When terrible things are happening in the world, it’s often reflected on Twitter, where you doomscroll more and more until you’re reduced to a catatonic state of paralyzing despair. To offer relief during those trying times, some people will start tweeting wholesome or adorable things in order to “cleanse” your timeline, and while I enjoy pictures of cute animals as much as the next person, I find there’s really only one thing that helps get me out of a funk.
I just really enjoy watching a dinger.
Months ago, I stumbled across MLB HR Videos, a Twitter account that, as its bio explains, features ”[e]very bomb from the 2020-21 seasons in one place.” Whenever a homer is hit in Major League Baseball, MLB HR Videos will tweet footage from that game’s broadcast. You would think that the repetition of the same activity would get dull — pitcher throws ball, batter hits ball, ball goes over the fence — but it turns out to have the opposite effect. I find the tweets endlessly fascinating and also strangely calming, even reassuring.
MLB HR Videos is the work of two Twitter users, Hoodie G and Papa G, and it all started innocently enough. “It was the first day of the 2020 shortened season and I stumbled across this bot account that posted every time someone hit a HR,” Hoodie G explains to me over DM. “This was a very popular account so I thought, what if someone posted the videos of the HRs instead? I looked all over Twitter trying to find an account that did this and I couldn’t. The same night I invited [Papa G] to help me post all the HRs, and it just took off from there.”
When I ask for Hoodie G and Papa G’s real names, they politely decline, with Hoodie G telling me, “We run this account anonymously, we find it more fun this way.” So who are they? And how do they know each other? “Outside of Twitter we don’t have a relationship,” Hoodie G says. “We were just a couple of dudes who followed each other on Twitter because we liked the Yankees, and when I created the account, he was glad to jump aboard and help.” Looking around online, I’ve deduced that Papa G is a big Brett Gardner fan — like, a really serious Brett Gardner fan — and that Hoodie G was a Trump supporter. But otherwise, they’re basically a mystery.
In my time following the MLB HR Videos account, what I’ve discovered is that scrolling around their Twitter page is satisfying, but it can’t compare to when their latest tweet just randomly pops up on my timeline. You’ll be reading about America’s botched pullout from Afghanistan or the ridiculousness of the California recall election and then, suddenly, boom, you’re watching Shohei Ohtani hit his 40th homer of the year.
I’ve come to relish that little pause from the real world to enjoy something truly amazing. I’ve written before about how miraculous a home run is — a human being uses a wooden stick to hit a small ball that’s been thrown at him really fast, sending it high into the sky until it finally lands far, far away — and every time a new MLB HR Videos tweet shows up, I marvel at that feat all over again. The videos are usually pretty short — maybe around 10 to 30 seconds, which is about the time needed to take a deep breath and then exhale. Each tweet is its own tiny masterpiece with the same simple caption style above the video — the name of the player, the name of his team and which number homer that is for him for the season — like the label next to a painting in a museum. The tweets forever preserve the fact that somebody just smacked a round-tripper.
The impetus for the guys to make this account is obvious. “Home runs are frankly the coolest part of baseball,” Papa G writes. “I get bored watching 1-0 games and watching somebody hit a ball 400-plus feet is exciting.”
There are other, more data-driven Twitter accounts dedicated to home runs, including one that tracks a lot of the advanced stats around the homer, such as exit velocity and launch angle. But I prefer MLB HR Videos’ straightforward “Here is a video of a homer” approach. And when you watch enough of their tweets, you start appreciating all the little details in these clips. Lately, I’ve become fixated on how the pitcher reacts to giving up the long ball. Some of them turn around instinctively to watch it leave the park. Some barely move, maybe because they’re too stunned or angry or embarrassed to want to appear affected by what happened. Others just look so deflated: Oh man, he hit the shit out of that.
But no matter what reaction the pitcher has, the start of the clip is always the same: The pitcher is doing what he’s paid to do — throw a pitch that the hitter can’t hit — and every single time, without exception, he will be unsuccessful. There’s nothing inherently wrong in the pitcher’s form — his delivery is always smooth and efficient, the throw always made with utter confidence — but he’s about to get a terrible shock. In fact, it’s poignant if you think of the pitcher as the video’s main character: Each clip is a memorial to a time he failed. When the video starts, he doesn’t know his fate, but we do — we’re just waiting for him to find out, which is going to happen right now. It’s like Wile E. Coyote chasing the Roadrunner or Charlie Brown trying to kick that football: These guys are never, ever going to have a happy ending. MLB HR Videos is a parade of their futility in public.
