What Do You Do In A Walk Off Celebration

I’ve often wondered how I would respond in a fight, or as a soldier in battle, or as a bystander witnessing a tragedy. There are people who go through these things, and act nobly in them and emerge on the other side labeled as heroes, and rightfully so. But they’re the minority. There are others whose tale is one of cowardice, not heroism. And there are many more who fail to act, and whose stories are nothing more than the blank margins in someone else’s book. 
They say you don’t know how you’ll react until you go through something like that. Until then, all you can do is hope that you would respond the way you imagine you might, as one of the heroes.

The gladiators of our age are the athletes who compete on a nightly basis on a field of sport for the entertainment of the masses. We witness them at their deepest depths, and their ultimate heights, and again we imagine how we might respond on a similar stage under similar circumstances. We try to relate with their struggles and associate with their victories and failures, but we are just outsiders, unable to fully grasp the conditions of the battle.

And then there are nights like the three we had this week, when the grizzled, battle-tested gladiators achieve victory in glorious fashion, and we catch a glimpse of the pure emotion of the champions, unchained and uninhibited, even if only for a moment. It is what they play for. It is what five year-olds dream of when they stand in their backyard with a yellow whiffle bat and plastic ball in hand. It’s the moment you picture yourself in, and wonder what that euphoria of glory feels like and how you react. What follows is a sample of the possibilities.

July 29, 2013 – Walk-off solo home run by Geovany Soto in the 9th inning


Photo credit: Kelly Gavin
1 – Yu Darvish and Interpreter
The faces shout the joy in the heart, but the bodies scream of indecision on how to express the excitement. Do we hug? Do we high five? Do we yell in Japanese? I can only assume what followed was an abandoned high five which turned into a shoulder squeeze in an attempt to end this encounter as quickly as possible.

2 – Boy in Crowd
Ah, adolescent exuberance. In any other context, this face may emote…horror? fear? constipation? But here, this is merely the face of a boy so lost in the rapture of the moment that he is only pictured with rigid body, craned neck, and agape jaw. 

3 – Nelson Cruz
“Wow, look at Ian go, just jumping over that wall. I can do that. Should I do that? I can’t risk popping a quad. I could probably just walk out on the field. Stand back, little Jurickson, you don’t want to hurt yourself.”

4 – Ian Kinsler
This, this is the epitome of what this moment should be. Reckless abandon and total exuberance.

5 – Lance Berkman
Is Lance Berkman blind? Have we considered this as a possibility?

July 30th, 2013 – Walk-off three-run home run by Leonys Martin in the 10th inning


Photo credit: Kelly Gavin
6 – Craig Gentry
When in doubt, do the Rocky. Only in this case, it’s not the eye of the Tiger, but of the Kitten Face.

7 – Jurickson Profar
Unfazed by the grandeur of the moment. Business-like, calm, confident, almost casual. The kid is a Pro.

8 – Ian Kinsler
“I don’t know what to do with my hands, so…Wheeeee!”

9 – Dave Magadan
“We just scored 14 runs on 19 hits! I’m not getting fired tonight!!!”

July 31st, 2013 – Walk-off solo home run by Adrian Beltre


Photo credit: Louis DeLuca
10 – Man in crowd
Yes, take a picture, or video, on your phone. That’s how you appreciate the moment, truly. You’re 100 feet away, everyone around you is going bananas, and you’re capturing an image on your 6 megapixel phone when there are going to be hundreds of professional images online for your viewing in literally 20 minutes. Soak it up, buddy, you’re living life to its fullest.

11 – Ron Washington and Jackie Moore
Clearly, from his perch on the top step, and the uncomfortable bend at the waist, Ron Washington nearly abandoned his old hugbuddy Jackie to join in the celebration of the larger group. But alas, realizing his error, he turned to fondly embrace and pat his trusty sidekick.

12 – Elvis Andrus
Beautiful form, perfect strides, and a sparkly smile. This could be the new face of the walk-off. Arms extended overhead, a poster child for a new Fox Sports One ad campaign. Wait, why do you only have one sleeve on?

13 – Engel Beltre
“Last one to home plate is a rotten egg!”

14 – Ian Kinsler
All other submissions are invalid. There is no topping the Ian Kinsler face for the face of a walk-off celebration. I think it’s the surprise of the smile that captures it. Like when the club-wielding giant stops to admire the flower on the side of the road. It’s a rare sight, which makes it all the more valuable and endearing.

Thank you to Kelly Gavin and Louis DeLuca for capturing these awesome moments.

Peter Ellwood is a Senior Staff Writer for Shutdown Inning. You can email him at Peter.Ellwood@shutdowninning.com or reach him on Twitter @FutureGM
Peter Ellwood

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