We had seen this bizarre video from Friday's Twins game, of Jared Burton decking Brian Duensing just as a home run sailed over the bullpen, but hadn't realized the mystery had been solved. The short answer: relievers have way too much time on their hands.
The pantomime was a year in the making, discovers the Pioneer Press's Mike Berardino. Former Twins reliever Matt Maloney had the idea of staging a knockout when a ball came near the bullpen, knowing the cameras would capture it. They tried it last season, and again earlier this year, but it wasn't until Friday that everything worked perfectly.
"As soon as it was hit, he goes, 'Come on. Punch me. Punch me,'" Burton recounted proudly. "I gave him the right hook and knocked him down."
"It's all in fun," Burton said. "I knew the ball was coming down and that camera was going to be zoomed in on us. I waited it out, afraid I was going to get hit with the ball. That's about as good of execution as you could ask for."