Issue #24: Flip, Flip, Flipadelphia
The bat flips are running rampant through baseball, and I am back at it, grading each one.
Hello, my name is Colin. Welcome to the 24th issue of The Wood Report, an eclectic smorgasbord of sports “news” and humor.
The stars have been out the past week. All-Star games, Finals, and Olympic preparation mean that the best athletes in the world have been all over the headlines. But before we get to that, I think you all know what to expect in this newsletter based on what I teased last week
This Week’s Main Story
We are now past the halfway point of the baseball season, having played 2709 games. In those games, the players have decided to make the most of 2021. Fans are back in the stands and a full season is ahead, so everyone is having a lot more fun. Especially hitters. With the focus that has been on pitchers and the quasi-grey area they have been operating in with sticky stuff, the batters have had all the more reason to celebrate when they break through for a big home run. And the celebrations have not disappointed.
In this issue of The Wood Report, we are taking a look at some of the best bat flips that happened during the 1st half of the 2021 season. We will run each through our highly scientific process to assign a Bat Flip Grade (patent pending). For those new to the newsletter, here is a breakdown of how The Wood Report evaluates each toss.
Bat Flip Grade Scoring Rubric
The Bat Flip Grade for each individual flip is based on 5 criteria, each with 10 possible points to earn, for a maximum BFG of 50. I’ll explain each criteria and what would constitute a good score.
Flip Mechanics: Here we are grading solely the act of the flip. How smooth was the flip? Was there hesitation before the flip? Did the bat go high or was it dropped as an afterthought? How many times did it rotate and on what axis?
Player Emote: This is a grade of what the player did during the bat flip and after the bat flip. This is a much more creative aspect. Was he celebrating with his teammates? Did he yell at the dugout or at the pitcher? A stare-down of the pitcher is a huge boost here while a head down trot around the bases would take away from the earlier bat flip.
Reaction: We are looking at the reaction of both teams here. A huge reaction from either side is necessary for a 10 score in this category. The best bat flips elicit a strong emotional response from everyone involved. Did the pitcher yell at the batter? Was the dugout already over the fence to celebrate?
Context: What did this bat flip mean in the grand scheme of baseball. It’s important that the homerun itself was impactful. It also is important that the bat flip was deserved. A late inning playoff game will rate very high here, but a regular season flip in the 2nd week of the season not so much. Bonus points will be awarded for any beef between teams/players that make the flip more than a flip.
Bat Distance: Simply how far away does the bat land from home plate. Further away = high score. Landing right at the plate = low score.
That’s it. A simply 5 step ranking to get the BFG for any bat flip. Let’s put it to work with some of my favorite flips from 2021 (so far).
First up, we are looking at one of the very first bat flips of the season.
Flip Mechanics: 7 - This is a very fun flip. McNeil doesn't hesitate for a moment. As soon as the ball leaves his bat, he turns and chucks that thing towards his own dugout. He goes with two hands to give it that extra 'umph'. We don't get a clear view of how many flips it takes before landing, but we can assume a decent amount.
Player Emote: 4 - Jeff's reaction itself is not the most exciting. He stares down his own bench a bit, then takes a jog around the bases, not milking it a single second. The high fives to the teammates are good, but routine.
Reaction: 7- The reaction score is bumped up by my man in the upper deck that caught the ball. This is probably the guy's first live game in over a year and he loves every moment of it. Additionally, I want to give props to Jeff's teammate, Pete Alonso, who is over the all almost instantly when the ball is launched. Pete's a guy that likes to party.
Context: 5 – When Jeff walks up to the plate, the Mets are down by 1 in the bottom of the 9th. His solo homer here ties the game and leads to the Mets winning the game later in the inning. It's an early April game, but it's a big comeback win against a divisional opponent for a team with lofty expectations.
Bat Distance: 6 - I have to go middle of the road here because we never get a clear shot of where the bat lands. It seems like it would have gone pretty far, but I can't be sure, so we'll give it 6 and move on.
BFG - 29/50
Flip Mechanics: 9 - This is a beauty of a flip. That's no surprise considering the man doing it. Max is an elite bat flipping talent, and he knew to take advantage of his moment. He takes 3 steps off the plate before finally flipping the bat behind his back with his right hand. And the bat is SPINNING. That's a lot of rotation for such an effortless throw.
Player Emote: 5 - Max has the swagger out of the box. Those three steps are purposefully. But Max, much like Pitbull, has been there, done that. He's bat flipped on the biggest stage. While this one was good, he knows he has more dingers to pimp in the future.
