At least one witness called it a "Little League triple." An opposing player said it reminded him of something "The Bad News Bears" would do.
And that, incredibly, amounted to two extra bases for the Seattle Mariners after Ryan hit an infield single to deep short at Safeco Field on Tuesday night.
With seemingly everyone on the A's infield out of place, watch Ryan keep taking unoccupied bases — without even drawing a throw — until he gets 90 feet from home:
If Billy Beane were more like that one guy from "Top Gun," watching the Ryan play develop would have made him shout, "I want some butts!"
Ryan's mad dash was reminiscent of Johnny Damon's(notes) infamous "double steal" in the 2009 World Series. One difference: Ryan wasn't taking advantage of an unusual defensive shift. He was just taking advantage of the A's.
"On balls hit into the hole like that when the shortstop has to dive or backhand the ball, the second baseman often times is backing up first," Ryan said. "If you get past first and second basemen you have second base open so I looked for it.
"Then I got to second and it looked like the closest person to third was right next to me. If get past him, I got third. It would have been fun to crawl home and score on that," he said. "It was really a wacky opportunity that presented itself."
So, how do you score it? And who is most at fault?
Though this particular kind of event isn't covered in MLB's official rulebook, it was scored as a single and a fielder's choice. It was referred to here as fielder's indifference — which certainly seems closer to the truth. The scorer couldn't assign errors; first baseman Conor Jackson(notes) never made a throw on Ryan. And mental errors don't count in statistics.
The Mariners scored twice in the inning and beat the A's 4-2, so Ryan's alertness and hustle — along with the A's sleepy ineptitude — definitely impacted the outcome of the game.
And that leads us to the fun part: Whom do we blame for this monstrosity on defense?
A's manager Bob Melvin called it a communication breakdown, and we certainly can start there. Jackson, the last guy with possession of the ball, saw it like this:
"It was an extremely heads-up play by him," Jackson said of Ryan. "I turned around, he was halfway to second and there was no one there. I didn't want to throw the ball, and by the time someone got there, there was no one at third base."
You can't give all of the credit to Ryan, and you can pin all of the blame on the rest of the infield. In order, here's who was at fault:
1. Scott Sizemore(notes): A second baseman by trade, he is being converted to third and Melvin said he doesn't think the Brendan Ryan Runs Wild Scenario has been covered in drills yet. Fair enough, but if Sizemore immediately covers second as he should (Jemile Weeks(notes) was backing up first, as he should) then Ryan stays put at first base.
2. Eric Sogard(notes): The bespectacled shortstop made a nice play to field Ryan's grounder, which took him into short left field, but his throw to first went offline. Rather than lollygag, he should have covered third immediately and directed Sizemore to cover second. If Sogard at least gets himself to third base, he limits the A's embarrassment by 90 feet. This probably happens with Cliff Pennington(notes) healthy playing.
3. Jackson: Oh, you're not off the hook, Mr. General Hospital. If Jackson doesn't put his head down and begin to flip the ball casually to Harden, perhaps Ryan doesn't feel so emboldened to start taking extra bases. Jackson made himself unaware of Ryan's position, and that of his teammates on the infield, by assuming the play was over.
4. Harden: Couldn't he have done something with himself on the play? Covered second? Covered third? Tackled Ryan?
5. Beane: He green-lighted the Move Sizemore To Third Project in the first place.