Swing and a Miss: The 21 Biggest Mound-Charging Failures in MLB History
Let's face it. Baseball is one of the most popular, competitive sports in the world, and for good reason. There's nothing better than a warm afternoon watching the game, when one testosterone-driven athlete takes a bat to the plate and tries his damnedest to drive a pitch from another testosterone-driven athlete over the outfield wall.
These guys don't reach the major leagues without a competitive spirit and warrior's soul, though. As with any competition, the outcome can never be favorable for both sides. There are going to be tense moments in every game, and what happens when tension builds between a couple of testosterone-driven athletes? Tempers flare.
In baseball, guys usually solve this in one way. When something happens that a team doesn't like, it's the pitcher's job to go out there and plunk that guy with a fastball. If the situation calls for it, both benches will be warned and the game will move forward, but if the situation is severe enough, the other team's pitcher may feel the need to hit one of your guys, even if that results in him being thrown out of the game.
It's become commonplace in baseball, but that doesn't mean that everyone is going to like it. There are going to be hitters that aren't happy with being hit by a pitch intentionally (or in some cases, unintentionally). Hell, we've even seen managers and coaches do it from the dugout. When you're not happy with something, it's become the only solution—charge the mound.
I mean, since it was the pitcher's intention to send you a message by plunking you with a pitch, you do have the option to respond. Charging the mound seems to be the only way to do it. Run out there as fast as you can and hope you can beat his brains in before someone stops you.
More often than not, though, these mound-charging moments aren't always successful. They have, however, succeeded in becoming more entertaining than some games, so let's take a moment. Be it a serious situation, mind-boggling moment or hilarious blooper, charging the mound has become one of the most exciting facets of the game.
21. The One-Leg Dance?
I have no idea how to explain this video.
Firstly, I'm about 99.9-percent sure this isn't a real, official game. There is a grand total of zero people in the stands, and unless these two teams are really, really bad, I'm sure that there is at least one person of Japanese origin that wants to see a baseball game.
Second, what the hell actually happened to that guy? He gets hit by a pitch and charges the mound, that much I can understand. But before he makes it to the pitcher, what happens? Then the pitcher gets in on the one-leg dance and as the rest of each team charges the mound, they do the same thing!
Odd, but a mound-charging failure nonetheless.
20. Chris Young Shows Derrek Lee Who's Boss
I had to look at a couple of pictures to get the full effect from this fight, to see just how clearly it was a mound-charging failure. But I think the video is the most entertaining media to come out of this (granted, I wrote this with my laptop on mute).
This was a heavyweight fight. Chris Young, a pitcher formerly of the San Diego Padres, is billed at 6'10", 278 lbs. On this given day in 2007, he was opposed by then-Chicago Cubs first baseman Derrek Lee, who is listed at 6'5", 245 lbs. Young has the clear reach advantage, and he made good use of it here.
As the two squared off, Young threw a pitch up around Lee's head, which sent him to the ground and caused him to remain there for a few seconds. When he got up, I thought it was pretty clear that he never intended on taking his base.
Instead of walking down the first baseline, Lee headed towards first base well onto the infield grass, where he and Young began to exchange words. When watching the video, it looks like Lee lands a blow, but upon further inspection, it's the tall, lanky Young who keeps Lee at bay, never letting him get close to landing a hit.
Stay down, man. Just stay down.
19. Bert Campaneris Decides Against Charging the Mound
I almost decided against adding this slide, because I wasn't quite sure whether or not this constituted charging the mound. Obviously, I decided that it was relevant enough to put here, you know, since you're reading this right now, and with good reason.
After being sent to the ground by a fastball while playing for the Oakland A's, Bert Campaneris got to his feet in a fit of rage. He started charging the mound, but quickly decided against it, after taking just a few steps. Instead, he took his bat and threw it towards the pitcher's mound. It rotated like a helicopter's blades.
