I wonder what the protocol is for embarrassing baseball card action shots. I've seen players looking straight up into the sky, having clearly popped the ball up. There have been photos where the batter is clearly swinging and missing the pitch. I believe this card, however, is the first time I've seen a hitter look so completely flummoxed. He's holding the bat in an excuse-me position, having either squared around to bunt before pulling back or freezing with the bat on his shoulder before unfreezing again and dropping the bat in a relaxed position. He's looking back, trying to locate the ball that just fooled him and meekly asking the umpire if it was a strike. This indecisiveness seems to have been the norm for Luis Mercedes, who lasted just three seasons in the major leagues and batted .190 in 70 total games. It's too late, Luis. That was strike three.
What interests me is that you never see a baseball card with a pitcher or fielder in an obvious moment of failure. There are no cards where Sidney Ponson turns to watch a meatball soar over the center field wall, no action shots of Manny Alexander booting a slow roller. To stretch it further, no one immortalized Jack Cust's stumble toward home plate in cardboard form; Sam Perlozzo's manager cards didn't showcase the skipper futilely throwing up his hands as another late-inning lead evaporated. Somehow, only hitters are allowed to be exposed as fallible.
Can you imagine how humiliating that might be for a player? Take a guy like Luis Mercedes. He didn't have that many baseball cards, and one of the few that exists shows him not in the midst of a mighty swing or a heroic dash around the bases, but standing limply in the batters' box, an opportunity having passed him by. It's roughly equivalent to Donruss distributing your sixth-grade yearbook photo in one of their sets.
I'm wondering if the guy who selected the photos for these cards was himself a former pitcher, hell-bent on making an example of any batter he could. He was a die-hard competitor, the kind of guy who never joked around with the other team, not even before a game, because they were his sworn enemies. There's enough oversight at the card company to keep him in check most of the time, but occasionally he slips one through the cracks. Strike three, Luis. Have a seat.