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Ryan McMahon Steals Home, A Tale of Ruins

Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Saturday night, I was at a wedding in Washington, DC. The bride was a Nationals fan and the groom was a Phillies fan. The band played “Dancing on My Own,” and the groom’s friends continued to sing well after the band stopped playing. I had just met the happy couple a few times, but due to a last-second exchange and the awkwardness of the venue’s layout, I ended up sitting right in front of the area where everyone was making their speeches. And I mean immediately in front of it. I was so close that I kept crouching down in my seat so the back of my head wouldn’t ruin all the pictures. I was so close that I had to alternate between looking down at the table and looking over whoever was talking and out the window, because I honestly thought that eye contact at that distance would be too distracting for someone trying to convey a heartfelt message of love. If not, here’s what they would see whenever they downplay their speech:

I realize that I feel uncomfortable every time I walk into a room, but on Saturday, the room met me in the middle.

It wasn’t long before the bride’s father recounted the time he cried, all those years ago, when he was on a business trip and called his pregnant wife on a pay phone at the Atlanta airport, only to find that they would get little. Girl, I started to vibrate. Suddenly, my phone rang.

Needless to say, I couldn’t reach into my pocket and start scrolling then. I had to wait until all the wonderful people had finished wishing the beautiful couple a long life filled with love, laughter, and happiness. The answer was worth the wait.

On June 5th, I wrote about the Kutina Club of Persistently Unsuccessful Basestealers. This special team is named after first baseman Joe Kutina, who stole zero bases in seven games in 1912. Acknowledge all players caught stealing at least four times during the season without successfully swiping the bag. At the time, McMahon was leading the major leagues with a brilliant 0-for-4 game that featured the old man caught stealing, two pickoffs, and one stolen base that rolled over when replay showed his cleat came off the bag. a nanosecond. Not only was McMahon in line to join the Kutina Club, he was very close to becoming its manager. Joe Coscarart went 0-for-11 in 1936, while McMahon was on pace to be caught 10.8 times.

Even if he didn’t want the record, all he had to do to get his membership card and a cool embroidered jacket was to stay until the end of the season. Instead, McMahon not only stole his first base of the season, he stole home! That’s the hardest base to steal, since catchers like to squat behind it in their big yards, and pitchers like to throw their pitches directly to catchers, and when catchers try to catch would-be basesteals at home plate, they tend to lay up. pop times in the area of ​​0.00 seconds. The next morning, I saw how McMahon pulled it off: With help from Pittsburgh catcher Yasmani Grandal. Grandal, it turns out, is a softie.

We already have a term for when a defense concedes a stolen base: defensive negligence. We may need a new category for this game: apathetic defense, which describes when the outfielder doesn’t care not just about the runner’s progress, but the very concept of defense itself. Maybe defensive negligence would be more accurate, but still, this is one of the easiest home burglaries you’ll ever see. Grandal has been throwing the ball to the pitcher’s back like every game. When McMahon reached third, Granal took a quick look at the runner before throwing him back, but his lollipops were as soft as ever. I actually continued to make time for him.

From the time the ball left Grandal’s hand until it hit Jared Jones’ glove, 1.86 seconds passed. Even with a 19th percentile sprint speed, that was too slow for McMahon to stop him and waltz home. To be clear, this was not entirely Grandal’s fault. McMahon was able to take a big lead without being penalized because Ke’Bryan Hayes was shadowed to the point of being short and didn’t seem to get in on him. The side angle tells the story brilliantly. Here’s the moment a pitch hit Grand’s mitt.

McMahon was a solid 20 to 25 feet from the bag, but he could go very far. Hayes was so far from the bag that he’s not even in the frame. McMahon’s lead was so big that the home and away games were dwindling before Jones left the field, but none of the Pirates showed the least bit of concern. Maybe someone told them about the Kutina Club, or maybe McMahon just wanted out of it. McMahon gave a little deke back to third base when Grandal looked down the base, but perhaps the most embarrassing part of the story is that he started running well before Grandal threw the ball. Here’s what it looks like from the moment it leaves the catcher’s hand.

McMahon is already in full swing. Hayes walks too far from third base. Only the home plate umpire saw that the outcome was about to change.

In terms of effective velocity, ignoring the arc Grandal placed on the ball and measuring only how long it took him to cover the distance of 60 feet, 6 inches from home plate to the mound, he went 22.2 mph. For reference, there have only been nine balls hit between 22 and 23 mph this season, and seven of them have been bunts.

From the time Grandal released the ball, it took McMahon just 2.43 seconds to touch home plate. Jones knew home plate belonged to McMahon long before he caught the world’s saddest Hail Mary. Here’s a GIF showing the timing of Grandal’s release, when the ball comes up, and when it hits Jones’ glove. You can’t even call it a tragedy in three acts. It is a game where the hero is stabbed in the first act, and then plays the second and third times only to bleed to death.

A few minutes later, Pirates radio noted that third baseman Warren Schaeffer snuck up on McMahon before the infield, whispering that home plate was open. However, when they played the replay, he didn’t seem to say anything. All the video showed was Schaeffer moving toward McMahon as he tried to chew a Jeep Cherokee-sized piece of gum.

I’m not sure Schaeffer could have said anything to McMahon if he wanted to. He looked exactly like my little brother did when he was 8 and put an entire bag of Big League Chew in his mouth. Perhaps Schaeffer’s ramblings represent some kind of non-verbal cue — he was wearing a faint smile at the end of the clip — but if Schaeffer had given McMahon an earful in the form of a speech, it would probably have come out something like this, “Roo feels happy.”

The most amazing part of this whole ordeal is that the next time the Rockies got a man in scoring position – which was the very next inning – Grandal hadn’t learned from his mistake at all. Here he is throwing the ball behind the pitcher. It’s still a lob! The ball still travels so high that it leaves the frame completely! One inning later! What are we doing here?

With that, McMahon was out of the Kutina club. In addition, he led a great exodus. The list below is from my original article on June 5. It shows all five players who had at least two steals and no steals at all during that time.

Empty Thieves (From June 5)

Jeimer Candelario stole two bases the next day. Nick Senzel stole a base the next day, and Brendan Donovan stole one a week later. That leaves Justin Turner and Nick Martini (who had his second caught stealing on Monday) as the last players to be caught twice without stealing a base. We will have to wait until the end of the year to find out if they finally join the team. However, McMahon is now in a slightly less exclusive club.

I was curious how many players finished the season in McMahon’s position, the only steals coming in stolen home runs. This is a tricky thing to search for, so I reached out to Katie Sharp of Stathead, who kindly answered the question and found 183 players and 189 player seasons that met these criteria. The roster includes legends like Joe DiMaggio, Roy Campanella, and Edgar Martinez, but I decided to name this club after pitcher Ray Fisher. Five of the players managed to steal home twice in a season, and five players managed to make the list twice, but only Fisher did it three times, in 1915, 1916 and 1919.

So far this season, only McMahon and Andrew McCutchen have a chance to join the Fisher Club of Exclusively Domiciliary Basestealers. McCutchen’s steal of home wasn’t as easy as McMahon’s, it happened because JT Realmuto threw the ball into center field when the runner was on first from second. If another player finishes the season without a second or third steal, they will join Yordan Alvarez as the only players to do so on the team this decade. If they end up stealing a second or third time, I look forward to hearing my phone explode at the most inopportune time possible.

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