To a lot of people, this was one of the ultimate acts of cowardice in the game's history, and I thought it deserved a mention to show that "charging the mound" isn't always funny.
18. No Hugs Here—Mike Sweeney Charges Jeff Weaver (Who Isn't Looking)
The video I have up here is actually a tribute to Mike Sweeney. Since we don't have eight minutes to pay homage to one of the greatest Kansas City Royals of all time, you can just fast-forward to the 4:42 mark, where the scuffle begins.
I'm still trying to figure out what was going on here, but from what I understand, Sweeney had asked pitcher Jeff Weaver to move his rosin bag to a different spot on the mound. Weaver declined, and turned away from the batter.
Apparently, Sweeney didn't take to kindly to that. He ran towards the mound at full speed, throwing his helmet at Weaver, who wasn't even looking, before tackling him. The failure in all of this? Don't throw something at someone and miss when they're not even looking, or tackle the pitcher over a rosin bag.
17. Coco Crisp Lands a Hit, but Gets Put in a Headlock in the Process
If you watch this video all the way through, there is a brief glimpse of the headlock that I'm talking about. However, if you watch the video all the way through, the creator declares Coco Crisp the winner and James Shields the loser. That may or may not be the case, but we aren't concerned with such petty matters, right?
For some reason, I never found myself being much of a Crisp fan, but I have to give him credit for charging Shields, who is a much bigger guy than the former Red Sox' outfielder and shares a last name with a successful MMA fighter.
The most iconic image to come out of this fight was Crisp's nice fade-away to avoid a punch from Shields, before coming in and landing a glancing blow. I suppose, in that regard, this wasn't all too much of a failure. But I remember watching this when it first happened and thinking: "Wow. Crisp is getting his you-know-what handed to him."
So when I found this video, I couldn't remember why I thought that. Then it came back to me. It never became very popular among Red Sox Nation, but Crisp is handily put into a headlock by then Tampa Bay Rays' catcher Dionner Navarro, as Shields lands punches on him.
May be a cheap fail, but a fail nonetheless.
16. Jose Offerman Tries His Hand at Bluefish Fishing with a Baseball Bat
Jose Offerman is banned from the sport of baseball. Why? Because he has a long history of temper-related skirmishes, including one where he punched an umpire and a manager. That was the straw that broke the camel's back.
This is a different instance, however. In a minor-league game against the Bluefish, Offerman does something that instantly turns a mound charge into a failure in my book—he took his bat to the mound with him.
Luckily for the opposing team, not a single Bluefish was hurt in the making of this mound charge, and that is why Offerman has failed yet again.
15. Juan Marichal Clubs Johnny Roseboro with His Bat
As I said in the opening, there isn't always going to be a humorous moment that results in a player charging the mound. In fact, the conflict between Juan Marichal and Johnny Roseboro in 1965 was one of the most infamous moments in the history of the game.
Marichal, who was on the mound for the San Francisco Giants, had already beaned Los Angeles Dodgers' lead-off hitter, Maury Wills, twice in the game. So when Marichal came to the plate as a batter, the Dodgers' battery of Roseboro and Sandy Koufax decided that they were going to take the situation into their own hands.
On several return throws to the mound, Roseboro came awfully close to hitting Marichal in the head with the throw, and on the final throw, he grazed Marichal's ear. Obviously upset by this, the two exchanged words, and the first to take action was Marichal, who beat Roseboro over the head with his bat.
Roseboro, despite needing 14 stitches, would eventually reconcile his differences with Marichal, and the two became close friends.
14. Batter Charges Mound, but Pitcher Makes It out Untouched
The fight I'm talking about here starts around the 28-second mark.
Normally, the idea of charging the mound is to get a bit of revenge on the pitcher for hitting you with a pitch, or some other malady. In that regard, this is a pretty standard skirmish, when the pitcher hits the batter on the backside with a pitch and the batter decides to charge him.
