It never fails. Have 30 teams play 162 games apiece over six months and some crazy … stuff … is going to happen. It’s been said baseball is a game of inches, but it’s also a game of people and sometimes those people do the darnedest things.
Here are the 10 most unusual plays in Major League Baseball for 2012:
10. Carl Crawford doubles to right … up the middle (Boston Red Sox at New York Yankees, Aug. 17): Boston’s Carl Crawford drilled a comebacker right at New York pitcher David Robertson, who did his best David Beckham impression while trying to hop out of the way of the screaming liner. The ball ricocheted off Robertson’s foot into no-man’s land behind first base. Crawford wound up with a double on the play (click here for video).
9. Randy Wolf doesn’t exactly bring the heat (Cincinnati Reds at Milwaukee Brewers, Aug. 8): With Cincinnati’s Brandon Phillips at the plate and a 2-2 count, Milwaukee pitcher Randy Wolf decided to go with an off-speed pitch … a way off-speed pitch. Wolf’s curve ball registered a mere 49 mph on the scoreboard’s radar gun. Not surprisingly, the pitch was low (click here for video).
8. Ben Zobrist uses his head (Tampa Bay Rays at Chicago White Sox, Sept. 28): Chicago’s Dayan Viciedo hit a routine grounder to shortstop. But Tampa Bay shortstop Ben Zobrist made the play anything but routine. The ball bounced out of Zobrist’s glove, rolled around on his head, and then dropped back down in time for Zobrist to secure the ball and still nip Viciedo at first base by a step (click here for video).
7. Brandon Crawford gets his man … the hard way (Texas Rangers at San Francisco Giants, June 9): Adrian Beltre of Texas hit a towering popup behind second base and San Francisco shortstop Brandon Crawford called for the ball. Then he drifted. Then he drifted a little more. Soon he was on the first-base side of the infield. The popup caromed off Crawford’s glove and rolled away … right down the baseline toward base-runner Josh Hamilton. Crawford retrieved the ball and tagged out Hamilton. Just the way they draw it up (click here for video).
6. Ricky Nolasco has trouble finding his release point (Miami Marlins at Atlanta Braves, July 31): Facing Atlanta’s Brian McCann in the first inning, Miami pitcher Ricky Nolasco came set, checked the runner, rocked, and oops. He did everything but actually throw the pitch. But, hey, his delivery looked great right up until the point he didn’t let go of the baseball. He was called for a balk on the play (click here for video).
5. Paul Konerko eaten up by a sloooooooow roller (Chicago White Sox at Detroit Tigers, Sept. 2): Detroit’s Austin Jackson hit a slow roller right down the first-base line in the fifth inning. Chicago first baseman Paul Konerko waited … waited … waited some more … and then, boom. The ball hit the corner of the bag at first, bounced between Konerko’s glove and body, and Jackson was on first (click here for video).
4. Chris Davis hits a broken-bat flare … over the right-field wall (Pittsburgh Pirates at Baltimore Orioles, June 13): Facing Pittsburgh reliever Tony Watson in the bottom of the seventh, Baltimore’s Chris Davis swung for the fences. Watson had jammed Davis a bit on the pitch, breaking Davis’ bat. But Davis still had enough on the cut to send the ball over the right field wall for a two-run homer (click here for video).
3. Hard-luck strikeout for Aramis Ramirez (Milwaukee Brewers at Miami Marlins, Sept. 4): Miami pitcher Wade LeBlanc had two strikes on Milwaukee’s Aramis Ramirez and wanted to come inside with the next pitch. Man, did he ever come inside. The ball sailed over Ramirez’s head. The only problem was that the pitch deflected off Ramirez’s bat right into the glove of Marlins catcher Rob Brantly. No swing and a duck, strike three (click here for video).
2. Brian Dozier puts a little English on the ball (Kansas City Royals at Minnesota Twins, June 30): It’s one thing when a ball hits a couple of inches foul and spins back into fair territory. Minnesota’s Brian Dozier topped that by a couple of yards when he hit a ball off Kansas City’s Jonathan Sanchez that was at least five feet foul at one point but spun its way all the way back into fair territory for one of the shortest RBI singles on record (click here for video).
1. Hunter Pence messes around, gets a triple-double (St. Louis Cardinals at San Francisco Giants, Oct. 23): With the bases loaded and the Giants already holding a 2-0 lead, San Francisco’s Hunter Pence pulled off a feat that would have been a four-stroke penalty on a golf course. He hit the ball three times on one swing, completely fooling St. Louis shortstop Pete Kozma on a ball that went from routine double-play ball to bases-clearing double. That it was the seventh game of the National League Championship Series just made pitcher Joe Kelly’s luck that much worse (click here for video).
Phil Watson was a writer and editor for several daily newspapers for more than 20 years and is a longtime New York Yankee fan.