Reaction: 8 - The Dodgers bench comes out in full force to celebrate at home plate. They are there with water and chalk, throwing it all over Muncy. The fans are hyped too. We got some group hugs, some rapid fire fist pumps, and this guy who was the first person to realize what happened.
Context: 6 - A walk-off 3 run homer on the last day before the All-Star break. The Dodgers were tied with division rival Diamondbacks and Max sends his team to the break on the highest of high notes.
Bat Distance: 1 - Max was well on his way to an elite BFG, but unfortunately he flipped the bat back towards the plate, landing it basically back on home. No distance hurts him here.
BFG - 29/50
Let's look at the bat flip I teased in last week's issue of The Wood Report.
Flip Mechanics: 8 - A powerful downward flip. Winker takes the bat at its peak and smoothly flips it away, disgusted that the pitcher would even dare test him in the zone. Winker has been on fire all season, and he lets you know it.
Player Emote: 5 - Winker himself doesn't seem as jazzed as his bat flip would suggest. Maybe he has just gotten to the point to where the flip is a natural, involuntary reaction to sending another ballov oer the fence. He pimps it and skips around 3rd, but that's where it ends.
Reaction: 4 - The reaction here is okay, but that's mostly a factor of this being a home game in Cincinnati. The crowd has a lot of fun with it, plus the fireworks. But there's not a ton of fanfare otherwise. The Padres aren't super upset about it since they are still leading. And the Reds aren't going bonkers. I wish it could be better.
Context: 2 - The context here is... terrible. Winker has this amazing flip, but he wastes it on a 2 run dinger in the 5th inning. Even worse, the Reds are losing at the time and are still losing after he scores. No runs are scored the rest of the game, so the Reds lose 5-4. It's the least earned bat flip of the season.
Bat Distance: 3 - With such a forceful throw down, Winker doesn't have a chance to get any distance on this toss. He does get it away from home plate, earning a few points, but not a ton.
BFG - 22/50
Flip Mechanics: 10 - I am giving Trammell's flip a full 10 for the innovation here. Trammell is evolving the bat flip game in ways no one before him have tried to do. He doesn't flip it right out of the box. He flips it once from his right hand to left hand before his real flip. A double flip. This is the creative energy we need to infect the rest of the bat flip kings in the league. I love it.
Player Emote: 8 - Trammell is mean-mugging this one. He's a rookie with 51 major league games under his belt. He's the 9 hole hitter on a struggling team. And he is having the best game of his young career. He changes the bat flip game and stares down his dugout, letting them know he is just getting started
Reaction: 3 - A road game reaction, tough to score big here. The crowd is obviously less than enthused but we don't even get any good booing shots or someone throwing the ball back on the field. The pitcher is furious, and he seems the be the only one other than Trammell that gives a noticeable reaction. Not even an over the wall bench mob from the beaten down squad.
Context: 6 - Top of the 9th in a tie game with 2 outs. Trammell mashes his 2nd homer of the game, giving the Mariners a lead they would not relinquish in the bottom of the inning. Trammell absolutely deserved this flip.
Bat Distance: 6 - Another one that is hard to tell as the camera angles we get never capture the full journey of the wood. But he carries it a few steps and then tosses forward, so there's definitely some distance there.
BFG - 33/50
Let's take a look at Harry Ford, a high school catcher that was just selected by the Seattle Mariners with the 12th pick of MLB draft.
Flip Mechanics: 8 - This is high level flipping from such a young player. He stops and stares at this missile before a behind the back flip with intense ferocity. He wanted that bat to land two states over. He acted like the bat suddenly erupted in flames, which it might have following that swing. I can only assume this flip alone pushed his draft stock up 5 spots or more.
Player Emote: 6 - Stopping to stare at his newly created star while standing on top of home plate is a power move. And then, he sprints away. Not a jog to jaunt around the diamond. Ford bolts to claim his bases. I love this reaction to the play.
Reaction: 5 - The catcher is in awe of the power he just witness 3 feet away from him. He can only stare along with the batter before realizing Ford is already gone. Since this was a high school game, we don't have footage of what the rest of the spectators did, but I would think many of them had similar reactions to the catcher.
Context: 3 - How high of a context modifier can we give a high school game taking place in March? Honestly, I don't even know the score of the game. So let's give it a 3 since every little moment seems to take on life-changing importance when you're in high school.
Bat Distance: 8 - This bat is launched into orbit. It's getting away from the plate in a hurry.
BFG - 30/50
Gold Medal – Matiss Kivlenieks
We are going to take a quick break from the fun and laughs to talk about a heartbreaking story from this past week that deserves to be in the spotlight.
