Sunday afternoon, an MLB record was set.
Sure, we don’t really know if 21 pitches in a single at-bat is indeed history throughout the entirety of Major League Baseball. It turns out that MLB in 1887 wasn’t tracking the actual number of pitches thrown (including fouls) in an at-bat. They weren’t in 1987, either. (Such tracking began in 1988.) But, for as long as the official records have been kept, Belt now owns the longest at-bat along with Angels pitcher Jaime Barria.
In honor of this historic achievement, I’m here to break down the events as they happened. I’m also including exactly what was going through people’s minds that I know because they are true, and this recollection of events is above reproach*.
With that in mind, here is the breakdown of events. If you would like, here is the full, non-condensed at-bat. It will take up just about all of your 15-minute break at work, so give yourself extra time to read this.
The at-bat stars Belt, of course, who has hit home runs in each of the last three games he has played, despite sitting out a game on his birthday the day after hitting a home run. He isn’t mad about that. Really, he isn’t. After seeing all the high praise Mac Williamson was getting from having a new pitching coach, he secretly had been seeing his own in hopes of ending the so-called Belt Wars on social media. He’s cute that he thinks anything will end those wars, but he’s looking forward to putting the recommendations of his new batting coach to task.
For the Angels, Jaime Barria is on the mound. Barria is making his second Major League start, after having given up one run in five innings in his debut earlier that week. He owned a 3.45 ERA in five minor league seasons, and struck out 321 minor league batters in 399
seasons innings. A guy on Reddit claims the scouting report on him is that he throws around the zone but lacks an ‘out’ pitch. That was a pretty spot-on scouting report.
0:00 (1:10:46 PM PDT) - Belt steps into the box. Joe Panik is on first base. Barria has thrown 7 pitches. No one expects what is to come.
0:08 - PITCH 1 - 92 MPH Fastball down the heart of the plate.
Belt fouls it nearly straight back. It might be the best pitch to hit. It’s nearly spot on where Belt’s home runs from his last three games were. It won’t be the last pitch Belt gets in that spot.
0:15 - Mike Krukow informs us that Doug Eddings is a pitcher’s umpire, will give both corners and call low strikes. Belt hears this somehow and understands what he has to do.
0:36 - PITCH 2 - 92 MPH Fastball inside, about a foot above Belt’s Belt.
Belt takes it for Ball 1. Someone yawns in section 222. In the Shock Top Brew Pub, the Warriors game is on, and they’ve committed their 8th turnover to San Antonio. There are more Angels fans watching that game than watching the baseball game going on outside.
1:04 - PITCH 3 - 80 MPH Slider inside just above Belt’s knees.
Belt swings and misses. The count is 1-2. Some of the fans who got here for batting practice are just beginning to feel the beer in their bladder, and resolve to wait until the middle of the inning to go use the restrooms.
1:32 - PITCH 4 - 91 MPH Fastball, high and on the outside part of the plate.
Belt swings and hits it foul, back and to the right.
1:41 - Duane Kuiper warns the second level that they need to be ready for foul balls. Rarely has he been as on the nose as right now.
2:10 - PITCH 5 - 81 MPH Slider, outside edge of the plate and at the knees.
Belt reaches for it and somehow pulls the outside pitch as a weak grounder down the first base line.
In Sausalito, a longtime KNBR caller makes a snippy quote about Belt’s slumpy shoulders on Twitter, and switches over to the Warriors game. His shoulder slump when he sees the early score.
2:42 - PITCH 6 - 83 MPH Changeup, inches off the plate outside and at the shins.
Belt takes the pitch to work the count to 2-2.
Somewhere, on assignment, Jon Miller kicks up his feet in his Hawaiian shirt, listening to Dave on the call on KNBR. He’s imagining how he would have described the Disney-fied mountains in the outfield to the radio audience had he not taken an assignment on this trip, but then he sips a drink that has a cocktail umbrella and smile, realizing he won’t have to explain while a mountain scene has fire explode from it when the Angels hit a home run for at least another three seasons.
Then he takes a bigger drink realizing he’ll still have to explain the...thing in Miami.
3:13 - PITCH 7 - 81 MPH Slider down the pipe.
Belt turns on the pitch, and lines it foul into the stands near the right field corner.
