Previous “Baseball Bloopers” posts

An Automatic Strike to End a Game 

Just the way the Sox drew it up, I’m sure.

When the MLB season starts at the end of March, it will feature several rule changes. One of the most impactful of those is sure to be the new pitch clock, which requires pitchers to deliver a pitch in a set amount of time and batters to be ready to face it. On Saturday, the rule lead to a game ending after an automatic strike was assessed to a slow batter for Atlanta.

It was the situation that every child growing up playing baseball dreams of. Game tied at 6, bottom of the ninth inning, bases loaded and a 3-2 count. Atlanta infielder Cal Conley was at the plate, facing Boston relief pitcher Robert Kwiatkowski. Kwiatkowski started in for the sign from his catcher and came set to throw a critical pitch on a full count.

Conley was charged an automatic strike for not being ready in time under the new pitch clock rules, and the strike out was called.

Not…exactly how kids dreamed of that situation unfolding when playing in the backyard growing up, but this is the new normal in MLB. Thankfully everyone has spring training to get adjusted before this happens in the regular season.

This particular incident is extra silly because spring training games don’t have extra innings, and thus the game simply ended in a tie.

Despite this foolishness, I’m quite excited about the pitch clock. I expect it will speed up game times significantly, particularly given what we saw last seasons in the minor leagues:

To people familiar with the myriad rule changes MLB officials tested in recent years, the pitch clock has long felt like the most foolproof way to rejuvenate the sport. In its first year in use across the minor leagues, it has reduced the average game time from 3 hours 4 minutes in 2021 to 2:36 in 2022, according to MLB data through Sunday. MLB matchups have not averaged a game time that brief since the early 1980s.

Substantially shorter games will be a boon for the sport. I just hope players adapt quickly, so these penalties don’t wind up playing a critical role in big moments.

The Mickey Mantle Letter

* The All-American Boy

Today, let’s discuss a truly one-of-a-kind piece of sports memorabilia, which I call “The Mickey Mantle Letter”. Back in 1972, to prepare for a celebration of 50 years at Yankee Stadium, the Yankees asked many former players to share an outstanding experience:

A letter from the Yankees asking Mickey Mantle to share an outstanding experience from Yankee Stadium.

In response, retired superstar centerfielder Mickey Mantle sent back this incredibly obscene reply:

I got a blow job under the right field bleachers by the Yankee Bullpen…It was about the third or fourth inning. I had a pulled groin and couldn't fuck at the time. She was a very nice girl and asked me what to do with the cum after I came in her mouth. I said don't ask me, I'm no cock-sucker. It is signed “Mickey Mantle - The All-American Boy.”

I’ve actually heard this hilariously vulgar story before, but I had no idea there was a physical artifact written in Mantle’s own hand. Now, incredibly, it’s available for sale. The current bid, at time of publication, is $24,826. Despite the sum involved, I hope whoever wins this auction donates the letter to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, where it can be displayed publicly. That belongs in a museum!

As a result of this auction, additional details have come out. However, I’m undecided if I believe them. Give the following a read, and decide for yourself. From the auction listing:

Subsequent to the catalog publication, we were contacted by former New York Yankees executive Marty Appel, who has first-hand knowledge of this letter, which he kindly shared with us:

“I was the Yankees Assistant PR Director then, with Bob Fishel my boss. We wrote to many ex-Yankees for a 1973 50th anniversary Yearbook feature on ‘greatest memory.’ That is my handwriting on ‘Dear Mickey’ and ‘Bob Fishel.’ Mick’s response is indeed his, in his handwriting, but it was meant to shock the very straight-laced Bob Fishel on whom he was always playing practical jokes. The item is authentic, but the intent was bawdy humor, not depiction of a real event. I called Mick when I received it and said, ‘We’re going with the Barney Schultz home run in 1964’ and he laughed and said ‘Of course.’ I held the letter for decades (never showed Bob Fishel), finally gave it to Barry Halper, and from there it slipped off to others over time.” – Marty Appel.

Is Marty Appel covering for Mickey Mantle or was the Mick really pulling a hell of a dirty prank? Is this a valiant attempt at whitewashing a hero’s legacy, or just the truth about a good joke? Honestly, I’m not sure which I’d prefer. The “PERSONAL” Mantle scribbled on the return envelope does lend a bit of credence to the idea that this was a farce, rather than the act of a man who simply did not give a fuck.

