These year-end retrospectives for GIFs usually work better with categories. Best GIFs of players falling into a ravine. Best GIFs of umpires choking on popcorn shrimp. Classifications help us sort through the scores and scores of possibilities. There are so many GIFs out there.
This is the final installment, though, and it's a post without classifications. These are just my favorites out of all the GIFs I made this year. Well, if they were actually my true favorites, this one would be on there:
Why is Willie Mays eating an ice-cream bar and peering out sullenly over his own gigantic name? It doesn't matter. It happened. And I watch it over and over again when I'm feeling blue or unconfused.
But you're not as interested in that. You're interested in the 10 favorites of the ones with some sort of general appeal. I get that. Here goes …
10. Jose Fernandez is young, impressed
Because that's how I'd feel if I hit a baseball that far. Because that's the same measure of awe and wonder that I think would ooze out of my pores. Because I enjoy baseball players acting like complete asses when it upsets other baseball players.
This isn't even the best dinger-admiring of the year, but it's my favorite from the major-league ranks. There's a seven-word sentence in the ad behind Jose Fernandez. He doesn't start running until about the first word of the sentence.
There's a little backstory. Chris Johnson and the Braves spent a lot of the game tormenting Fernandez, jawing at him and making various faces. Evan Gattis had a deliberate homer gait of his own. This wasn't just awe and admiration. There was catharsis and oneupsmanship here, too.
Still, the face. The eyes. That's an all-time admiration. And I can't get enough.
Underrated part of the GIF: Hand-on-head guy.
Second underrated part of the GIF: Just how damned hard Fernandez hit that ball.
9. C'mon, dude.
It's nothing we weren't thinking. C'mon. Stop wasting our time. C'mon.
8. Royals face
Okay, that part about "general appeal" up there … I might have lied. I'm mostly interested in me. And I love this. I don't care if anyone else cares. It's a man with funny hair and a funny mustache making a funny face and blinking while wearing a shiny jacket. It's brilliant.
And it's useful, too. Hey, did you hear the Royals traded Wil Myers?
Wait, did Ned Yost just ask Eric Hosmer to bunt?
So many applications.
7. Musicians and baseball
Seriously, I was lying about the general appeal. These are all my personal favorites, sucker. Here's Geddy Lee walking on a baseball field with a gigantic blue jay:
I don't know. I like how the mascot gets a little into it, and then Geddy starts getting into it. This GIF kind of bugs me, though, because I spend the next three days saying "OOOOOFFFFF SALESMEN!" under my breath for no good reason. This GIF is clearly superior:
Say, that's Megadeth, posing for a picture! Then there's a twist. The photographer was actually the Metallica of pitchers! Which means that Dave Mustaine used to live inside him until he was violently expelled against his wishes. Or something. Wait, lemme start over …
The point is, I liked these GIFs, but now we're really going to start with general-appeal entries.
6. Rangers Kid
Kids falling down: general appeal. The dugout obscuring everything but the hat is a nice touch. My other favorite part is the old-school batting helmet on the kid next to him. I have so many of those things in a box somewhere in my parents' attic. They need to make a comeback.
5. Nate Freiman is gigantic
I never thought of Andres Torres as a particularly small man. Then he's behind Nate Freiman, looking for his third-base coach, and Torres looks like a Lilliputian. The bird-like neck gyrations are good enough for a GIF, but the "THERE" from Roberto Kelly puts this over the top.
Here's an honorable-mention Freiman GIF:
It's probably important to note that Freiman would be a relatively normal power forward. Maybe a little on the small side. Other sports are weird.
4. Elvis Andrus trolling combo
But once you know that Beltre is weird about his head, this GIF is amazing:
Elvis Andrus is a puppy. He's a seven-year-old. He's a Batman villain, but with a completely normal childhood and upbringing. He's all of the above, and he's absolutely showing it off in that GIF. I'm not sure if that is the best friendship-related GIF I've ever seen, but it's certainly the best GIF when you want to prove that being a good friend occasionally means being a complete ass.
It didn't stop there. After Beltre returned to the dugout, Andrus needed to touch Beltre's head. It's his catchphrase.
Predictable, but always satisfying
3. Angel Hernandez is awful
Maybe the worst strike call I've ever seen? Not sure. On the shortlist, though. This came in a crucial spot in the World Baseball Classic. Dozens of people were watching. And I can't get enough of it. If another umpire made the call, I'm not sure if the GIF would have cracked the top 10. But I have a special animosity for Hernandez, or at least the way he umpires.
In the future, all umpires will have Google Glass, and they'll watch Empty Nest reruns on YouTube instead of the games they're supposed to be working, just like we all would. Until then, this is an amazing what in the absolute hell were you watching landmark. Because what in the absolute hell was Angel Hernandez watching?
2. Alfredo Despaigne is amazing
Alfredo Despaigne is an unhealthy obsession of mine. And that was before this GIF:
It works so well as a GIF because you can picture him walking around the bases like that. You never get to see him break into a trot. It's a 360-foot stroll, bat in hand, daring someone to complain. Maybe halfway between first and second, he climbed on the back of an ostrich and pranced around for a bit, pirouetting the bird and taunting the fans, as close to a living Joust reenactment as we'll ever get or deserve.
Yasiel Puig played Cuban baseball, where this sort of thing is cool, if not encouraged. It's not better baseball, or worse. Just different.
But also different. That's why I find it hard to make Puig's quirkiness/insanity a defining moral issue of our times. He's young, and he grew up playing baseball in a league that allowed showboating of the most magnificent order. Look at how Despaigne walks! Just walks and walks and walks. Isn't that fascinating to anyone else? Hello? Please, validate my beliefs, this is incredible, right?
1. Butt face slide butt face butt
Well, you're not here because you're looking for the Algonquin Round Table. An alternate angle:
And one more for the completionists:
The only thing that diminishes this GIF -- and it's nitpicking of the highest order -- is that Brandon Phillips was looking to do something like this, like a 14-year-old boy playing Call of Duty. But that might make it better, even. Why would he do that? Why would he think of that? How long has he planned this? My god, this is amazing, isn't it?
He slid into a butt, people. He slid into a butt.