The Week In Worst: Professional Athletes Playing Sports Poorly

CHICAGO, IL - AUGUST 31: Catcher Buster Posey #28 of the San Francisco Giants (R) can only watch as Welington Castillo #53 of the Chicago Cubs scores on a fielding error made by Posey during the third inning at Wrigley Field on August 31, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. Castillo doubled scoring teammate Starlin Castro #13 and Posey dropped the ball on the throw home, allowing Castillo to score from second base. (Photo by Brian Kersey/Getty Images)

The Week in Worst returns. We celebrate the very worst plays in baseball from the past week.

Hello, everyone and welcome back to the Week in Worst. For the foreseeable future, I'll be your new host, taking over for the great Jeff Sullivan. Some of you may already be familiar with this feature and may be confused as to why it is appearing on SB Nation proper rather than its usual home at Baseball Nation. The reason for the move is that beginning next week, the Week in Worst will expand to include NFL plays as well. But we're still proud to present one last, glorious baseball-only week of the very worst plays in sports.

Since we've been gone a while, we're providing you with GIFs a-plenty this time around. For those of you still on dial-up or AOL or whatever, you may want to view this at the library or something. Or borrow a friend's Internet and buckle up, because we're headed to Long-Page-Load Junction!

Let us first acknowledge that this Barry Zito pitch is the worst pitch of likely the entire year and happened while we were away, but plenty has been said about that debacle already. Go ahead and click the link and laugh for a bit; then it's time to move on.

Without further ado, here are the worst plays in baseball for the week of August 27-September 2.

Worst Pitch (Location)

Pitcher: Esmerling Vasquez

Date: September 2

Location: 52.39 inches from center of plate, 50.71 inches from center of plate

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While there was another pitch that was farther away from the target this week, Vasquez gets the honor of worst pitch. Why is that, may you ask? Well, it's because this was the very next pitch in this Mike Moustakas at-bat:

Vasquez_pitch_2_medium

Yikes and woof and yikes. The hilarious thing is that before the 0-1 pitch, the cameraman did not frame the shot with that wide expanse of open space on the right. After the 0-2 pitch, there was suddenly an enormous cavern of backstop visible to the catcher's left, as though Carnac himself was manning the center field camera. Well done, you wizard of framing. You prince of mise-en-scene. We GIF-loving baseball fans owe you a debt of gratitude.

We also owe a debt of gratitude to the production truck for giving us a longer look at this ump Charleston.

Vasquez_pitch_3_medium

Honorable Mention: James McDonald, September 3, 62.94 inches from center of plate

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Gotta love the ump handing the new ball to the tiny catcher and then looking back towards the airball, as though he couldn't believe anyone could throw a pitch that badly. The good news for McDonald is that Jeff Bianchi hit a home run off of him a couple pitches later. Wait, that's not good news at all!

Honorable Mention: Fausto Carmona Roberto Hernandez, 39.62 inches from center of plate

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Fausto Carmona changed his name to Roberto Hernandez, but he has continued to pitch as though his name is Bad-At-Baseball Von LousyPitch. The catcher, umpire and batter all look at the pitch in unison as it ricochets off of the glove. Hernando Faustona doesn't look, for he knows. He knows all too well.

Honorable Mention: Kevin Jepsen, August 28, 47.64 inches from center of plate

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The Angels bullpen has been bad this year, thanks in part to pitchers like Kevin Jepsen, who hurl 57-foot dirt-darts like they're holding down the "Up" arrow in "Baseball Stars" for the NES. Any Angels fan looking at the above GIF is likely saying "At least it isn't Jason Isringhausen" inside their heads right now.

Worst Pitch (Result)

Pitcher: J.P. Howell

Batter: Edwin Encarnacion

Date: September 1

Result: Home run, 118.9 mph off the bat

Edwin_homer_medium

Encarnacion absolutely annihilated this meatball right over the middle of the plate. At first I thought that part of the problem was that Howell fell down during the pitch, leading to the missed location. However, upon further review, it appears as though Howell was knocked down by the wind behind Edwin's swing. This was the fifth-fastest home run to leave a bat in 2012 and it nearly bowled this poor Rays pitcher ass-over-teakettle. Thank god this man is a professional or he might have been seriously hurt.

Worst Swing

Batter: Nelson Cruz

Pitcher: Esmil Rogers

Date: August 31

Cruz_swing_medium

It's a pretty bad pitch, sure. Certainly not one that Cruz wanted to swing at with a runner in scoring position and less than two outs, but the anger-theatrics following the whiff really put this over the top for this week's worst swing. If you look closely, you can see Nelson Cruz being ejected from the game at the end of the GIF. Tossed out for a lousy swing. A new high-water mark in bad swings.

Honorable Mention: Justin Maxwell against Sergio Romo, August 30

Romo_swing_medium

Because it just wouldn't be a Week in Worst without the Houston Astros, would it?

Worst Defensive Play

Team: San Francisco Giants

Opponent: Chicago Cubs

Date: August 31

This is such a catastrophically large GIF that it really shouldn't be included in the feature itself, for fear of shattering everyone's Internet (NOTE: I don't know how computers work). But please let this preview image tell 1,000 words about how bad this play was.

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The above image is of a baseball laying perfectly still on the grass behind home plate, with no one anywhere around it, as a runner is coming home. Later in the play, the ball will be laying on a different part of the grass, behind third base, with no one anywhere around it.

Please click here to see the play as it aired live, except in GIF form.

And please click here to see a different, more spectacularly woeful angle of his awful, awful play.

If you have clicked the above links, you have seen that Madison Bumgarner failed to back up Buster Posey until it was far too late. Afterward, Bumgarner Rick Barry'd the ball toward Posey, although not really at Posey. The affable catcher could only slowly turn and watch as the ball settled calmly in foul ground on the third-base line, just doing its damnedest to mind its own business.

This play began with a man running into an ivy-covered brick wall and ended with a baseball doing its best Sheepish Apple impression.

BONUS: Best Worst Pitch

Team: Detroit Tigers

Opponent: Kansas City Royals

Date: August 30

Every now and then, something starts out terrible and ends up -- well, not terrific, exactly, but certainly better than expected. Darin Downs of the Tigers probably experienced a range of emotions in the process of making this pitch and subsequent play.

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Congratulations to Darin Downs and the Detroit Tigers, the first-ever recipients of the SB Nation Best Worst Pitch. Hold your heads high, for although this game completed your sweep at the hands of the Royals, this GIF shall live forever. Or at least until our Johnny Mnemonic-style brain tethers render these moving images obsolete.

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