That's where things get kind of strange, though.
The batter starts charging the mound, but is stopped from behind by the catcher. The two exchange words before they exchange punches. Oddly enough, this may be the only fight on the entire slide show where the batter doesn't come out looking like an idiot. He actually body slams the catcher.
The only problem is the pitcher, who he originally intended to charge, comes out unscathed. It's safe to say that didn't go the way he had intended.
13. Gerald Williams Misses Pedro Martinez; Catches a Lot of the Ground
Gerald Williams would have been better off just taking his base. He was drilled on the hands by a Pedro Martinez fastball, so you know those were stinging quite a bit as he walked it off up the first-base line. You could see the two quibbling back and forth, and in the end, Williams decided to charge the mound.
At first, it seems like Williams has the opportunity to land a punch on the Red Sox ace, but alas, he lands nothing. Martinez uses his cat-like reflexes (which we will surely see again on this list) to dodge Williams' strike.
As if missing Martinez's head with a punch wasn't bad enough, the rest of the Red Sox infield works like a well-oiled police task force, as the catcher wraps him up around the legs and the rest of the guys drag him to the ground. Complete failure.
12. Pitcher Beans Batter and Then Outruns Him
This was funny. I had to take a couple of deep breaths before I started writing about it.
From what I understand, this is a Japanese league. The hitting team is the Hiroshima Toyo Carp, and the batter is Rod Allen—a former Major League Baseball player who currently works as a broadcaster for the Detroit Tigers. I don't have much information on the other team, except for the fact that the pitcher really, really ticked Allen off.
He plunks him with a pitch that looks like it hurt, and Allen was having none of it. He takes off like a bat out of hell towards the pitcher's mound, but he didn't realize how fast the pitcher was. The guy sprints towards the outfield looking like his life was flashing before his eyes, and Allen gives chase.
The funny part? He never catches him! He outruns Allen for a good minute before the rest of the Carp catch up to him, putting an end to the chase.
11. Dave Winfield Gets Tackled from Behind Before Reaching Mound
I couldn't find a video of this charge by itself, so you'll just have to believe me. Or you can check out the footage from a vintage SportsCenter thanks to some guy named "Nick" who uploaded the top-nine mound charges in baseball history, according to SportsCenter. This brawl came in at No. 9 on their list.
At one point in time, Dave Winfield was a really, really big dude and feared hitter, and there weren't many pitchers who wanted much to do with him. I guess you could add former Chicago Cubs' pitcher Mike Krukow to that list, since he beaned Winfield in a game against the San Diego Padres.
Winfield who, as I mentioned, was a big guy, would have none of it. He decided that he was going to charge the mound and teach Krukow a lesson. He dropped his bat and headed for the mound, but he made a slight miscalculation—he hadn't accounted for Cubs' catcher Barry Foote, who tackled him from behind before he could reach the mound.
Winfield never forgot that, though. Later in the 1980 season, he charged the mound again, this time, against Nolan Ryan and the Houston Astros. He pushed the catcher aside and forced the umpire back this time, before landing a punch to Ryan's noggin.
10. George Bell Is Buried by Mo Vaughn
Mo Vaughn is a guy that I wouldn't want to mess with. He just looks like he can crush your head in the palms of his hands and not care about it (though that's really not the case.) I'm sure George Bell wasn't thinking about the guy playing first when he decided to charge the mound, where Aaron Sele resided, in a game against the Boston Red Sox.
Bell made it to the mound, took a swing at Sele, but missed. As it turns out, that was the only chance he was going to get. Bell, who readied himself to go at Sele again, was blindsided by the Sox' first baseman Vaughn, who hit Bell like a truck, instantly ending that little scuffle.
9. Chan Ho Park Hits Tim Belcher with a Flying Kick
I'm still debating whether or not this was actually an instance of a guy charging the mound, but since it involved a batter (Chan Ho Park) charging and attacking a pitcher (Tim Belcher), I think it's awesome enough to make the list.
