MLB's oddest moments of 2016: Picking the year's 10 strangest plays
- From Bartolo Colon's first ever home run to an inadvertent cup check on Dansby Swanson to a truly awful disguise from Theo Epstein, here are the 10 weirdest moments from a 2016 season full of them.
Every baseball season has its share of weird moments, from bloopers in the field to antics in the dugout to stuff we've never seen before. The 2016 season was no exception, gifting us with some truly bizarre plays and decisions across the league. From Chicago to San Diego and from rookies to 20-year veterans, let's take a look back at the 10 strangest moments from the year.
No. 10: Greinke hits, Shelby Miller plays the field for Diamondbacks
This late April affair between the Diamondbacks and Pirates saw some pitcher shenanigans featuring Zack Greinke, who was sent to the plate as a pinch-hitter in the 12th inning of a 12–10 game with his team trailing and shorthanded in extras. Greinke singled—with a runner on, no less—then was replaced by fellow starter Shelby Miller, who took over as a pinch-runner and eventually scored the tying run. That seemed to be the end of the weirdness, but since shortstop Nick Ahmed was ejected in that same inning for arguing balls and strikes, manager Chip Hale had to shuffle around his players and ended up putting Miller in leftfield for the 13th, where he was forced to make a play on a double off the wall. To make matters even stranger? Pirates pitcher Jon Niese also pinch hit, cracking an RBI single in the 13th (fielded by Miller in left) to give Pittsburgh an insurance run. All told, the Diamondbacks ended up sending three pitchers to the plate in extras, including starter Patrick Corbin and Miller as the final two outs of the game.
No. 9: Rockies, Cardinals engage in endless national anthem standoff
The national anthem standoff is somewhat common in baseball; we see a pretty good one from time to time, and it lasts maybe a minute. It’s not very often that they delay the start of a game like the Rockies’ Carlos Estevez and the Cardinals’ Jose Martinez did in late September. The two were out there for so long that their teammates gave them a catcher’s mask and a first-base coach’s helmet, respectively, in case any batted balls came their way. Eventually, umpires broke up the standoff, but let the record show that it was Estevez who moved first.
No. 8: Jose Ramirez gets the assist, over and over and over
This one is just purely weird: In a late June game against the Tigers, Indians infielder Jose Ramirez had a ground ball hit to him six straight times! After the first three, Cleveland’s announcers seemed to think it was pretty cool. After four, it started getting strange. After six, it was a comedy act.
No. 7: Bryce Harper helps a ball go to the bathroom
Few moments this season were more aesthetically pleasing than Harper’s home run into the Phillies’ bullpen bathroom. Not only did the Nationals’ star make perfect contact and launch a long dinger to right to give Washington the lead in extras, but the ball also flew cleanly into the restroom on a hop. Watch the video, and wait for the footage from the Phillies’ broadcast of the ball taking a leak. This might be the most under-appreciated moment of the year.
No. 6: Jose Altuve falls short of a cycle—literally
There are many ways to fall just short of a cycle, but no one has ever done it quite as literally as Altuve did. Facing the Royals in late June and with a single, double and home run already to his name, Altuve ripped a line drive to left-centerfield in the sixth. He looked to have the elusive triple easily, only he tripped over his own helmet (which had flown off his head as he rounded first base) as he got to second and fell, losing his place in history.
At least he still won MV—oh, wait, shoot. Sorry, Jose.
No 5. Theo Epstein fools no one with his fake mustache
Who says Theo Epstein isn’t a man of the people? Before the Cubs’ president of baseball operations ate some roasted goat to celebrate the Cubs’ first World Series victory in 108 years, he took in a game at Wrigley Field from a popular place: the outfield bleachers. The day after the Cubs clinched the National League Central, Epstein—along with other members of the team’s front office—showed up for a Friday matinee in September sporting a (horribly) fake mustache, a blue cap pulled down low and a Cubs t-shirt. He even downed a hot dog. After the game, Epstein told reporters that his disguise was part of an attempt to “enjoy the real Wrigley Field—sit out there, feel the breeze and be amongst the fans, have a beer.” Mission accomplished, it looks like.
No 4. Carlos Beltran joins the discount Hair Club for Men
Baseball fans got a bit of a surprise in late August, when Rangers outfielder Carlos Beltran popped off his cap in the dugout to reveal a hairstyle made entirely out of what looked like black marker ink. The grizzled Beltran has shaved his head without issue for years, so his new ‘do was pretty jarring. The next day, his head was clean again, and life went on. The bizarre choice was explained a few weeks later, when it was revealed that Beltran had covered his head in eye black to make fun of second baseman Rougned Odor, who apparently gets kidded regularly by his teammates about his thinning hair.
No. 3: Dansby Swanson takes a ball to the Swansons
This moment was perfectly Braves: Their top prospect, shortstop Dansby Swanson, had to leave a September game against the Marlins in the fourth inning because catcher Tyler Flowers overthrew the mound on a warmup toss and hit him right in the groin.
To make matters worse: The young infielder wasn’t wearing any protection when he took one to the crotch. Swanson didn’t end up missing any time because of the inadvertent cup check, and he learned a valuable lesson about safeguarding the family jewels in the process.
No. 2: Trevor Bauer fought the drone, and the drone won
Nothing screams ‘baseball injury’ like a player missing a start because of a gash on his finger caused by a drone. That was the case for Indians starter Trevor Bauer, who had to have his ALCS start pushed back because he cut his right pinky finger trying to repair his flying contraption, which he actually designed himself. Bauer played it off cool, bringing the drone to his press conference days later, but his finger wouldn’t stop bleeding during his Game 3 start against the Blue Jays, and he had to be yanked in the first inning. Cleveland’s bullpen picked up his slack in the win, and Bauer would pitch again in the playoffs, starting Games 2 and 5 of the World Series, but I’m sure he’d love to go back in time and put on some gloves to avoid the injury in the first place.
No. 1: 42-year-old Bartolo Colon goes deep for first time ever
You read that right: A 42-year-old hit his first career home run in 2016. Colon enjoyed his first ever trot around the bases (and I mean enjoyed—it took around a minute and a half) on May 8 against the Padres after the Mets’ veteran righty took Padres starter James Shields deep to left for a 365-foot jack, becoming the oldest player in history to hit his first career homer. It was one of the most-talked about plays of the season, and one of Sports Illustrated’s moments of the year—as well as the weirdest of a season full of odd moments.