In Mountain View, a Giants fan and Google engineer posts a random meme on the SF Giants Fans group on Google+ to try and remind people it’s there. People notice, but only ones who are employed by Google. Giants twitter is full of people complaining about Belt, and Carmen bravely fighting them off.
3:46 - PITCH 8 - 92 MPH Fastball on the inside edge of the plate, waist high.
Belt fouls the ball towards the Angels dugout, somehow keeping his hands in enough to avoid getting hit on the hand. As he steps back from the plate, Belt looks at his left hand and then his right hand, counting his knuckles as he suffers from PTSD of one of the 327 times getting hit by a pitch broke something and put him on the disabled list. He quickly wipes the sweat forming from his brow.
Barria, being a rookie pitcher, completely misses this piece of key information. So does catcher Martin Maldonaldo, who wants to get a baseball from umpire Doug Eddings, but Eddings wants to throw the ball to Barria himself to take a break from squatting already this much behind the plate. Thus, neither pitcher nor catcher try to pursue this obvious weakness again.
Krukow notes that Barria is showing excellent control, keeping everything around the plate.
4:15 - PITCH 9 - 92 MPH Fastball on the outside edge of the plate at chest level.
9 pitches in, Belt has worked the count full. Krukow gloats about his jinx, saying “Except there,” but he has wasted his jinx for Ball 3, and not Ball 4. The Baseball Gods laugh in his direction, which ends up being in all of our directions.
4:41 - Pickoff throw to first.
Barria finally remembers there is a runner on first, even if it a runner with 48 career stolen bases. Not in the Majors, 48 total as a professional, since being drafted in 2011. Barria figures that, even if it is better late than never, he should show the coaches that he knows there is a runner there and is making a token effort to keep the runner on. After all, it’s still only the first inning, and it’s not like his arm is getting tired. “This at-bat will end soon,” he thinks, activating his own jinx.
5:11 - PITCH 10 - 92 MPH Fastball right down the pipe.
Belt fouls the ball almost straight back.
In Orinda, a KNBR caller takes note of this and begins writing his monologue for why Belt needs to be cut in favor of anybody else, because he can’t hit a pitch so fat it makes Pablo Sandoval look svelte.
5:26 - Belt looks in to 3rd base coach Ron Wotus, squinting really hard to see if he is getting asked to bunt against the shift. Wotus is presumably sending signs to the Giants dugout, trying to position the players watching along the fence to position them perfectly to field all potential foul balls that could come their way. Belt looks down, not surprised to see that Wotus is still a Bench Coach at heart.
5:43 - Pickoff throw to first.
Barria, confused by Wotus’s long series of signals to the Giants bench, thinks a hit and run is on and tries to counter it. The yawn in Section 122 has become contagious, and fans are yawning throughout the ballpark, except in the Shock Top Brew Pub, where fans are bemoaning their hockey team having been swept out of the first round. And that the Ducks had been, too.
Kruk and Kuip begin to fill the time talking about the weather the way two retail store workers do five hours into an eight-hour shift.
6:10 - PITCH 11 - 82 MPH Slider on the inside edge of the plate, thigh-high.
Belt fouls the pitch straight back with a slow swing that was just to protect the plate. The discussion about the weather continues in the TV booth. Mike Trout begins to kick his legs to get circulation back into them. The grass has begun to die under his feet from where he stands, because he hasn’t left that spot in so long.
In San Antonio, the Golden State Warriors commit their 37th turnover in Game 4 of their playoff series. Steve Kerr is watching online, and is considering hiring Barria as a new coach of passing.
6:44 - PITCH 12 - 83 MPH Changeup shin-high on the outside black of the plate.
Just before the pitch is thrown, SS Andrelton Simmons throws his hand up. Since he is in the shift, Simmons is just to the right of second base. Is he trying to distract Belt? Is he trying to stretch a stiff shoulder at an inopportune moment? Is he double checking his Fitbit for his step count? Who knows. But Belt swings at a pitch that is outside the normal strike zone, and Andrelton notices.
Belt, as he watches the foul ball sail into the second deck on the third base side, is only thinking about the scouting report he heard from Krukow, about Eddings being a low strike ump, and hopes his new batting coach will be happy.
MEANWHILE - Somewhere in New York, Commissioner Rob Manfred has heard about a serious new threat to the Pace of Play Initiative. He is trying to tune in, but MLB.tv is informing him that the Giants-Angels game is blacked out in his area.