Still, I find myself not entirely convinced. If this was indeed a bit of tomfoolery, then Appel’s claim that he never showed his boss the letter is an absolute crime. At least the rest of the world eventually got to see.

Previously in auctions for inappropriate Mickey Mantle Memorabilia: A Valuable Apology

Boston Uniforms, Gross and Fly

It would be nice to have more cool designs and fewer ads.

In the continued quest to put advertising in every conceivable place, Major League Baseball teams are now permitted to sell placement on their actual uniforms. Back in April, the Padres were the first team to announce a partnership, one which will feature hilariously large Motorola patches. Sadly, my hometown Red Sox have now joined this vulgar parade.

A Red Sox uniform with an unseemly ad patch on one sleeve.

In a word: Yuck. In an emoji: 🙊. Though MassMutual is a Massachusetts-based insurance company with 170+ years of history in the Bay State, they simply don’t belong on the team’s uniform. No one does. Alas, I have little doubt that this scourge is coming for the rest of the league as well.

In better uniform news, friend-of-the-site Casey L. and I were recently discussing mock-ups for alternate jersey for the Boston Celtics. He had found a fun jersey design created by a fan:

A Celtics jersey mockup, showing the colored lines of Boston’s subway system, as well as the system’s “T” logo.
[Image via @petemrogers]

This design plays off of Boston‘s public transit system (known as “The T”), including our four colored subway lines, two of which (Orange and Green) meet at North Station where the Celtics play. It’s a very nice idea. Unfortunately, it wasn’t an original one. I had actually seen and enjoyed this same image a day or two earlier, before learning that it was actually a fairly obvious knock-off of another artist’s better design:

A better Celtics jersey mockup, also showing the colored lines of Boston’s subway system, as well as the system’s “T” logo.
[Image via Reddit]

Happily, when “timbo_sport” came to defend their honor, it led me to check out more of their work. That brought me to my favorite design yet, their “Cutting Edge”:

A wonderful Celtics jersey mockup, showing the lines and towers of the Zakim Bridge.

This gorgeous design subtly references the cables and towers of the Zakim Bridge, which sits directly next to TD Garden, the Celtics’ home arena. Living just down the street, I’ve captured a number of decent pictures of this bridge. However, this (slightly cropped) 2013 shot from Eric Kilby does a superior job of showing both the bridge and the Garden:

[Photo credit: Eric Kilby]

Built as part of Boston’s infamous Big Dig, the Zakim was at one time the world’s widest cable-stayed bridge, and it remains an icon for the city. Paying homage to it on the Celtics uniform would be delightful. Maybe some day.

From an ad-marred shame, to a decent image that turned out to be a knock-off, to the original creator’s better execution, to the above masterpiece, it was quite a uniform roller coaster. Of course, I’ll be forced to see the livery I most disliked all season next year, while the looks I enjoyed most don’t actually exist. A man can dream, though. A man can dream.

The Great Potato Capers 

You say ‘Potato’, the umpire says ‘Ejected’

The Williamsport Crosscutters, a minor league baseball team, recently rebranded for one night. Their temporary new name was “The Potato Capers”.

An image of the Potato Capers jerseys
[Image courtesy of the Williamsport Crosscutters]

Why? Well, it was the 35th anniversary of what is perhaps the single most ridiculous pranks I can recall hearing of in (semi-)professional sports.

Don’t Trade With Tampa Bay

It's a safe bet that they’re smarter than you are.

Most years, the Tampa Bay Rays have one of the lowest payrolls in Major League Baseball. Despite that, they’ve frequently fielded a competitive team, despite playing in the same division as the powerhouse Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees. One way they’ve done this is by finding undervalued players and capitalizing on their skills while they’re still on inexpensive or team-friendly deals. Another way, apparently, is by taking advantage of idiots.

I’m sure many MLB GMs read One Foot Tsunami, and I urge them to heed my advice: If Tampa Bay shows interest in a player, just don’t trade them. They’re probably days away from breaking out as superstars.

Welcome to the Bigs 

Sometimes a game’s a stinker, but it can still be fun.

