These are the five best ways to walk off a game
The BBQ's Best 5 is exactly what it sounds like: Each week, we'll pick a category around the world of baseball and talk about the five best things within that group. Today, we're taking a look at the Best 5 types of walk-offs.
There's nothing quite like a team springing over a dugout railing to celebrate a walk-off like a pack of horses released from the opening gates at the Kentucky Derby. It's when we get to see baseball men morph back into joyous baseball children as they playfully mob the walk-off hero.
But while all walk-offs are captivating moments of heightened intensity, not all are created equal. Some walk-offs -- whether due to their bizarre suddenness, building excitement or total improbability -- stand above the pack.
Here are our five favorite types of baseball walk-offs:
5. The Walk-Off Sac Fly (With A Bang-Bang Play At The Plate)
This play is the baseball equivalent of watching a human cannonball. As the ball floats toward the outfielder's mitt, time freezes for an instant while everyone invested in the action ponders whether or not the runner on third will test fate. Then bang! The ball smacks leather, and the runner races for home.
In the wonderfully rare instance where ball and runner arrive at their shared destination simultaneously, the result is often a showdown of dexterity between the catcher and his counterpart. Getting to see the runner emerge victorious in this one-on-one baseball ballet is such a scintillating baseball occurrence.
4. The Walk-Off Balk
A walk-off balk most commonly happens when a super intense moment causes a pitcher to lose focus for an instant, leading to one of baseball's most abrupt and confusing situations.
It always takes a few seconds for everyone in the stadium to realize what's going on, and the result is a gradual cheer of happiness rather than a sudden blast of it. Also, the winning team never really knows who it should celebrate around: the runner who just scored, but did relatively little, or the batter who just stood there menacingly until the pitcher flinched by accident.
3. The Walk-Off Suicide Squeeze
It's important to make a distinction between a walk-off suicide squeeze and a walk-off safety squeeze. While still quite swell, a walk-off safety squeeze -- which the Tigers actually pulled off earlier this year -- is much less risky than a suicide squeeze, because it doesn't require the runner on third to break toward home before the pitch is thrown.
A true walk-off suicide squeeze is a crazy move, but it looks so awesome when someone actually pulls it off:
2. The Walk-Off Inside-The-Park-Homer
Also known as the "Tyler Naquin," the walk-off inside-the-parker is baseball's version of the Daytona 500.
As soon as the ball bounds away from the outfielder, the crowd sees the hitter's mad dash around the bases and leaps to its feet. These plays are great for that very reason: the excitement crescendos while the player races his way around the bases before reaching an incredible apex once the player slides safely into home.
1. The Walk-Off Grand Slam (While Trailing by Three Runs)
This has only happened 26 times in the Majors since 1925. Fittingly, the first ever player to pull this off was Babe Ruth, who knocked a bases-loaded tater against the White Sox in September of 1925. The most recent was Steve Pearce, who did it last season against the Angels:
The pinnacle of this category are those that come with two outs in extra innings. This has only happened twice ever, the second time being this insanely ridiculous Ryan Roberts dinger from 2011, in which the D-backs scored six runs in the bottom of the 10th after the Dodgers put up five in the top half.
Snatching victory from the jaws of defeat, flipping the tables when everyone least expects it -- this is the type of moment that everyone dreams about as a kid in their backyard and is definitely our preferred way for a baseball game to end.
What are yours? Tweet them at us @CespedesBBQ and @Cut4