Step aside, Kim Kardashian. You may have broken the internet with your cosmetically enhanced derrière in 2014, but these days, it takes an organically sourced booty to set social media aflame. Witness, for example, the quarter-million likes on this clip of Oakland Athletics catcher Sean Murphy taking an errant baseball to the ass in a game against the Tampa Bay Rays:
Hailed by one viewer as “the sexiest hit by pitch in recorded history,” the play inspired countless admiring remixes and fancams, along with references to iconic butt memes such as the “Double Cheeked Up” interview. No doubt the sport gained many new fans — unaware till now of its reputation for producing this kind of posterior — but the hypnotic jiggle of this booty also raises an important question: Do the butts of MLB players reign supreme among the entirety of men’s sports? Or have we overlooked other contenders?
The athletic honor of Most Valuable Buns, it turns out, has a lot to do with the era, and what kind of sporting events make it onto your television. The mid-2010s, for example, were glory days for soccer asses. The French player Antoine Griezmann earned a hashtag, #lesfessesdegriezmann (“les fesses” means “the buttocks”), with admirers sharing images of his butt from every angle during matches and workouts. A Belgian player, Eden Hazard, had his ass featured on @EdenHazardsAss, a Twitter account that posted about literally nothing else. And Queerty ran a slideshow titled “The Best Butts and Bulges in Male Soccer.” But for these stars, the shapely glutes weren’t just glamor muscles: They also came in handy when blocking defenders.
An enlightening old thread on Reddit’s r/gaybros, meanwhile, indicates how geographic region helps determine your preference for the behinds of a specific game. Canadians are more aware than most of “hockey butt,” the large, powerful rump that develops from years of skating and can make finding a pair of jeans that fits a near-impossible task. While Americans may like the form-fitting spandex that shows off football players’ beefier backsides, the rest of the anglophone world only has eyes for rugby scrums in which groups of muddy men in shorts pile atop one another. Whatever your appetites, though, there’s no shortage of ass to go around.
There’s no consensus to be found here — the beauty of a given man’s butt is in the eye of the beholder, after all. But I have a theory as to why baseball butts often rise to the top of the rankings. While a wide range of sports incentivize and demand the toning of gluteal muscles, most do not offer spectators the chance to savor the visual results of that training. In soccer and hockey, players are in constant motion; rugby and football crowd large teams together so that you sometimes can’t pick out one guy from the next. Baseball, however, is slow and spread out, the players crouching in the field, behind the plate or in the batter’s box. They have every opportunity to show off, as Sean Murphy did this week. Most importantly, they celebrate the ass itself with a homosocial ritual of celebratory spanks. They know their butts look glorious.
In the end, as with any other form of attraction, it’s that comfort and confidence that makes baseball a standout source of rear action. MLB stands for Major League Butts, and until another sport can embrace this part of the body with equal gusto, they will remain in the curvy shadow of caked-up, power-hitting shortstops. How do you think this got to be America’s pastime, anyway?