NPF: ACCOMPLISHMENT

Posted in No Politics Friday on July 8th, 2011 by Ed

Note that I did not give this the "skip this if you hate sports" tag. Because this is something everyone can enjoy.

If you enjoy sports – or maybe even if you don't – there are moments in which you realize that you've seen perfection. I'm talking about things you see and immediately know you'll never see anything like it again. Tiger Woods winning the Masters by 12 strokes. Nadia Comaneci in Montreal. Bob Beamon's long jump. Jordan scoring 63 over 4 Hall of Famers in the Boston Garden. Vince Young in the Rose Bowl. Usain Bolt leaving a vapor trail. McEnroe vs. Connors at Wimbledon. Kerry Wood's 20 K's. Lemieux scores 5 goals in a game…5 different ways. Some feats are so amazing that they become legends as soon as they happen.

Records are made to be broken. But I know one feat that will never be repeated, and it stands as the single most impressive thing ever accomplished on an athletic field: Dock Ellis of the Pittsburgh Pirates throwing a no-hitter whacked out of his mind on acid. Some versions of this story are bowdlerized to suggest that he was "hung over" but make no mistake, the man was tripping balls. Check out this award-winning animated short (seriously, it made the film festival rounds) depicting the event while a recording of an interview with Ellis (who passed away a few years ago) as narration:

Click through to watch in HD.

Baseball aficionados use the phrase "effectively wild" to describe a pitching performance where the batters are baffled because the pitcher himself doesn't have much of an idea where the ball is going. Ellis threw one of the strangest no-hitters ever, walking eight batters, hitting two, and throwing over 150 pitches. I imagine the batters were less concerned with hitting and more concerned with defending themselves from the rocket-armed, bedraggled wildman with unfocused pupils hurling a rock hard object at them at 99 mph.

Salut, Dock Ellis. If they gave out gold medals for being the best possible kind of crazy, they might have to name it after you.