There’s nothing like a naturally occurring optical illusion — and that’s exactly what Major League Baseball (MLB) delivered on Monday.

Chris Vannini, a senior writer for The Athletic, posted a puzzling picture to Twitter that night, showing a screenshot of ESPN hosts Chris Berman, Jeff Passan and Tim Kurkjian at the MLB Home Run Derby.

It may sound like an ordinary setup but puzzled viewers couldn’t help but notice a significant size disparity between the men.

Berman — on the left — looked to be the biggest, followed by Passan in the middle, while Kurkjian — on the far right — appeared to be the smallest.

“Is Chris Berman 2x the size of Jeff Passan and 4x the size of Tim Kurkjian?” a baffled Vannini asked on Twitter in a post that received more than 46,000 likes and topped 2,700 retweets.

Twitter users found the image hilarious and confusing.
Twitter users found the image hilarious and confusing.

Spoiler alert: Although Berman is reasonably taller than the others — he’s 6-foot-5, while Passan is 5-foot-9 and Kurkjian is 5-foot-5 — optical trickery via an extreme side angle played a part in creating the illusion that Berman was larger than life.

In another angle, however, Berman appeared to be closer in size to his co-hosts.

But that didn’t stop Twitter users from having some fun and answering Vannini’s hilarious question.

“This is an ESPN Matryoshka doll,” one user joked.

“Holy s–t – it certainly looks that way Russian nesting dolls style,” another agreed.

“[david attenborough voice] while their domesticated counterparts can be trained in sportscasting, in the wild Chris Bermans can grow up even larger—up to two and a quarter meters tall. Tim Kurkjians, meanwhile, use their small size to scavenge in rocky crevices,” joked another.

One viewer even compared the scene to a May 2021 photo of President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden with former President Jimmy Carter and his wife, Rosalynn, in which the Carters appeared diminutive compared to the current White House residents.

Berman, Passan and Kurkjian have yet to weigh in on social media regarding the illusion.


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Tyler Cowan