I got the MLB assignment in March. As a member of our MLB highlight unit, I’d get assigned to series featuring some of the big names and big teams. I was slightly hesitant going into the season…I’ve always been a huge Red Sox fan, but never a huge baseball fan in general.
That quickly changed when bananas things started happening during my games. Over the last six months, I became very fortunate to witness crazy catches, mangers flipping their lid, walk-offs, and even a no-hitter.
So here they are…in chronological order, the best, coolest, most ridiculous things that happened during games I cut highlights for during the 2012 baseball season.
June 2: Johan Santana’s no-hitter – I told my story about this pretty much right after it happened. It made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside and so happy for all Mets fans. Especially the ones in attendance, who made my job easier by going absolutely ballistic with each out.
June 27: Mike Trout’s over-the-wall catch – The Troutster was already well on my radar when I got assigned to this Angels-Orioles game in late June, but he was just coming into the national spotlight. When someone makes a fantastic defensive play in a baseball, it is customary to yell “WEB GEM!” in screening, so the baseball staff is aware. When Trout made this catch in the bottom of the 1st, I yelled like Howard Dean.
Just one of the many absurd baseball things Trout did, in possibly the greatest rookie the game has ever seen. Trout has me hook, line and sinker (see what I did there?) for the next 15 years.
July 15: Ozzie Guillen points a bat at Bryce Harper…and calls him a “little piece of sh*t” – This was one of my many instances seeing Bryce Harper be Bryce Harper-ish…generally awesome and exciting, with an occasional instance of sassypants thrown in. What at that point had been a ho-hum Nationals-Marlins game got all sorts of sassy, when Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen got upset with the location of pine tar on Harper’s bat. When Harper came to the plate for the 2nd time with the pine tar in a different spot, Harper pointed his bat towards the Marlins dugout to show the new location, and Ozzie, from the dugout, mockingly pointed a bat back and started cussing at Harper like a sailor. The whole thing was so magnificently baseball, in that it doesn’t make sense to anyone outside the game. Initially, we had no idea why Harper pointed the bat or why Ozzie was yelling. We figured it out after Nationals manager Davey Johnson explained the pine tar sitch after the game. Through some lip-reading and high-level detective work, the highlight producers and I put together the sequence.
So basically, a smart-ass 19-year-old was kind of being a smart ass, and a person of authority on the other side totally lost his sh*t. And it was awesome.
August 17: Shark gets involved in the President’s Race - I was nearly in tears as I saw a shark involved in the President’s Race in the middle of the 4th inning of the Mets-Nationals game in Washington, D.C. It was so unexpected and so spectacular. We incorporated it into our highlight with mixed results…we tried to play Jaws-esque music under the highlight, but the audio level wasn’t high enough to get the full effect. Lesson learned.
August 21: Stephen Strasburg dominates in the rain – COUNTDOWN TO SHUTDOWN was in full effect when Strasburg took the mound against the Braves, after the Nationals bullpen had pitched more than 8 innings the night before. Strasburg looked like the picture of dominance the first 2 and 2/3 innings, before a rain delay sent the teams to the clubhouse. Up to that point, none of Strasburg’s career starts included a rain delay. After a delay of less than an hour, there was some discussion of ending his night, but he was sent back out to mound, where he continued to blow guys away. The broadcasters kept saying it was one of the best starts they’d ever seen him have, and it sticks in my mind as the most impressive pitching performance I cut a highlight for this year.
September 22: A’s-Yankees goes 14 innings – My longest game of the season clocked in at 5 hours, 43 minutes, 14 innings, and a wacky 10-9 Yankees win. We cut off a version of our highlight with the A’s up 9-5 heading to the bottom of the 13th, but with the Yankees with guys on base and two runs already home. I ran the shot sheet out to our anchor in the studio, and while waiting for the next commercial break, I see SportsCenter run a score graphic, showing the Yankees had tied the game at 9. I stare for a second, mouth agape, and run back to our edit room to begin tacking on new plays. The game ended on a walk-off error, and our original version became a shell of itself to make room for everything that happened late.
September 29: Michael Morse’s phantom grand slam – This is #1 on the list of weird things I cut highlights of this season. With the bases loaded, Morse’s deep fly ball to right bounced off a wall back into the field of play, and the Nationals on base weren’t sure if it was a home run or not. As the Cardinals played the ball back in, Morse sprinted back to 1st (because Adam LaRoche stopped at 2nd) and got tagged out. Upon review, the ball was indeed a home run, and Morse started to run the bases from 1st base, where he had been picked off. As he’s halfway to 3rd, he and the rest of the baserunners are sent back to their bases, and Morse got sent all the way home, where he mimicked his home run swing without a bat in his hand, and went all the way around the bases again. It’s just as ridiculous as it sounds.
October 1 and 2: The Oakland A’s clinch a playoff spot, and then tie for the AL West lead – These two games made me sprint onto the A’s bandwagon for the postseason. Everything about each win – the game-ending strikeout, the amazing reaction of the fans, the collective scrappiness – was an ingredient to the recipe for a perfect, lovable underdog. A few random notes and observations:
-I would like to adopt 23-year-old starting pitcher Jarrod Parker as my younger brother.
-September’s AL Rookie of the Month and native of Cuba Yoenis Cespedes smoked a Cuban cigar in the locker room during his postgame interview in the clubhouse, which was done through a translator. I swear I’m not making this up.
-Closer Grant Balfour is Australian. Which means he wins everything.
-As possibly not-politically-correct as this picture is, I am compelled to share it with you.
-I was slightly disappointed I was off work Wednesday, and couldn’t cut the highlight for when the A’s won the division. When you’re disappointed you’re not working, that’s when you know you love your job.
I think I can leave it at that. And that I am absolutely beside myself for the playoffs, where I’ll continue to cut highlights (I’ll be doing the AL Wild Card game Friday).
What was your favorite moment of the regular season? Who do you think will win the World Series?