Three years on, it isn't hard to understand the appeal of a shrimp running on a treadmill set to Yakety Sax. It just makes sense, as it is sheer and unadulterated brilliance.
Brilliant as it may be, Kris' idea to embed the shrimp video every time a big league game ended in a walkoff walk started out innocently enough. The initial post promises to post the video during the inaugural season only. Obviously, this feature took off and became a sensation (with the internet's smallest S, that is.)
Not even Kris, in his infinite wisdom, could foresee the emergence of Twitter. Constant online connections among readers and shrimp fans took the walkoff walk/shrimp video phenomenon from best part of your morning RSS crawl to a community-wide orgy of anticipation and unchecked online glee.
The game-ending bases on balls came fast and furious, with the initial WoW occurring just a week into the 2008 season. In all, the 2008 and 2009 seasons provided 8 walkoff walks each. 2010 saw walkoff walk output fall off a cliff, not unlike the site itself. Only 4 WoWs this past season, including a three consecutive dry months. Shrimp, it seems, needs water to survive. I think we can all agree the first domino in the death of the site fell during this long, shrimpless summer past.
Twenty walkoff walks in 3 years, involving nineteen of the thirty big league teams. The Dodgers notched three walkoff walk wins in 3 years, leading the league in the most crucial stat. The Diamondbacks, Cubs, Tigers, Angels, and Phillies got two Benny Hill wins in our history. The reluctant heroes are those teams who lost in this most dishonorable fashion. The Braves, Red Sox, Rockies, Tigers, Mets, and Nationals each took two shrimp on the chin. Walkoff Walks come in all shapes and sizes, let's make with the listicle!
- We saw eleven 2 out walks while eight came with 1 out. Only one bases loaded walk came with nobody out - to Juan Pierre of all people. Jose Arredondo ended an Angels/Dodgers interleague battle for Los Angeles with a six pitch walk to Pierre, one of the weirdest WoWs on record.
- Two games were tense, scoreless affairs before mirth muscled its way into the picture. Two each for games tied at 1, 2, and 4. Three games were tied at 5, six games were tied at three with single games tied at 6, 7, and 8.
- Thirteen of the walks came with the count full, three came from 3-1 counts, and four poor saps ended their work night by missing the zone four straight times with the bases loaded.
The shrimp seems to come in bunches and mostly to NL West teams. August 2008 may well have been the zenith of the Walkoff Walk. WoWs on back to back days to start the month then two in one night on August 30th.
A huge night in Walkoff Walk history for a huge part of Walkoff Walk lore. I won't speak for anyone else but I seriously doubt I'll look at potential end-game situations quite the same again. The first Heist came so tantalizingly close to shrimp immortality, flipping the script in such a profound way. What started as a joke on an anti-climactic way to end a tight ball game is now the only way I want games to finish.
Once more, with feeling, let's celebrate what stands to be this site's lasting legacy. Get on your dancing shoes.
Huge assist to the great Pat Lackey - Heisthost and beleaguered Pirates blogger - for the Play Index support.