7:18 - PITCH 13 - 83 MPH Changeup in the zone, low and outside.
Joe Panik goes on the pitch, as Belt swings and fouls the pitch back. Panik wasn’t attempting to steal or go on a hit and run, he just feels the need to get wind sprints in to stay warm.
Barria walks up the mound, frustrated. He’s trying to count how many pitches it’s been, and he keeps forgetting if Belt has fouled three pitches straight back or four. He’s wrong, it’s been five times. Belt begins to wonder why he keeps getting stuck in things that go on too long, like Game 2 against the Washington Nationals and the Baby Giraffe nickname.
7:58 - PITCH 14 - 92 MPH Fastball, thigh high on the outer half of the plate.
Belt hits the pitch foul, and pulls his right oblique muscle as he does it. He attempts to walk it off, knowing it’s not a real injury unless a pitch hits him.
The fans wake up and cheer. They had forgotten a baseball game was going on for about 8 pitches, but at least they hadn’t missed much.
In Section 533, an Angels fan suddenly gets the idea to do the Oprah Winfrey meme saying “You get a foul ball, You get a foul ball! EVERYBODY GETS A FOUL BALL!” and does a search for the best meme-generating website she can get on her iPhone. She will finish the meme and post it on Twitter before the at-bat ends. She is the 4,918th person to have posted it.
8:34 - PITCH 15 - 82 MPH Slider just off the inside of the plate, Belt’s belt-high.
The pitch is slow enough that Belts’ hands are never in danger. He cuts the ball straight back again. Barria takes a walk off the mound and kicks at an invisible can.
The Giants dugout is laughing and clapping. Andrew McCutchen has stopped swinging the bat in the on-deck circle so he doesn’t tire himself out. Kole Calhoun, in right field, has dropped to a squat and is picking blades of grass to keep his mind active, even though the little league coach in the bleachers is yelling at him to pay attention.
9:07 - Pickoff throw to first.
In the dugout, Charles Nagy, the pitching coach for the Angels, is beginning to think that all these pickoff throws are just adding to Barria’s effective pitch count, which feels like it’s somewhere in the 40’s.
Andrelton Simmons, playing on the first base side of the infield in the switch, sees the sign before the pickoff throw and suddenly shifts to the shortstop side of second base. Kuiper thinks this is something tipping off pitch location, but he is mistaken. Simmons is trying to be creative in distracting Belt before a pitch, and thinks that acting like a football wide receiver going in motion is an effective distraction.
In Mountain View, a past-and-future KNBR caller is preparing a call-in diatribe to talk about how boring Belt at-bats are, and they should trade him for Albert Pujols straight up. He sees that Pujols is not playing this game and just figures the Angels are on the outs with him and would be open to a trade.
9:31 - PITCH 16 - 82 MPH Changeup at the knees on the inside half of the plate.
As Belt begins to swing, he pulls his left oblique muscle, but that has the same effect as when Mr. Incredible’s back got fixed by the robot monster pulling on his arms and legs. Belt drives the ball foul deep down the left field line.
1,829 fans say “**** it,” and begin heading to the bathroom after holding it for the at-bat, but they have problems getting up the aisles as they run into all the fans just arriving at the stadium after being stuck in the usual Sunday Orange County traffic.
10:12 - PITCH 17 - 92 MPH Fastball down the pipe.
Belt fouls it back, and before the words are even out of his mouth, Kuiper has become too tired of saying “Fouls it back.”
Shortstop Andrelton Simmons goes full Dinger in distraction mode, and throws both hands up just before the pitch is thrown. Off-camera, I can only assume he was spinning his head like he needs an exorcism.
10:41 - PITCH 18 - 93 MPH Fastball, inside just above the knees.
Belt turns on the pitch and fires it down the right field line into the stands.
Unbeknownst to fans, the Rally Monkey escaped its pen in center field and had jumped in front of the center field camera. Thanks to a tape delay on the broadcast, the cameramen just show Pitch 16 again instead. No one notices the difference. The monkey is captured and put back into his vault, which is a repurposed water tower that Warner Bros. used to use to incarcerate their own animated maniacs.
Belt steps out of the box, and his shoulders begin to slump from getting tired of swinging the bat this much. In Vallejo, the giraffes at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom hear the call, and begin to focus all their energy. Brandon, the actual giraffe named after him, begins transmitting energy to the human Brandon via the ossicones on his head, thus finally revealing their evolutionary purpose. Brandon is renewed with energy as he steps back into the box.
