This is the sixth or seventh installment of Fun With the Photo Tool, in which we look for the pictures in the SB Nation story editor that show up when we search for a single word or phrase. In this episode, we're looking for the word "fail."
As best as I can tell, the captions of the pictures are written by the photographers themselves, so what does it take for the captioneer to use the words "fail", "fails", or "failure"? The word "fail" has become an overused cliché, much like the word "epic", but it's still useful. It's the antonym of success.
What you would expect to find, then, are a bunch of derpy pictures of players running into each other, like we did with the word "error."
(Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Pictures of shame, pictures of embarrassment. Pictures of players recognizing their failure and reacting to it. The empty calories of watching another person fail before returning to our daily routines, in which we fail constantly.
Except I discovered something, here. We all know that it's funny to watch players make silly plays, but that's not what the word "fail" is reserved for in baseball. Here's failure in baseball:
(Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
That's Ryan Hanigan failing. But that's not failure as we know it. It's the ballet of baseball, and he's performing it expertly. Is it truly failure if he's an inch too short or a fraction of a fraction of a second too slow? He was not successful in his attempt to catch the ball, sure, but this isn't failure in the modern context. This isn't the failure as we know it in the context of the Internet.
(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
This picture doesn't show B.J. Upton's failure to catch a ball; it shows his effort in the attempt and just how close he came. I love that shot, with the forensic puff of dirt showing just how close he came.
Failure, in baseball terms, can be quite beautiful.
Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images
I could train for 10 hours every day, seven days a week, for five years and never come close to the grace Ben Revere is showing right here. I wish I could fail this well. In the photo tool of my life, my "fail" is me opening a bag of potato chips with too much force, ripping the bag in half and sending the chips everywhere. Revere's failure is an image that reveals the athletic potential of man.
Sometimes, that image also reveals an inspirational message.
Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports
Did you fail? Keep moving. Never give up. Never lose sight of the goal.
Again, there is a certain level of athleticism and grace in that shot. All of these pictures aren't examples of failure; some of them are the Platonic ideal of grace.
(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Some of of them. Because this is an old picture by our photo tool's standards, I don't have a version that's 4000x2500. You should be grateful for this. I, for one, am disappointed.
The point stands, though. When you search for failure in baseball, you're liable to find examples of athleticism in its purest form.
Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports
If that's failure. I don't want to succeed.
When it comes to people who aren't on the field, though … the word works just as we know it.
(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Just missed it, guy. If not for the fence and the physical distance and your eyes being closed, you would have had a souvenir and/or broken fingers.
(Photo by Duane Burleson/Getty Images)
Sure, it's a failure to catch the ball, but isn't the larger failure appreciating the talents of some of the best athletes in the world?
I'd like to think she was literally thinking "FAIL" in the Impact font of the brain.
Occasionally, the failure comes from people on the inside, too.
NEW YORK, NY - JULY 16: National League All-Star Carlos Gonzalez #5 of the Colorado Rockies fails to make a play on a ball hit by American League All-Star Prince Fielder #28 of the Detroit Tigers in the ninth inning during the 84th MLB All-Star Game on July 16, 2013 at Citi Field in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Mandatory Credit: Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports
One guy is trying really hard to lift the ATV, and the Phanatic is doing all he can not to walk up and spray the absolute hell out of him with silly string.
But of all the examples up there, all the aplomb and silliness, there was one perfect example of failure to be found. One perfect, unyielding, soul-spindling exhibition of failure.
Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports
Doesn't look that bad, right? Just a guy missing a ball and going into the stands. But, wait, enhance.
That … is that "Come at me bro" underwear? Is … does "Come at me bro" underwear exist?
/hums "My Country 'Tis of Thee"
It does exist. And that guy found it. Then he reached in his wallet, pulled out his credit card, and thought, "I need this. I worked for money, and in turn, that money will allow me to have this."
That is failure. That is the photographic evidence of how we've failed as a people. We live in a society where we have enough time to invent memes like "Come at me, bro" and enough disposable income to put those words on underwear. Perhaps that is the biggest failure of all.
Don't agree? Well … FAIL. Come at me, bro.