Baseball has all manner of statistics to track the performance of players. You might have heard of the unfortunately ever-more-rare “quality start”, wherein a pitcher goes 6+ innings and gives up 3 or fewer runs. Today, you can learn about its opposite, the “quantity shart”.

It’s a Safe Bet That the Rangers Weren’t Stealing Signs 

Take a pitch, guys.

As most folks know, in baseball, it’s one, two, three strikes and you’re out. A strikeout is a fairly common way for an at bat to end, occurring many times each game. Striking out the side is a rarer event, wherein a pitcher strikes out all three batters they face in an inning.1 Much, much rarer still is an “immaculate inning”, which occurs when a pitcher throws nine straight strikes and strikes out all three batters. In Major League Baseball’s history of millions of innings, just over 100 of them have been immaculate.

Earlier this week, the Houston Astros managed not one, but two, immaculate innings in one game. Hapless Texas Rangers Nathaniel Lowe, Ezequiel Duran, and Brad Miller went down on nine straight strikes in the second inning, for the 107th immaculate inning of all time. Then, incredibly, the very same batters did the same in the seventh for the 108th, and most recent, immaculate inning.

They say that every time you go to the ballpark, you’re going to see something you’ve never seen before. If you were a Rangers fan at the game on June 15, 2022, you saw something no one’s ever seen before, and it wasn’t great for you.


  1. Wikipedia states: “There is a disagreement as to the exact definition of striking out the side. Some feel a pitcher should be credited with striking out the side when all three outs in the inning were obtained via the strikeout, regardless of what other hitters that the pitcher has faced have done.” Those people are wrong.↩︎

Here Comes the Ceremonial First Pitch 

Every time you come out to the ballpark, you’ll see something you've never seen before.

Last night, before the Red Sox defeated the Houston Astros, heir to the Benihana fortune (and also some sort of musician, apparently) Steve Aoki threw out a ceremonial first pitch. It was…not great. In fact, it was so airmailed that if not for the netting above the stands behind home plate, the ball would’ve landed quite deep in the crowd.

If only was Max Scherzer had been there when Steve Aoki needed him.

Introducing PitchCom 

Ideas are worthless without execution.

Baseball is back, and this season, a whole lot has changed. From a universal designated hitter to mic’ed up umpires, it’s a brave new world. Perhaps the most intriguing change is the addition of a new system called PitchCom, which uses wireless transmitters to allow pitchers and catchers to determine what pitch will be thrown. Technology is finally being used to prevent sign-stealing, rather than just enabling it.

USA Today has a story on the new system, which offers several intriguing details, including this origin story:

ProMystic, a company that creates and designs similar technologies for performing magicians and mentalists, developed PitchCom. Company co-founder John Hankins said he was inspired by the fallout of the Houston Astros’ electronic sign-stealing scandal, which used an instantaneous video-replay system to decode catchers’ finger signs in real time, to create a technology that protected the game’s integrity.

Hankins, an attorney in addition to his credentials as a technical engineer, filed the patent paperwork within a week of his idea in late 2019. He challenged Craig Filicetti, his fellow co-founder, to develop a prototype that they tested one month later in the early part of 2020.

For years, I idly suggested that baseball ought to use technology to allow pitchers and catchers to communicate. Frankly, I envisioned something pretty much exactly like this. The only problem, of course, is that I didn’t actually do anything with that idea.

This Hat Should Not Exist

Don't junk up a good logo with 30 other logos.

Recently, I saw someone wearing this hat:

An MLB hat, with the logos of all 30 MLB teams strewn about

In a word: Why? I’m fairly certain that the wearer was not Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred, the only person I can think of for whom this awful hat might make sense.

I’m also completely certain it was not another Rob, Rob Lowe, who is rather infamous for once wearing a ridiculous “NFL” hat:

Rob Lowe wearing a hat that just says “NFL”

No, this was a common man, wearing a thankfully uncommon hat for reasons I can’t comprehend. It would be strange to simply be a fan of baseball, without some allegiance to a particular team. But even in that weird case, the MLB has a fantastic logo, one which has influenced the logos of many other American sports leagues:

A much more attractive hat with just the MLB logo”

That’s a good looking hat! There is simply no reason to junk it up by festooning 30 disparate logos on it all willy-nilly.

Previously in terrible MLB hats: Those Are Some Bad Hats, New Era