Barria, who does not look like or is randomly named after an animal totem, is at a disadvantage, and begins to get more frustrated.
11:14 - Pickoff throw to first.
Barria attempts to take advantage of Joe Panik, who also does not have an animal totem. Unfortunately, he does not realize that Panik has a rock band as his totem, and he has been drawing energy from them for a while now. He has also developed an articulate singing voice with surprising range, and is using it to entertain Angels first baseman Luis Valbuena and first base coach Jose Alguacil.
Kuiper says that this has got to be at least a ten minute at-bat. He’s off. It has been 11 minutes and 26 seconds since Belt first stepped into the box.
Barria’s bubblegum has now lost all its flavor, and he’s chewing it out of spite that he can’t just spit it out on his home diamond. He is hoping that pitching coach Charles Nagy will burn a mound visit to bring him more gum, but he has no signal for ask for that. He’s also getting incredibly frustrated that he has thrown a total of 25 pitches and Belt is still at the plate.
11:42 - PITCH 19 - 82 MPH Slider to the low-inside corner of the plate.
Belt golfs the ball down the right field line, foul.
The Giants dugout still laughs, but the clapping has died down because their hands have begun to hurt like it does with the singer at a concert does their third attempt at a bow for the crowd.. The Angels dugout looks like both of their local hockey teams just got swept in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, and that it is still a better showing than their two local basketball teams.
Belt finally smiles, as he is trolling the world and that is his entire purpose in life now..
That Oprah Winfrey meme from section 533 is almost uploaded to Twitter now, just waiting for the poor cellular signal to transmit it.
In the dugout, Johnny Cueto’s gum has also lost all its flavor, and he is now carefully choosing which teammate he will stick a bubblegum bubble on top of their hat.
12:15 - PITCH 20 - 92 MPH Fastball on the black outside, Belt’s Belt-high.
The second level gets another souvenir off of a foul ball to the third-base side.
The camera cuts to the Giants dugout to show us that Hunter Pence appears to have grown a thin mustache. He grew it during this one at-bat. No, he didn’t grow a beard and then shave it to leave the mustache, he grew only the mustache. He can do that.
His teammates are hesitant to tell him that modeling his comeback look after Tim Lincecum’s short hair and mustache comeback look during comeback #2 (or was it #3?) is not a good look.
Meanwhile, Rob Manfred has finally been able to tune into the game. He immediately begins work on a proposed new rule to limit the number of pitches that can be thrown in an at-bat to 12, and sends it to the guys working on the next CBA proposal to slip it in somewhere it won’t be noticed. The guy receiving his email doesn’t bother putting it in, because he actually likes baseball and the players are just going to strike when the CBA ends, anyway.
Belt swings the bat as he gets into the box. Barria’s BMI has dropped 3% from the sweat of throwing all these pitches.
12:49 - PITCH 21 - 92 MPH Fastball on the inside half of the plate, Belt’s Belt High
Belt lines the pitch to Kole Calhoun in right field. Calhoun, who just found a dandelion intact, has made a wish that this at-bat would end and blown off all the seeds in one try. He looks up to see the ball coming his way, and catches it for an out at 12:53.
Calhoun then begins jogging in towards the infield as if the inning is over. He hasn’t forgotten that it was only the first out of the inning, he’s just hoping everyone else has and that they’ll let the inning end. Belt jogs back to the dugout, and after getting a lot of congratulations, takes a seat with his new hitting coach.
Barria is at 28 pitches for the day, with just one out to show for it. Nagy finally comes out for a mound visit to let Barria catch his breath, but naturally doesn’t bring out any fresh gum for his pitcher.
Barria throws 49 pitches in the first inning total, but does not give up any runs. But he tires in the third, loading the bases with nobody out, including a single given up to Belt after 8 pitches, including four fouls balls. He finishes the game having gone just 2.0 IP, credited with two runs on five hits, and having thrown 77 total pitches, not including pickoff throws.
Belt finishes the game 3-for-5 with a home run, now the fourth straight game with a home run for him. He has a .962 OPS that leads the Giants. People still call in wanting to replace him on the KNBR radio show after the game.
* - Bryan is making me say that my assumptions of what people were thinking are not actual public record, and should be considered satire.