Park had put the ball in play and was running up the first-base line when he was tagged out by Belcher. Apparently, there was a little too much contact for Park's taste, as after a little pushing and shoving, he leaped into the air and nailed Belcher with a flying kick to the midsection.
Of course, none of this happened anywhere near the mound, and Park came out of it looking like a pansy. All was not well.
8. Julian Tavarez Punches Joey Gathright's Lights out in Spring Training
The Boston Red Sox were ready for a fight during the 2006 season, literally. In fact, they were ready for a fight before the 2006 season, during Spring Training, where they were involved in a couple of scuffles. Just a day after Josh Beckett nearly got into a brawl with Ryan Howard of the Philadelphia Phillies, relief pitcher Julian Tavarez got into a fight with speedy Tampa Bay Rays' (then Devil Rays') outfielder Joey Gathright.
I cheated a bit. This wasn't really a guy "charging the mound," but it was a pitcher fighting with a batter, and that was close enough for my taste.
The action came as a result of a play at the plate, where Gathright tried to score safely against Tavarez, who was covering home. Things got kind of hairy after a little too much contact was made, and the two grappled for a bit before Tavarez landed what was then called a "sucker-punch" to Gathright's jaw, dropping the outfielder.
The way I see it: If you're going to scrap with a pitcher, don't get knocked out.
7. Gaby Sanchez Clotheslines Nyjer Morgan
This is one of my personal favorites. Admittedly, I'm not much of a Nyjer Morgan fan, but I digress. This fight is still a classic. Technically, I'm not really sure that Morgan actually "failed" charging the mound. He does land a pretty nice shot on Flordia Marlins' pitcher Chris Volstad.
Of course, getting clotheslined is never something you set out to do when charging the mound, and Gaby Sanchez absolutely demolishes Morgan here.
6. Kevin Youkillis Is Hip-Tossed by Rick Porcello
How do you make a name for yourself as a rookie? Well, you can always come up to the major leagues and be impressive by pitching well, as Rick Porcello was doing for the Detroit Tigers in 2009. Or there is always the option of throwing one of the best hitters in all of baseball to the ground when he tries to charge your mound in a fight, as Porcello also did in 2009.
It all happened kind of quickly, but once the fail-train started rolling, there was no stopping it. In a tense game in Boston, Porcello decided to plunk Kevin Youkilis. Fair enough. You see the thing is, Youkilis was having none of it. He immediately charges the mound and greets Porcello.
That's where the failing begins. Porcello takes a few steps back and off the mound, and in an attempt to slow him down, Youkilis decides to throw his helmet at the Tigers' pitcher. Of course, he completely misses.
Porcello was slowed down, but only slightly. As Youkilis came into his range, the charging Red Sox slugger, who looked like he had all of the momentum, was greeted with a hip-toss by the 20-year-old rookie, who proceeded to throw him on the ground and body slam him. Way to go, Youk.
5. Kyle Farnsworth Tackles Paul Wilson
Turning the audio down on this one is well advised.
Let's face it. Pitchers have the right to work the inside part of the plate, especially against bunt plays. It's no secret that throwing a fastball high and inside is one of the best ways to pitch to a pitcher looking for an easy sacrifice bunt. So that's what Chicago Cubs' starter Kyle Farnsworth did.
Turns out, the pitch almost drilled Cincinnati Reds' starter, Paul Wilson, in the head. He wasn't happy. He had choice words for Farnsworth, who had choice words for Wilson. The Reds' pitcher decided to charge Farnsworth, which turned out to be a huge mistake, as Farnsworth reverted to his high school football days and hit Wilson with a clean tackle before pummeling him on the ground.