Papa G has spent a lot of time looking at these videos and has also noticed the interesting variations in different clips. “Each HR has a different story,” he writes. “Some are viral because of something infamous happening (Nick Castellanos), some go viral because of a player (Ohtani, any pitcher hitting one), or frankly the energy that a clutch HR can cause. A walk-off HR is one of the best things in sports and the energy of the crowd makes it so much better.”
A recent example is Tim Anderson’s homer from the White Sox/Yankees Field of Dreams game. At nine seconds, it’s practically a GIF or a haiku, boiling down a simultaneous moment of triumph and dejection into its purest form, both sensations amplified by the yell of the fans. It’s a perfect distillation of one of sports’ most incredible moments — the walk-off home run — and the tweet invites you to replay it over and over again in order to relive that bite-sized drama. No matter how many home runs you see, you kinda can’t get over the sight of one.
That before/after quality of the clips is what makes them so compelling. Weirdly, they operate under the same principle as those old “Harlem Shake” videos: Show something fairly banal (a guy throwing a ball to the plate) and then hit us with utter chaos (the ball flies into the cheap seats and the announcer goes crazy). That soft/loud dynamic is addictive, and even if the outcome of the videos is predictable, it’s not to anyone in the clip, so there’s always an element of surprise baked in. I especially love hearing the play-by-play guy’s normal tone at the start of the tweet and then observing how he adjusts once the ball leaves the bat. Some homers are no-doubters — it’s just a question of how far they’re gonna travel — whereas others are a little more suspenseful because they might not clear the fence. But each is exciting in its own way, especially when it’s a rare inside-the-park home run.
Hoodie G and Papa G take pride in the fact that they actually hand-curate each tweet. “[M]ost of the videos we used are posted by the official teams,” Papa G explains over DM, “but we also sometimes have to get them ourselves like the ones in spring training and low leverage situations like in a 15-2 blowout so, it’s really not that hard to produce the videos but it’s a human element because we don’t have a bot for it and we do it manually.”
I wondered if MLB has ever tried to shut them down since they’re not officially partnered with the league but, thankfully, the guys haven’t had a problem. “Since we take the HRs from other accounts, like the TV networks, we don’t have any issues with copyright strikes,” Hoodie G writes. “However, in the past, sometimes HRs in blowouts would never get posted so we would have to post them ourselves, and when we did this, we got a couple copyright strikes. We circumvent this now by posting the HRs on our personal Twitter accounts, where MLB or the TV networks never really care to find them and then post them on [the MLB HR Videos] account.”
Funny enough, what I imagine most people focus on in these clips — the hitter’s reaction immediately after hitting the ball — isn’t necessarily something I care about that much. Listen, I’m pro-batflip — I’m totally cool with a guy admiring his homer or showing some enthusiasm — but because there’s been so much silly debate around baseball’s “unwritten rules” in terms of “proper” home run etiquette, I find myself less interested in taking notice of that in the videos. That’s almost secondary to the three-act short story going on in every MLB HR Videos tweet.
And, ultimately, it doesn’t connect to what’s so existentially gratifying about these clips. Like a lot of people who love baseball, I find the game an apt metaphor for life. Major league players are astounding physical specimens capable of outstanding achievements on the diamond — and, yet, most of the time they don’t succeed. Hitters get out far more frequently than they get on base. Great pitchers give up hits all the time — they lose with alarming regularity. An amazing team only wins three out of every five games. Futility is a given, and when ballplayers actually do something good, it’s kind of wondrous because the odds are that they won’t. Life is like that, too, and watching baseball reminds me to have a short memory and not let the failures get to me.
Each clip on MLB HR Videos is a bite-sized illustration of that principle. Next time up, that pitcher might strike out that batter — the outcome could shift very easily. (Just think of all the pitches the home-run hitter didn’t make contact with during that same at-bat.)
For their part, Hoodie G and Papa G will keep their Twitter account running for as long as they still enjoy doing it. “Last year was tiring even though it was only 60 games,” Hoodie G admits. “However, this year we’ve gotten into a grove. … I’m sure there will be a time where we will stop, but who knows when, and when it happens I hope someone else will decide to take over the account and post the HRs.”
I hope so, too. The enormity of the world’s problems are too big to comprehend sometimes — it can be depressing and debilitating. And maybe watching a bunch of tweets of guys socking dingers won’t make any of that go away. But in the moment, it’s a huge help. Cute kittens are nice, but can any of them go yard?