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GIF Tournament IV: 'Miguel Herrera' vs. 'DOINK!'

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After nearly 30,000 votes, you and I have decided upon the four greatest animated sports GIFs of the year so far. Today we take to the polls once again, and decide which two GIFs advance to the championship.


(10) DOINK!

Voting will remain open until 11:30 p.m. Eastern. Click here to vote in the other Final Four match-up.



Finished second in Week 48 of THIS WEEK IN GIFs with 421 votes. Received 603 votes in Round 1, 432 votes in Round 2, and 784 votes in Round 3.

I'm gonna square right up with you: this GIF does not speak to me as he might to you. I like Mr. Herrera here -- in fact, I love him -- but I voted for his opponent in each of the last two rounds.

But time and again, you showed up and voted for him. Damn it, he means something to you. While I don't belong to your church, I respect -- no, celebrate -- your loves and your hopes. I will say this: I have never seen a an animated sports GIF more representative of unabated joy.

There is also something to be said for a GIF without failure, or trickery, or nonsense, or necessary context, or miracles. He is a happy man in the rain. He is SuccessfulBusinessmanStockImage.JPG made flesh. He is a simple portrait, and one you have neatly hung in the museums of your hearts. I may not love what you love, but I love that you love it.

(10) DOINK!


Special nomination. Has not previously appeared in THIS WEEK IN GIFs. Received 591 votes in Round 1, 415 votes in Round 2, and 863 votes in Round 3.

It fascinates me that no GIF we sent to the Final Four concerns sports in action. HOCKEY SORCERY! is a scuffle in off-clock action, MIGUEL HERRERA was on the sidelines, SNIPED METS FAN was in the stands, and this grand spectacle occurs while the ball is dead.

This GIF, which documents events from last year, came to my attention in the midst of GIF TOURNAMENT III, and I was determined to include it in the following tournament. It, for what it is, is perfect. Eric Chavez realizes Cody Eppley isn't looking for the ball the moment it leaves his fingertips. The "HEY HEY HEY" avalanches into a guttural sort of "gawww" that needn't be heard to be ... heard. I have never heard a louder GIF.

Look at Eppley. He's flexing his glove open and shut, as though it's a puppet, as though it's talking to him. Even after the ball hits him square in the dome, it keeps squeezing open and shut! Whatever he was doing must have been terribly important. Watch how he recoils, too, his wrist folded in like a baby Tyrannosaurus. (A dinosaur. You've seen a dinosaur in a GIF before, haven't you?) It's as though he's worried that more baseballs are headed for him.

This GIF offers appeal as broad as any I've ever seen in a sports GIF. I know we are witnessing something terribly special here. How special? That is up to you, and we will find out today.