There are a lot of topics that I beat into the ground (say, did you know there were two different pitchers named Jeff D'Amico?!?) but #1 on the list is probably the videos that MLB.com had on their site. Or, rather, the videos they didn't have on their site. I would regularly offer things in exchange for classic videos on MLB.com -- cash, jewelry, toddlers -- but, alas, MLB Advanced Media was not interested in such things.
At some point during the offseason, though, they started quietly sneaking videos onto the site. And they're glorious. You can find the full set here, and there's so much to go through. For now, though, let's just look at the 10 best they've added in the last two months. The person in charge of the uploading has a fascination with the Expos, splash hits at AT&T Park, and Darryl Strawberry, not that we're complaining.
The top 10:
10. Greg Maddux's first win
With this one, you have:
a) Harry Caray making the call …
b) … on the first of 355 wins this small, 20-year-old child would get over his career ...
c) … which leads to him and his sweet mustache getting congratulated by 23-year-old kid named Jamie Moyer. The two would combine for 48 seasons, 624 wins, and 9,082 innings.
9. Cone perfect game
One of my favorite things that MLB.com does is chop up the best pitching performances into 27 outs. There have been 23 perfect games in baseball history. Fourteen of them get some kind of video treatment on MLB.com, but several of those are of the last-out variety. Only five of them have videos posted of all 27 outs.
Obviously, we're never going to get video of Cy Young setting down all 27 Philadelphia A's in 1904, but every perfect game uploaded to MLB.com is cause for celebration.
8. Barry Bonds hitting baseballs
They have a bunch, so I picked a random one. Well, it isn't exactly random because it was a long, long home run. I've watched about 1,000 games at AT&T Park by now, and I can say without equivocation that it is hard to for baseball players to hit a baseball there that goes that far. Sure, Bonds was hopped up on chemistry, but so was everyone else. So are a bunch of players today. But no one hits them like Bonds. No one hit them like Bonds, even when the entire sport was dirty.
Look for the cameo of the decoy ball thrown into the Bay, too. People used to do that all the time, but then they stopped bringing decoys because it became clear that it was pretty rare for home runs to reach the water. Everyone thought home runs would go out there constantly. Father Guido Sarducci had a trained team of Portuguese water dogs to retrieve the balls, but he stopped going to the ballpark with them because they didn't get enough use.
(Also, read that last sentence again.)
7. Ken Griffey, Jr. walk-off home run
I like this one as a snapshot in time. This home run brought the Mariners to .500. It was August 24, and the Mariners were 11½ back in the AL West. The Mariners would go 24-11 after that, the Angels would go 11-23, and then the Mariners would beat the Yankees in the ALDS. If you would have told that to anyone before Griffey's at-bat up there, they probably would have, dunno, cranked the DMB up on their Discman and pretended not to hear you.
6. 1971 Roberto Clemente
It's a World Series homer (Game 7, 1971), and it's Roberto Clemente, so it has to make the cut. Most of us know the legends and Hall of Famers from the stats and stories, but it's surprisingly rare for us to see a nice, clean video of a lot of their motions, deliveries, and swings. That's how Roberto Clemente swung a baseball bat, and that's the kind of easy power he had to center, even as a 36-year-old. If you didn't know any of that before, this video might be the best of the bunch.
5. Albert Belle walk-off
A few reasons for this one being so awesome. First, it's a run-of-the-mill, regular-season walk-off from nearly two decades ago -- the kind of hit that will happen several times this year, but will be remembered only by the die-hard fans five years from now. So when we get a chance to see one of yore, we should appreciate it.
Second, look at the crowd. This was one of the greatest eras in Indians franchise history. When people talk about McGwire and Sosa saving baseball, they don't mean in Cleveland. Baseball was doing just swell there in 1995.
Third, more people should be talking about Albert Belle.
4. Hideo Nomo fans 17
After players retire and drift off into the far reaches of our consciousness, there's a tendency to forget about the ones who started on a Hall of Fame pace before injuries and ineffectiveness made them a different kind of player. Hideo Nomo was a journeyman, a stopgap, and an innings-eater (but only when healthy). He was a Detroit Tiger, which you didn't remember or know until about two seconds ago. But for a while, he was one of the best pitchers -- and best stories -- in baseball. This video shows why.
Plus, I have a split-finger fetish. Look at that thing go!
3. glenallen hill what did you just do oh my word
That's as hard as you can hit a baseball. I saw the Canseco/Skydome homer live. I've seen Barry Bonds murder baseballs. Cecil Fielder just missed the list with this moonshot. But Glenallen Hill's home run is still the hardest-hit ball I think I've ever seen.
2. Bo Jackson runs up a wall
When you're 12, you need a side of mythology with your baseball players, and this was one of the most mythological events of my childhood.
The ball is driven to the opposite field. Here's what the outfield looks like when the shortstop has turned around to watch the flight of the ball:
And here's how the play ends up:
For years, it was hard to find this play on the Internet. Eventually, you could find it on an MLB Network Remembers clip. But it's much better served with the original clip, in which you can hear the crowd react and the announcers giggle.
1. Eric Davis, Ray Knight have a disagreement
Pete Rose! Kevin Mitchell! Gary Carter! Eric Gregg! Karate experts! The announcers were talking about karate experts! George Foster stayed on the Mets' bench, and it was one of the things that led to his release. Gary Carter played third base after the numerous ejections.
It's certainly one of the most legitimate brawls you'll see on a baseball field. Ray Knight almost looked like he didn't want to tussle, and then he just cold-cocked Eric Davis. You rarely see that.
But when you do, it brings back good memories.
Ahhhh. I'm not a violent man, but any video that makes me post that picture is a good video.
I'd love to think this will be a monthly series. But even if the videos go up slowly, it's still an improvement over last year's status quo.
(Hat tip to Tim Britton for the alert that the videos were live!)