Crowd Participation: Would You Rather Allow The Game-Winning Home Run Or Make The Game-Losing Error?

New York Mets v Chicago Cubs

A few months ago, you were asked if you would rather be crossed over or dunked on. The response, as on all things TSFJ, was more than expected, leaving no doubt that the first edition of Crowd Participation provided comedy as well as food for thought.

Now, considering that the unofficial second half of the MLB season begins today, it’s time to bring the debate to the diamond.

Think back to your time in Little League or those all-day affairs you had with your friends, when every kid with the bat in her or his hand tried her or his best Ken Griffey Jr. impressions. Think of that time you struck out the one kid you couldn’t stand because he called his shot every time you pitched. Think about the time you robbed your older brother of a double out on that muddy left field (and you might have had on a perfectly white shirt until you went for the ball). And reminisce over the one home run you ever hit in your career – mine was just over the “short porch” right field fence in the little kiddie playground back in ’93.

Triumphant times, right? Well, baseball is the most humbling game in all of sports, and unless Miguel Cabrera is reading this (what up), it’s probably not a stretch to say that those great moments were brief flashes for a few and happy accidents for the rest of us.

Considering that a bulk of the most faux pas in baseball happen on the field or on the mound rather than in the batter’s box, today’s Crowd Participation eliminates some of the soul-crushing moments such as looking at the greatest curveball in your life pass you by or whiffing at a pitch you had no business swinging at.

In this case, really think about it: Would you rather allow the game-winning home run or have the error that essentially lost the game?

Allowing the Home Run: The dream scenario in baseball is bottom of the ninth with two outs and a full count. It’s Game 7 of the World Series, folks have laid egregious sports bets, and the world is watching the best reliever in the game going against the best hitter on the planet.

Now, get that cliché out of your head because here’s the reality. You’re 13 years old and playing with the homies, but all of you are getting serious about trying to get on some high school or AAU squad. Like your friends, you play multiple positions, and on this day, it’s your turn on the mound instead of third base. It’s the ninth inning or something like it since the sunset is the real sign of when this game ends. You do know the game is tied, though, and this is the last at-bat.

Your catcher calls for a sinker, knowing that the hitter thinks he can hit bad pitches like Vladimir Guerrero, but can’t. You shake him off while rotating the ball between your fingers. The catcher’s not happy because he knows you don’t have a full repertoire of pitches yet. In fact, all you can throw well are fastballs, so he’s trying to give the hitter a different look within your limitations. At 13, you aren’t supposed to throw curves yet, though you’re tempted. Your arm is getting real tired, so chances are that you’re not going to risk much. The speed’s not there this late, but instead of listening to your battery mate, you set up for a two-seam fastball.

The catcher makes the sinker signal again, and you shake him off. You change your own mind, though, and in infinite stubbornness, you set up for what seems to be the 2000th four-seamer you’ve thrown today. “Yo, shut up, man. I can get one more past him, watch!” you say to the catcher in your head.

Despite the setting sun, it’s still hot, you’re thirsty and you can’t stop sweating from all the work you put in today. So now, here you go. Two outs, 2-1 count and the score might be 5-5. Your windup starts. That front elbow and knee are perpendicular as if raising your arm lifted your leg simultaneously. Both come down with force, and you uncork the ball with every ounce of power left.


Congratulations, you're Brad Lidge! You’ve won jokes at your expense for a full week! The catcher calls you all sorts of names that can’t be said in front of your parents. In fact, like the great Jack Parkman, this is how he feels about you.

Should have listened to him.

Making the Game-Losing Error: Here’s the thing about having a glove; it’s completely useless if your body isn’t where it’s supposed to be. You could have a gun like Troy Tulowitzki or the reach like Adam LaRoche, but if you’re out of position, you’re out of luck.

Your team is up a run with a base runner on second with one out.  Two more outs until you can have a few victory drinks! In your head, you’re sort of celebrating because the hitter doesn’t have much power, and you’re out in left anyway. Anticipating something that doesn’t get past the dirt isn’t terrible thinking until he takes one swing. The bat makes that sound. You know, the good contact sound where the ball hits the sweet spot and retreats from the bat with perfect speed and nearly good air.

Oh wait, only the pitcher, first baseman, second baseman, shortstop, third baseman, catcher, center fielder and right fielder heard that sound. You were too busy counting the sunflower seed shells you’ve accumulated all game long. The entire team and crowd are watching the ball come towards you, so being late to the show, you jump into action. The ball is on the descent as you take off running. Spikes are tearing through the grass as you spring towards the exact spot the ball will land. For some reason, you call off the center fielder though he didn’t have a play on the ball.

All you, homie.

The baseball falls like your physics teacher told you it would a long time ago in class. It may have slowed down in speed and velocity, but since the air isn’t very humid and there’s no wind, that thing is going to fall a lot sooner than you originally thought. Realizing this, you dive head first into the ground. Sliding straight forward, your arm outstretched and glove as open as it can be, the ball …

hits your shoulder.

It bounces off of you like a Slinky from the first step, dribbles onto the grass and rolls behind you. The tying run makes it home and our hitter can’t believe his luck, so he races towards second base. You leave the remnants of pride on the grass, pick yourself up, grab the ball and make an attempt to pick him off at third base. No dice, the throw is short.

Guess who pays for the sorrow drinks?

Time to choose your embarrassment.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *