Thursday, May 29, 2008

My baseball thought of the day: Rick Ankiel's throws against Colorado

Just a brief pointer to something most baseball fans have already seen a little while ago-- the two throws outfielder Rick Ankiel made on May 6 against the Colorado Rockies. The video of it is here. The first throw is solid; the second is the best throw I've ever seen. The only throw that comes to mind that would be comparable is the Mays' catch and throw off the bat of Vic Wertz in Game 1 of the 1954 World Series, but I think that's known more for the catch and throw as a whole, the circumstances (tied in the 8th inning of a World Series game), and the ultimate result of the entire play (keeping the runner from scoring the go ahead run). Strictly on the basis of the throw, I've got to give it to Rick Ankiel. (New to me upon checking the play-by-play of that game: Wertz was 4-for-5 that day, his only out being the famous Mays catch.) I know Ichiro made a well-known throw against Oakland early in 2001, but was sprinting in on a single and did not throw the ball as far. Ankiel was sprinting away from 3rd base.

I did some rough calculations based on the dimensions of Coors Field in Colorado for the second throw; conservatively, I put it at 335 feet in the air.

Absolutely incredible. This video gets the TPS Seal of Approval.


Anonymous said...

In addition to the ones you already mentioned (Ankiel, Ichiro and Mays), here are some more gems:

-Kansas City's Bo Jackson threw out Harold Reynolds at the plate in the 10th inning of a game in Seattle June 5, 1989. Reynolds was on first and running with the pitch when Scott Bradley doubled to left and everyone assumed the game was over. Reynolds, rounding third, was surprised when he saw a teammate signaling slide and stunned when he saw catcher Bob Boone holding the ball. Jackson had unleashed a flatfooted throw from the wall on a fly to get him. The Royals won in 13 innings.

-Vladimir Guerrero is at the top of several players' unbelievable-throws lists. This one from St. Louis' Jason Isringhausen: While with the Expos on June 3, 1997, Guerrero threw a one-bounce strike from the right-field corner at Shea to nail New York's Todd Hundley, running from first with two outs, on Carlos Baerga's double down the line.

-Roger Maris in the ninth inning of Game 7 of the 1962 World Series. This one requires an asterisk. Maris' play on Willie Mays' double to right with two out prevented Matty Alou from scoring the tying run from first. His scramble to cut the ball off before it bounced to the wall was really the better part of the play, but his lightning-quick, off-balance relay throw to cutoff man Bobby Richardson completed the game-saving gem.

-Dave Parker's two assists from right field in the 1979 All-Star Game gained him the evening's MVP award. In the seventh, he threw out Jim Rice at third trying to stretch a double and in the eighthgunned down Brian Downing trying to score from second on Graig Nettles' two-out single, keying the National League's 7-6 victory. Downing got an excellent jump on Nettles' hit, but the charging Parker came up throwing and fired a BB to catcher Gary Carter, who blocked the plate beautifully.

-Pittsburgh's Roberto Clemente possessed one of the best arms in history, but one of his most renowned throws came on a play in which the runner was safe. In Game 2 of the 1971 World Series, he ran down Frank Robinson's fly to deep right, spun around and threw a strike to third base to try to get Merv Rettenmund tagging up. Rettenmund just beat the tag in what should have been a routine advance.

Anonymous said...

I forgot this one:

-Jose Guillen, then with the Pittsburgh Pirates, let loose with a dart from the base of the right-field wall in Coors Field to throw out Neifi Perez trying for a triple on July 27, 1998. The throw, on a fly to third baseman Keith Osik, is estimated to have traveled 360 feet.

rolub said...

There are "several players' unbelievable-throws lists".

Well... don't hide them, let's see em!

For what it's worth, I've seen most of these outfield assists mentioned and in my opinion, nothing comes close to Ankiel's second toss.

Anonymous said...

While Ankiel's throw is SIMPLY amazing, you've got to remember that balls carry further when hit at Coors Field, and they likewise carry further when thrown! Bo Jackson's throw out of a LIGHTENING QUICK Harold Reynolds, is still the most amzing throw I've EVER seen, from across a VERY SHORT SPAN, the greatest baseball player I've ever seen,(over 50 years of watching!), during any 3 years of a ballplayers career!!

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