Last week, during a 4th of July party, Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender Matiss Kivlenieks tragically died from an errant fireworks display. Matiss was at the house of goaltending coach Manny Lagace, along with many other guests including teammate Elvis Merzlinkins. According to Merzlinkins, the 24-year-old Matiss “died a hero" as he took the blast in front of Elvis and his pregnant wife, who is in her third trimester with a son.
"He saved not just many lives, but when it happened, I was standing 20, 30 feet back of him and I was hugging my wife. He save my son, he saved my wife, and he saved me."
Merzlinkins said their son's second name will be Matiss in honor of his teammate.
Villain of the Week – Tampa Bay Parties
The Tampa Bay Lightning won the Stanley Cup and had the patented Tampa Bay Boat Parade to celebrate the city’s 3rd championship in the past 12 months. These parades honestly seem like a blast, but they can definitely get a little out of hand. Just look at Vasy wear the Conn Smyth trophy as a helmet while sporting a “Number One Bullshit” t-shirt (need to get myself one of those).
In all the craziness, the only thing that seemed to get damaged was the Stanley Cup itself. Obviously, this isn’t the first time the Cup has been dinged during a rager. Plenty of outrageous drunk players have handled it over the years. The Cup has seen it all. So I’m sure the Cup is fine… Oh no, what did you boys do?! That’s a pretty major dent.
On the brightside, Montreal finally gets to spend a day with the Cup as it returns to the city to be repaired.
Is This How You Play?
Is this how you slide?
Yeah, Team USA might be in trouble.
Dario Saric is on an emotional rollercoaster with this speech.
Is this how you pass?
News by the Numbers
0 - Players that have done what Shohei Ohtani has accomplished through the All-Star Break. I could spend an entire newsletter just talking about Ohtani and his greatness. I'm ecstatic that he was the talk of the league throughout all the festivities, and it somehow still didn't feel like enough. He went toe to toe with Juan Soto in a legendary showdown during the Home Run Derby. After competing in the derby, he then started the All-Star Game as the starting pitcher. He also led off for the American League. And of course he earned the win. He was THE headline of the entire week.
3 - All-Star Games in a row managed by Dodgers' skipper Dave Roberts. He has lost all 3 of them. In total, the National League has lost 8 All-Star Games in a row. If the losing streak gets to 10, the National League has to adopt the DH permanently.
6 - Active players on Team USA's roster as of Friday morning. This is after the departures of Kevin Love and Bradley Beal, and the fact that Khris Middleton, Jrue Holiday, and Devin Booker are all still competing in the Finals. It's really not looking great for America's Olympic basketball dominance.
20 - Number of sacks by NY Jets players Joe Klecko and Mark Gastineau each in 1981. Pro Football Reference went through the painstaking process of determining sacks pre 1982 (when sacks became an official stat). The duo becomes the only 20 sack teammates in NFL history.
20 - Rounds in the MLB Entry draft. With all 20 selections in 2021, the Los Angeles Angel drafted 20 pitchers. It's wild to think they couldn't find one position player they might need in their farm system this year. A combined no-hitter over 20 rounds.
26 - Points scored by Arike Ogunbowale in the WNBA All-Star game to beat Team USA and win AllStar Game MVP. Arike was cut from Team USA's Olympic roster on June 21 and she showed them why that might have been a bad decision.
$2,000,000 – The amount of money Pete Alonso has earned after winning back to back Home Run Derbies. Pete's career earnings as a Mets player to date is $1.17 million. Seems like he figured out how to game the system.
Homer Bias Restricted Area
David Bakhtiari is at the Finals and all he does is demolish beers to hype up the crowd. He is Milwaukee's secret weapon.Treat your beer chugging friend kindly.. they possess the power to turn ANY room into an ABSOLUTE ELECTRIC FACTORY , Mr Takatari, and SLAUGHTERING beers in Milwaukee ⚡️⚡️
MLB teams are 493-2 when leading by 4+ runs entering the 9th inning this season. The Yankees have both losses. Pain.
End Of Restricted Area
Another very exciting newsletter is in the books. The BFG still works. Be on the lookout for any flips through the rest of the season that deserve to be included in the next edition. I think the playoffs are going to be chock full of mesmerizing cellys.
Please don't forget to like and subscribe to The Wood Report, comment your favorite flip, and share with your friends.
Keep Sports Fun.
Twitter - @ColinRingwood12
The Buzzer Beater
Zhang Ziyu is a god to these children.