Athletes Making Ridiculous Feats Look Easy

Laura Depta@lauradeptaFeatured ColumnistAugust 5, 2014

Athletes Making Ridiculous Feats Look Easy

0 of 13

    Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

    Professional athletes are paid the big bucks to make ridiculous plays look easy—which can sometimes work to their disadvantage in the eyes of spectators.

    How often, as we're watching sporting events, do we utter the phrase, "Oh, come on, I could've [insert athletic verb] that!" Here's some knowledge: No, you couldn't have.

    You could not have made that throw any better than Peyton Manning or caught that ball any more easily than Santonio Holmes. You could not have made a better pass than Magic Johnson or broken tackles more easily than Marshawn Lynch.

    You could probably throw a ball to first base, though. Just saying, Shane Greene.

    Here, we take a look at some incredible plays that are made to look easy by the athletes who made them.

Dishonorable Mention: Throwing to First Base

1 of 13

    USA TODAY Sports

    I realize that throwing a baseball to first base quickly and under the pressure of a game situation is likely stressful and not altogether easy. But it's not a ridiculous feat by any means. 

    Tell that to Shane Greene. On July 21, 2014, Greene made his first start at Yankee Stadium, and twice, he made an error throwing to first base.

    The second error was particularly troubling—a straight lob way over the first baseman's head that would've made Chuck Knoblauch cringe. 

Yoenis Cespedes' Rocket to Home Plate

2 of 13

    On June 10, 2014, Yoenis Cespedes (still with the Oakland Athletics at the time) bobbled a ball in the outfield and immediately redeemed himself.

    He threw a Rick Ankiel-like rocket from the left field corner to nail Howie Kendrick at home plate.

    According to Alan Nathan, Professor Emeritus of Physics at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, had the ball left Cespedes' hand with just one degree of vertical difference at the release point, he would've missed home plate by five feet.

    In other words, he nailed it.

Blake Griffin Dunking Basketballs

3 of 13

    Dunking is certainly not easy, but it is something either very tall people or very talented high school players can do.

    No one makes dunking look easier than Blake Griffin. The second half of Lob City makes everyone look small, and he makes getting above the rim look like a walk in the park.

Peyton Manning Finding the Open Man

4 of 13

    Bill Kostroun/Associated Press

    Peyton Manning is often described as a cerebral quarterback—rightfully so. His dominance is less about his arm strength and athleticism than it is about his unreal ability to read defenses.

    Andy Benoit of MMQB provided a great analysis of a throw Manning made in a 2013 game against the New York Giants. Manning looked at three targets, read the defenders on each, started to fake a handoff and eventually completed an off-balance throw to the tight end.

    In real time, things like this look simple enough, but the football knowledge and quick-thinking ability of Manning should not be ignored.

Marshawn Lynch Running Anywhere, Ever

5 of 13

    They don't call him "Beast Mode" for nothing. Running straight ahead might seem easy, but not so much with a bunch of 250-pound men after your blood.

    Take this touchdown run vs. the New Orleans Saints for example. The strength and speed needed to break through the tackles—not to mention the agility (even more impressive)—are incredible.

Magic Johnson’s No-Look Pass

6 of 13

    Magic Johnson was one of the NBA's most prolific passers. An assist machine, he's fifth on the all-time list.

    It seems like all you would need to accomplish a patented Johnson no-looker would be some good peripheral vision.

    But in reality, do you have any idea the type of presence of mind and court awareness needed to pull off something like this—repeatedly?

Brian Harman Eagle Putts

7 of 13

    Hitting a little ball into a hole with a stick is not as easy as it sounds. In fact, anyone who's ever played mini golf can tell you that putting is no joke.

    That's why these two eagles from Brian Harman during the third round of the 2014 John Deere Classic were so incredible.

    He went on to win.

Santonio Holmes Keeps His Feet in Bounds

8 of 13

    I am the type of person who can't pat my head and rub my belly at the same time.

    So how a football player can both make an incredible catch and have the presence of mind to keep his feet in bounds at the same time is beyond me. (All this occurs while defenders are trying to demolish him, I might add.)

    Santonio Holmes' game-winning touchdown reception in Super Bowl XLIII is one of many examples.

Bo Jackson Breaking Bats

9 of 13

    Bo Jackson made breaking a baseball bat over his kneeand over his helmetlook easy.

    More recently, pitcher Jeff Samardzija did the same thing. Surely, if a pitcher can do this no problem, then it's probably not that hard, right?

    Wrong. Either Carlos Gomez's bat was made of iron, or this feat of strength is not as easy as we originally thought. 

Jairus Jones Interception and Lateral

10 of 13

    This one happens so quickly, you almost don't even notice the extreme focus that must've been needed to pull it off.

    Early in Michigan State's 2013 Rose Bowl season, Jairus Jones intercepted a ball against Western Michigan. He then had the laser focus and field presence to dump the ball off to a teammate as he was being tackled.

    Kurtis Drummond, the safety who caught the lateral and took it to the house, got most of the attention for this insane play—probably because Jones made that dish look so damn easy.

All Soccer Penalty Kicks

11 of 13

    Paul Gilham/Getty Images

    Taking a penalty kick in soccer—especially with the game on the line—might be one of the simplest-looking yet most mentally challenging tasks in sports.

    You might wonder how professional footballers could ever possibly shank a PK over the net, hit the post or miss wide entirely.

    Penalty kicks are nothing but a mind game between the shooter and the goalie. Goalies must decide which way to dive before the shooter ever moves a muscle. And shooters must try to somehow, imperceptibly, fool the goalie as to which direction they're aiming for.

    With that type of mental pressure bearing down, it's no wonder stuff like this occasionally happens.

Behind-the-Back Double Play

12 of 13

    This double play turned by Yunel Escobar and Ben Zobrist is one of the most effortless feats of defensive brilliance you'll ever see.

    It happens so quickly and smoothly, you barely even notice it. Escobar eats ground balls for breakfast, and Zobrist has no need for pesky gloves.

Michael Jordan Playing Basketball

13 of 13

    Or more specifically—Michael Jordan making 11 shots in a row like it ain't no thang.                               

    On August 4, 2014, at his basketball camp, Michael Jordan Flight School (aptly named), Jordan put on a show for his campers and their families. He drained 11 straight shots more easily than I can tie my shoe.

    He's still got it.