Friday, December 19, 2008

Dice K's Gyroball: It's No Knuckleball

A few years ago there was a lot of speculation about the gyroball pitch, which was supposed to be a new pitch that Dice-K was bringing to the majors from Japan. The idea that there was a new, mysterious and hard to master pitch made me think of the knuckler, of course. As many may know by now, the gyroball is not really that mysterious. In fact, it is essentially just another breaking ball, according to smart people like Will Carroll, who hangs out with smart people like Rob Neyer. In fact, the video below is a pretty good explanation, though with English subtitles, about the gyroball in Japan and Dice-K's use of it. The video makes me think that Dice-K just happens to throw a pitch that has the effects of the gyroball. It does not appear he ever intentionally tried to create and master the gyroball.

And really, the gyroball just seems to be a pitch with a lot of movement, though not nearly as slow as a knuckler. So, I continue to feel that the knuckler is still the most mysterious and the most consistently difficult pitch to master and hit.

R.A. Dickey

As a former Nashvillian who worked not too far from Montgomery Bell Academy, I'm a big fan of R.A. Dickey. He has not had a ton of success as a knuckler, but it has allowed him to keep playing a kid's game for a nice salary long after injuries robbed him of his natural talent. Below is one of the better videos I have seen trying to explain/show how to throw a knuckleball. It's a hard thing to tame.

By the way, how did Capel get to do this story? Buster Olney is the Vandy grad who really knows Dickey's old stomping grounds the best.

Return of The Neikro Knuckler?

So, I just learned that Lance Neikro is making a comeback as a knuckleball pitcher. Lance is the former first base prospect for the Giants who went bust. His dad, Joe, recently passed away and way too young, but won over 200 games as a knuckler. Lance's uncle is Braves great and Hall of Famer Phil Neikro. Phil is even helping Lance develop the pitch, which he has played with since he was 13.

I've heard that constant trial and error is what makes the good knucklers more successful. No one would have better access to trial and error knowledge than Lance. The funny part is that if he were successful, he could play for another 18 years or so. Below is a video of him warming up for the one inning of pro pitching he did as a minor leaguer years ago. Here's hoping he'll be good.

Here's a humorous take on Lance's story.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

The World of the Knuckleball

Well, I'm a big baseball fan, especially of the Atlanta Braves. This is my first foray into baseball blogging, though I'm a frequent reader at I've always been a fan of the mysterious pitch known as the knuckleball, which is the niche I have chosen as the focus of this blog. Hopefully this will go well and I can semi-regularly post about this difficult to master and hit pitch.

So, my first bit of news is about this Japanese high school girl, Eri Yoshida, who was signed to a pro team in Japan. Based on reaction from blogs, most people think this is just a publicity stunt. Personally, I would love it if this girl had talent. In some ways, the gender segregation of sports doesn't add up. In some sports, the best females are often better than the worst males, meaning some females could fill the 25th and possibly 24th spot on rosters just as easily as the males who make up spot 24 or 25.

Anyway, the neat thing about Yoshida is that she wants to be like Tim Wakefield, the ageless BoSox hurler who is the last above average knuckler in the majors. I sure hope another like him comes along soon.