4. Pedro Martinez Grabs Don Zimmer by the Head and Makes Quick Work of Him
I'm still not sure whether or not it's OK to find this video kind of funny. I mean, Don Zimmer is one of those great baseball people, and by this time, he's an elderly man. On the other hand, Pedro Martinez is a professional athlete on top of his game, so watching him throw Zimmer to the ground isn't entertaining. That said, it could have been worse.
At the height of the Boston Red Sox/New York Yankees rivalry, things got intense. In fact, it's a lack of moments like these over the last couple of seasons that have led some people to suggest that the rivalry isn't what it used to be.
This, however, has become one of the defining images of the rivalry. It was Game 3 of the 2003 American League Championship Series. Martinez was on the hill for the Red Sox, and in the top of the third inning, he beaned Yankees' right-fielder Karim Garcia with a pitch.
The Yankees' bench wasn't happy. They shouted towards Martinez from the dugout, led by Jorge Posada and Zimmer. During the bottom half of the inning, the Red Sox sent slugger Manny Ramirez to the plate, and Yanks' starter Roger Clemens threw him a high strike, which he didn't take kindly to.
The benches cleared, including Martinez. Out of nowhere, Zimmer charged Martinez, who grabbed him by the head and threw him to the ground. An odd mound charge, but one of the iconic moments of the game.
3. Izzy Alcantara Super Kicks the Catcher and Then Does, Well, Nothing
This is one of my favorite baseball videos of all time, and I'm still trying to figure out why. Maybe it's the combination of baseball and wrestling that only happens once in a blue moon, or the size of this epic failure that catches our eye.
Regardless, Izzy Alcantara makes this list with ease, and to many around the game, it's no surprise that this guy did something this crazy. After all, he's a bit of a loon.
I have to give him some credit for making sure that he didn't make the same mistake Dave Winfield did. He doesn't even drop the bat before giving the catcher a little "Sweet Chin Music," knocking him on his backside to prevent anyone from stopping him as he charged the mound.
The real problem was that although he actually made it to the mound, he couldn't get a hit in once he got there. He danced around for a few seconds like a boxer before being dragged to the ground by the infielders. His pride took the most damage in that scuffle.
2. Hot-Headed Batter Charges Mound, but Gets Knocked out Cold by Pitcher
Yes, this is the second time I'm using this video. Guilty as charged. Don't be fooled, though. There are some pretty good (or bad, depending on perspective) fights on here. This time, let's talk about the scuffle that begins at the 58-second mark.
I love this one. I'm not sure of the specifics, but I'm relatively certain that this is a game between two minor-league squads, one of which belongs to the Oakland A's. The stage is set when the pitcher plunks the batter with a fastball.
Cue the drop-down microphone, unnecessary stage lights and Michael Buffer. There is going to be a rumble.
The batter charges the mound with a full head of steam, but the pitcher has other ideas. He throws his glove at the batter and hits him right in the face! That doesn't stop the hitter, though. He is fully intent on knocking this pitcher out. There's just one problem—he is the one that ends up on the ground!
Unfazed by the fact that his glove did little other than slow the batter up, the pitcher winds back and fires a knuckle sandwich straight towards the batter's face and connects, dropping him in his tracks. Getting knocked out by the pitcher has to be the ultimate mound-charging failure, right?
1. Nolan Ryan Catches Robin Ventura in a Headlock; Lands Six Uppercuts
The ultimate baseball, mound-charging failure.
What else can we say about Nolan Ryan that hasn't already been said? The man is a member of the Hall of Fame. He has more than 300 wins, threw seven career no-hitters and is the all-time leader in strikeouts, and if you ask Robin Ventura, I'm sure he'll tell you that he throws a hell of a punch.
Ryan, who had already been charged by the big Dave Winfield in his career, made an oath to himself not to be taken lightly on the mound, and when Ventura, who at the time was close to 20 years younger than Ryan, charged the mound, the All-Star pitcher would have none of it.
Before Ventura could even blink, Ryan grappled him into a headlock and just took his time landing shots on his skull before anyone could break the two up. Amazing.