There’s probably a metaphor here, with this subject kicking off my inaugural post. Read into it what you will.
Sports fans, myself included, are fond of mentally elevating their own athletic ability after a professional makes a particular mistake. It’s often you’ll hear from a casual observer, “Oh, I could have done that.” It’s a fun thing to say, even if it is sort of dickish. It allows the speaker to inhabit the realm of the supremely talented, if only for a single fleeting moment. It’s kind of a funny statement, sometimes, I suppose. Oh that highly paid professional athlete made a blunder that I also could have made with my significantly smaller paycheck and talent level! is the implication. The dirty little secret is that most of the time, and depending on the speaker, these statements are usually wrong. Hilariously wrong, even. Most sports fans probably don’t even posses the ability to put themselves in the proper position to make such a mistake. They aren’t fast enough, can’t jump high enough, can’t throw a ball as hard, can’t swing a bat as fast. Most sports fans would need an infusion of talent to simply attempt to make the mistake of a professional athlete.
There are exceptions to this, of course. Like swinging a golf club and missing the ball, botching a long snap, getting hit in the face with a basketball. Most people could, in fact, do these things themselves, with no real inkling of talent or prior athletic experience. Most people could do those things—those things, and also what Octavio Dotel did this afternoon.
Following perhaps the most viciously struck home run of the season by Prince Fielder off Jaime Garcia, Dotel entered with his team down one run. Given his ability to get right-handed batters out with the best of them, Dotel wasn’t a bad choice to face the swift swinging Rickie Weeks. He threw a ball. On the next pitch, Weeks shot a come-backer to the mound, Dotel knocked the ball down in front of him, and then this happened.
Happen, it did. It’s long been a great source of amusement to me when pitchers fail to accurately throw the ball to first base. They can throw a baseball 95 miles-per-hour! They can spin it so it dives and slides around in the air! But they often can’t make a routine throw to first! Inarguablely very humorous, and this particular throw is no exception. There’s nothing about it that looks athletic in the slightest. It’s as if Dotel attempted to gently place the ball in the first baseman’s glove, carefully and from a great distance. Like a child participating in an egg toss competition at the summer fair.
Mercilessly, another same such event managed to happen on the very next pitch. Professional Baseball Player Yuniesky Betancourt stepped into the batter’s box and proceeded to deliver the swinging equivalent of Dotel’s throw to first. It was a bad swing. You can see it here following some hot baseball talk from Al Leiter and Ron Gant. I didn’t have the sound on when I browsed that video, but I have no doubt those two are delivering some top-notch baseball analysis, and having a hell of a time while doing it.
Some time passed, and 7 more pitches were thrown in the at-bat, the final of which was sent over the right-center field wall by Yuni for a real life major league home run. I think the moral of this story is that baseball is fucking silly.