What was the top MLB blooper of 2021?

Only the finest gaffes, whoops and uh-ohs from the year

November 15th, 2021

We love the big plays -- the home runs that soar through the air on an angel's wing, the pitches that light up radar guns and turn catcher's mitts to smoke. We love diving plays that defy expectations and the big moments that will live on for decades.

But if I'm being honest with you, my favorite plays are not those. My favorites are the bloopers, the whoopsies, the how-in-the-world-did-that-happen moments? I don't know what it's like to hit a baseball 400 feet -- heck, in Little League I hardly ever made contact at all -- but I do know what it's like to trip in a crowded room with a tray of coffee in my hands. The blooper is what happens when these superhero ballplayers become mortal for just a minute.

After an amazing 2021 season, one filled with highlights and history, wonder and whimsy, it's time to get silly and look at the 10 best bloopers of 2021. Enjoy -- and try not to trip over your own feet.

10. (Tie) Adam Duvall and Ke'Bryan Hayes lose some home runs

After being taught that you swing a bat at a pitched ball, one of the very first things you learn next is that a) you have to step on every base as you pass it and b) you cannot pass your teammate on the basepaths.

Unfortunately, even big leaguers sometimes fail at following this straightforward guideline. But, hey -- we've all sometimes gotten out of the shower, forgetting if we remembered to use soap ... right?

The rookie Hayes forgot to touch first base during his June 8 "home run" -- becoming the first player to miss first on a home run since June 17, 1983, when Al Cowens did the same. The only difference? Cowens was going for an inside-the-park job, so he needed to hustle a little more.

Meanwhile, soon-to-be World Series champion Adam Duvall had his homer converted back into a single when he passed his teammate on the basepaths due to some confusion about if the ball actually went over the wall.

Guys -- fundamentals!

9. Edmundo Sosa's ripped pants

I'm not sure what the best part of Sosa's unfortunate flap is. Could it be Cubs shortstop Sergio Alcántara, who can't stop laughing?

Is it the hilarious look on the umpire's face as the Cardinals trainer and former manager Mike Shildt come out for a peek behind Sosa?

Or is it simply that we've all had this very specific nightmare of ripping our pants in front of 40,000 people?

8. Hanser Alberto loses the ball in the sun

While the sun may provide us light and life here on Earth, it is also a tricky devil designed to turn easy fly-ball outs into hilarious, gut-busting hits. Just ask Hanser Alberto.

The Royals infielder was all camped out and ready to snag Rougned Odor's infield popup on June 24. But after he lost the ball in the sun, he covered his head and fled from the scene.

Even better, though: Alberto was wearing his sunglasses "Guy Fieri-style," which means they were resting on the back of his head.


7. Kole Calhoun loses to a fan

There are, supposedly, four main types of conflict: Person vs. self, person vs. person, person vs. society and person vs. nature. What this presupposes is, what if there's a fifth: Person vs. fan?

Kole Calhoun was obviously not thrilled that he lost out on a foul ball to a precocious, glove-carrying youngster, but even the outfielder had to admit that it was kinda cool.

6. Rob Refsnyder learns the dimensions of Camden Yards

OK, class, time for a physics lesson: What happens when an unstoppable object meets an immovable force?

The Twins outfielder learned that the hard way when Orioles slugger Ryan Mountcastle went deep on May 31:

The best way to learn is through repetition and so, enjoy. Perhaps, like how well a rich cabernet pairs with a steak, you may get the most enjoyment by syncing this up with the opening of Passion Pit's "Sleepyhead." "And everything is going to the beat ..."

5. Joey Gallo pays for his hubris

Gallo walks a lot. It's one of his best skills, along with crushing home runs and being Joey from the Bronx. But Gallo had to pay dearly when he turned his stroll to first base into a run.

When Gerrit Cole's pitch went to the backstop, Gallo saw his opportunity. He tried to race around first base, tripped and then had to crawl back to the safety of the bag -- fortunate to still be safe, even if his dignity was no longer intact.

His Rangers teammates made sure to cordon off the area the next day, lest anyone else take a similar fall. OSHA would be proud.

4. Brock Holt's eephus of all eephuses (eephusi?)

Too often we take it for granted that a human being can even throw a fastball 90-something miles per hour. So, it was pretty endearing when beloved utility player Brock Holt came out to pitch against the A's on Aug. 7 and started tossing up some real eephus pitches.

Forget Zack Greinke's slowest curves or even the floatiest of knuckleballs, Holt's eephus barely broke 30 mph. His tosses looked more like the end of "Rookie of the Year," when Henry Rowengartner unleashes "The Floater."

Even better, Holt managed to pitch a scoreless inning. Guys who have trained their entire lives and have weaponized their hand-eye coordination to destroy baseballs ... all of a sudden can't touch a pitch that wouldn't get ticketed in a school zone. Baseball's weird, man.

3. Kyle Schwarber plays for the crowd

Schwarber is a lot of things: Slugger, Cubs curse-breaking hero, talented a capella singer. But, despite his very best efforts, defense isn't exactly his strong suit -- especially as he had to learn first base on the fly for the Red Sox (a position that Ron Washington reminded us in "Moneyball" is "incredibly hard").

Facing the Rays in the ALDS, Schwarber flubbed a routine play at first. Hey, it happens, no big deal.

What made this blooper sublime is how Schwarber responded on the next play.

After successfully flipping the ball to first on his next opportunity, Schwarber used all of his training in the theatrical arts to celebrate before the crowd. This is also how I'm going to commemorate every typo-free email I write.

2. Luis Robert uses his head

Nicknamed "La Pantera" -- The Panther -- Robert is pure excitement on the field. His bat is a whip that lashes balls around the park, his legs create excitement every time he's on the basepaths and his head ... well, his head is very hard and an excellent launching pad for baseballs to bounce off of.

1. The Pirates forget how to baseball

We all knew it was going to be the blooper of the year the moment it happened. It was a play practically screaming for its own feature-length "30 for 30" documentary. Ten-hour YouTube reels where the play simply loops hour after hour may still not be enough to get my fill.

How to even begin? On May 27, Javier Báez hit a grounder to third base. Simple enough. But when first baseman Will Craig received the toss, he didn't just step on the bag, which would have ended the inning. Instead, he started following Báez back toward the plate, as if he were in a pickle. That allowed Willson Contreras to come around from second to score. Then, when Báez actually ran to first, the throw went wild and the then-Cubs shortstop wound up on second.

This is what happens when baseball just ... breaks. The Pirates broadcast of the play is something special:

As for the Cubs? Well, they had a lot of fun with it. I hope you did, too.