A Season Recap of the Little League Home Run

The World Series can be a stressful time for a lot of folks. It can be stressful for friends, family and players of the two teams involved, because every pitch seems like the most important pitch of the year. It can be stressful for writers, because we’ve got to find something interesting from each game and come up with a unique take on it in a very short amount of time. And it can be stressful for fans of other teams, because they wish it was their team playing in the World Series.

But that’s over now, and we’re on to the offseason, which is about as sad as the World Series is stressful, because there won’t be any more major league baseball played for several months. ๐Ÿ™

In these sad, stressful times for baseball fans, I’d like to start the offseason with something fun: the little league homer. Alex Gordon nearly did it to tie game seven of the World Series with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning. Had he scored, it would have been one of the greatest moments in World Series history. However, he was wisely held up at third base. But there were 18 other players during the regular season who weren‘t held at third base, after the defense kicked the ball around for a little while, and came home to score.

Rather than show you all 18 little league homers, I watched film of them all and selected the six most representative of little league play, along with a choice quote from one of the broadcasters. The first clip is the only instance, to my knowledge, of a player being thrown out while trying to stretch a little league homer this season. The other five are ranked, in descending order, by the value of various postgame “team snacks” received as a child when playing little league. Do not debate with me on this. The snack list is final.

The Participation Award

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Choice quote: “Well, a lot happened on that play, and not much of it was very good.”

Little league was chock-full of participation awards. There were an abundance of kids who were terrible, but you couldn’t just tell them, “You’re terrible.” Instead, you gave them a phony award that let them know, pretty clearly, that they were terrible. When a kid excels at something, you give them trophies to recognize their excellence. When a kid fails miserably at something, you ignore their failure and simply recognize them for their existence as a human on this earth. It’s literally the least a kid can possibly do – exist – yet we still reward them for it. That’s pretty much Dioner Navarro on this play. Good try, Dioner! Almost had it. Keep existing, bud.

Don’t mind Dioner. He’s just trying to have a good time.

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So are his teammates. They enjoy the fact that he exists.

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The Granola Bar

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Choice quote: “Look at the effort if he picks it up there. Or there. Or there.”

The granola bar is a good snack. Solid snack. Probably my go-to snack, actually, now that I’m something of a functioning adult. As a kid, it sucked. I just got done chasing a baseball around the outfield in this brutal summer heat and now you want me to eat oats and grains? Oats?! F**k oats. Give me something purple that’s laced with artificial grape flavoring, and give it to me quick. I’ve got some Crash Bandicoot to get to on my state-of-the-art Sony PlayStation gaming console. Someone told George Springer before this inning that he had to eat oats after the game was over, and it screwed him up bad. Denard Span was going to have a triple either way, but Springer gave him an extra base with a weird divefall and a complete lack of hand-eye coordination. F**k oats.

The Fruit Roll-Up

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Choice quote 1: “So, Raburn missed it, and then he threw it to the invisible man standing in left field.”

Choice quote 2: “No idea what happened to Raburn. Unless heโ€™s hurt.”

Not only does that second quote summarize the thoughts of Indians fans towards Ryan Raburn all year long following his excellent 2013 season, it also kind of mirrors my thoughts as a youth when receiving a couple Fruit Roll-Ups after a game. “No idea why you went with Fruit Roll-Ups. Unless you ran out of time.” Fruit Roll-Ups are tasty and contain artificial flavoring, which is really all any kid wants, but they just seem lazy. Fruit Roll-Ups are the snack that comes from the mom who has way too much on her plate, thanks to overzealous volunteering commitments, and totally forgets she signed up for snack duty this week.

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At the last second, while frantically loading her two children and their little brat friends into the Honda Odyssey to head down to the ballpark, she grabs a handful of Fruit Roll-Ups out of the pantry and spikes them into a plastic bag, similar to how Ryan Raburn spiked this ball into the dirt at Kauffman Stadium.

The Rice Krispie Treat

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Choice quote: *maniacal laughter* … long pause … “You don’t see that every day.”

The Rice Krispie Treat is a step up from the Fruit Roll-Up because it shows some dedication – especially if homemade. Only problem is, the Rice Krispie Treat does not do well in heat after seven innings, eight walks and 11 errors. Around the second or third inning, there would be whispers around the dugout that Rice Krispie Treats were the rumored postgame snack. Everyone would get their hopes up after the previous day’s granola bar debacle, only to be let down by a melted, gooey amoeba of marshmellowy cereal.

When the ball came off the bat, Giancarlo Stanton was that kid in the third inning. Whether it be a solid, tasty Rice Krispie Treat or a nice play at the wall, Stanton had high hopes. Until:

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By the time the play was over, Giancarlo Stanton had marshmellow goo all over the front of his shirt, and his mom was pissed. “I knew I should have just brought granola.”

The Little Debbie Snack Cakes

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Choice quote: “The Nationals make a mess of it, and the Marlins get a run!”

The Little Debbie Snack Cake was almost as good as it gets. They were delicious, they held up better in heat than Rice Krispies, and they offered variety! Just like this play, you never knew what you were going to get. Sometimes you’d get Zebra Cakes, just like how sometimes Denard Span overthrows his cutoff man. Sometimes you’d get Oatmeal Creme Pies, just like how sometimes Adam LaRoche forgets he’s supposed to actually back up errant throws. Sometimes you’d get Cosmic Brownies, just like how sometimes Jordan Zimmermann makes bad throws that don’t need to be made at all. And sometimes, just sometimes, you’d get all the different Little Debbie snack cakes in one cooler, just like how sometimes the Nationals make all these mistakes in the same play.

The Ice Cream Cone

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Choice quote: “The Brewers look like a team who can go find a park to play at on a Sunday afternoon and not get paid to do it.”

A wise friend of mine, who I’m still close with to this day, once uttered the most legendary quote of my little league baseball career. “Baseball is the gateway to ice cream,” he said. At the time, truer words had never been spoken. You didn’t just get ice cream, you earned ice cream. Ice cream only came after an exciting win. The all-too-fired-up coach would exclaim, “Let’s all get ice cream!” The kids would rejoice and the parents, who were already concerned about their child’s obesity and just didn’t have time for this shit, would be furious. Ice cream was the holy grail of a hot summer afternoon after a few hours spent romping around the ol’ diamond. And this play is the holy grail of the little league homer. You’ve got a ground ball which shouldn’t have left the infield, you’ve got multiple errors, you’ve got a reactionary throw and you’ve got a big boy of a catcher panting at home plate after having run all the way around the bases.

Go get yourself some ice cream, Wilin Rosario.





August used to cover the Indians for MLB and ohio.com, but now he's here and thinks writing these in the third person is weird. So you can reach me on Twitter @AugustFG_ or e-mail at august.fagerstrom@fangraphs.com.

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KJ
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KJ

This seems pretty NotGraphs-y for a site without NotGraphs.

#KeepNotGraphs
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#KeepNotGraphs

SSSSHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Don’t tell the Daves!

Well-Beered Englishman
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What you’re saying is it’s excellent!

KJ
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KJ

Well, it could have been a little more existential, but yes.