in-2013 criteria means there are going to be some GIFs included that are based on old videos. Like this one of Mike Hargrove dancing in a museum.
I don't know, either.
Let's kick off the best-of with the most boring category: GIFs that are cool because of baseball-related things, not because someone else is in pain or was humiliated. I know, I know. Booorrrring.
Maybe the best catch I've ever seen? Question mark added for possible hyperbole, but it's been a few months, and it's at the top of a short list. It's a hypothetical short list that doesn't actually exist, but this Revere catch is on it. Look where his leap starts, and then remember that his entire body is on the warning track by the end.
For the most part, brilliant defensive plays work better as videos -- you get to hear the crowd, hear the announcers. This one, though, makes me want to watch over and over and over. Because it's perfect. What's the Platonic ideal of a brilliant catch? Probably someone running full speed, back to the ball, diving for a ball, full extension.
Maybe the best catch I've ever seen.
The best catch I've ever seen in person, almost certainly. A missed catch meant the Giants won the game. Look at how shallow Venable was playing. Look at the pitcher's reaction. There was no way.
This was the bottom of the 12th inning of a game that would go 13. I took the train, and the regular service stopped at midnight, which meant that I had to run after the last out to catch the special game-service train. I couldn't write up a post-game recap like I was supposed to. That catch ruined everything, and I had to run for the train thinking about a Giants loss, to boot.
Yet while I was running for the train, all I could think was, "Damn. What a catch." Forget the inconvenience, forget the game result. You don't get more than a handful of those situations in a baseball-watching career. Damn, what a catch. I still like looking at the GIF even though it was kind of a miserable experience personally.
In which I discover I have something of a going-back-on-the-ball fetish. Not ashamed. But one of the reasons I like this GIF so much, other than the obvious, is that it came with this still shot:
If you're wondering just how long a 162-game season is, they're just long enough to forget about stupefying catches like this. There's no reason why this shouldn't pop in all of our heads every time Didi Gregorious's name is mentioned, but it probably doesn't for most of you. There's just so much baseball -- and that much excellent Didi glove work -- that it probably doesn't.
Casper Wells throws a change
A lot of position players threw an inning in 2013. I'm fascinated by them all. But nothing's better in that sub-genre than when position players make other position players look bad. Here's a change from Casper Wells, who isn't a pitcher. It's a damned fine changeup.
Dang, I wish there were one of these every week from different position players. Buster Posey was a closer at FSU. How's about one slider? Same with Bryce Harper. C'mon, give us an inning. We never got to see Dave Winfield or Mark McGwire take the mound in the majors, so make it up to us, baseball gods.
Until then, here's Casper Wells throwing a super changeup. I love the angle, too.
Stephen Vogt wins a game
This comes from the TBS multi-camera setup you can get during the playoffs, which is perfect for moments like this. Everyone gets to appreciate this highlight, too, as the Tigers won the series, so they don't have to look back with more than a smattering of disgust.
In 2039, GIFs will be the size of your living-room wall, and they'll feature 256 different images, from the play, to the player's reaction, to the reaction of an ugly fan in section 310. You won't know what to do with all the information, but you'll be glad you have it, and you'll watch it over and over again.
Just kidding. GIFs won't exist in 2039. Enjoy the weird ride now, while you can.
Walter Johnson throwing a pitch
Here's Walter Johnson throwing a single pitch. Sometimes, it doesn't need to be complicated.
What did I miss? Plenty. Please use the comments to share the other GIFs of baseball players doing good baseball things. Hooray for baseball! Now let's get to the GIFs of baseball players falling down and/or getting hit in the beans, please.