Baseball players may as well be on Mount Olympus. If an ancient Grecian woke up one day and saw Mookie Betts robbing a home run, or Mike Trout blasting a dinger, he would likely believe he was looking upon the gods.
But these players are still people. Fallible people. People who do things like trip over their feet and pour hot coffee directly onto their lap when checking the time. And just as we do these things, baseball players have bloopers. Bloopers are fun! And in a year that was anything but, it’s good to step back and smile a little.
So, let’s look back at the 10 best bloopers from 2020 and get ready for what will come in the new year.
10. Eloy Jiménez gets the net
The White Sox outfield was a wild place last year with the homer-bopping Jiménez in left field next to the dripping-with-tools rookie center fielder Luis Robert. But much like brothers, one is overly energetic and the other has to put up with it. So, there were no better moments than watching Jiménez settle under a pop-up only for Robert to come racing in and steal it away.
Stay out of Luis Robert’s way ??? pic.twitter.com/asNRHDJ3v6
— White Sox Talk (@NBCSWhiteSox) August 18, 2020
Robert’s instinct makes a lot more sense when you see how Jiménez approached this fly ball from the Tigers’ Niko Goodrum. Jiménez raced down the line, missed the ball and wound up like that morning’s fresh catch down at the pier.
Honestly, though, this seems like a great idea: Hammocks at ballparks.
9. Kole Calhoun’s header
Someone call up Jürgen Klopp at Liverpool and let him know the team’s next star is currently playing baseball.
After taking off from first base, Calhoun knew he had only once chance to advance on Tony Wolters throw: Give the ball a helpful little header into the outfield.
Unfortunately, while that would be great for a center back in soccer, that’s not allowed in baseball’s rule book, and so Calhoun was called out. Inventive? Yes. Wrong? Also yes.
8. The unfortunate bear
Children, look away. In the most gruesome attack on stuffed animals this side of “Breaking Bad,” one humble little bear was sitting and watching the A’s and D-backs play when Ketel Marte’s line drive bopped him square in the head.
Honestly, you can sum up all of 2020 in this one video:
7. Zack Greinke takes a seat
There is no pitcher quite like Greinke. He gives the front office his scouting opinions, loves his samurai sword, hates the guacamole prices at Chipotle and when the mound needs some repair, he simply sits and observes. It’s almost like guided meditation, watching him calmly taking in the scene.
The best of the best pic.twitter.com/ujeMUn4xDC
— Machete Maldonado (@Machete1224) August 24, 2020
Of course, because this is Greinke, he also threw the pitch equivalent of his mid-game rest by tossing a 54-mph eephus.
6. Brent Suter is a gymnast
The somersault is a move we’re all taught as children in our earliest gym classes. But while it’s a great thing to do as a kid — or even an adult provided you’re not worried about all those sounds your back is making — it’s not so great to unleash when you throw a pitch.
Fortunately, Suter is a professional athlete, and so he dusted himself off right after the pitch instead of laying on the ground for the next 30 minutes trying to catch his breath.
5. Max Muncy got hit “right in the leather”
Oof. Now this clip? Yeah, this is the quintessential sports blooper. This is what you think of when you think of a blooper.
It all unfolds so spectacularly. As the Padres runner rounded third, Dodgers right fielder Joc Pederson threw the ball into the infield. Enrique Hernández cut it off. He spun, aimed for home and hit Muncy right in the thigh. It’s no Hans Moleman with a football — but it’s close.
4. Richard Rodriguez throws way inside
Forget Statcast. When the Pirates’ reliever uncorked this one, the only people who could have tracked the pitch is MUFON.
3. Hunter Pence loses the no-hitter
Pence sadly hung up his cleats this year, depriving us of his strange, pretzel-like contortions at the plate and wild-eyed dives for dying liners. But in his last season — a homecoming with the San Francisco Giants — he gave us one final enduring blooper.
With Johnny Cueto carrying a no-hitter into the bottom of the sixth inning, the Dodgers’ Enrique Hernández hit a towering fly ball to left field. Pence raced in and, with the same look on his face as when you realized you left your thesis at home on the day it was due, could only stare in confusion as it landed about 50 feet behind him.
Because this is Pence, he was able to take it in stride. He even posted a meme about the play:
Even when you miss the mark there is beauty in your teammates backing you up and supporting you pic.twitter.com/TQwSDe7dhy
— Hunter Pence (@hunterpence) August 9, 2020
2. Jo Adell’s four-base whoopsie
It’s hard being a rookie. You’re young and inexperienced and probably still have to ask for help finding the copier inside the clubhouse. (I assume clubhouses have a full suite of services, like the business center at a moderately priced hotel chain.) Not only that, but you’re asked to face off against the very best and most talented players in the entire world.
So, it’s excusable that Angels top prospect Jo Adell struggled in his debut last year. But it’s not going to make this gift home run he gave to Nick Solak any easier. Hey, at least it didn’t go off his head.
Don’t worry, Jo. We’ve all been here before.
1. Brett Phillips’ walk-off hit
How lucky are we? The best blooper of the year was a walk-off hit in the World Series. Do you know how rare that is? That’s like finding the Hope diamond at the bottom of a cereal box.
In the bottom of the ninth in Game 4, the Rays’ most important hitting coach, Brett Phillips, hit a low liner to the outfield. The ball blooped its way out of Chris Taylor’s glove and blooped its way past catcher Will Smith, all while Randy Arozarena blooped over his feet, got back up, and scored the winning run.
The Rays may have lost the World Series, but they certainly won the best bloopers of 2020.
Michael Clair writes for MLB.com. He spends a lot of time thinking about walk-up music and believes stirrup socks are an integral part of every formal outfit.