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Wednesday, March 07, 2007

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Probably a slider or something.

He's got nasty breaking pitches, so this crap isn't going to go away. We're going to be hearing about it all year, even when Matsuzaka himself says he doesn't throw anything special.

It's definitely encouraging. Farrell says it's the change-up, but it's crazy if you've got Major League hitters saying they've never seen a pitch before. This really could be a fun season.

For a right hand hitter to have enough rotation on his ball to give it clockwise rotation and break, his fingers either need to be really long like Pedro's, or his wrist needs to be really, really strong and really, really fast. It's easy to throw it, but it's not so easy to throw it that way and be anywhere near the plate or over forty MPH. I really don't think it's possible, but if he can throw it, he's going to make alot of people sit still as it comes at them. I love hitting the breaking ball, but if I ever had to guess at which way it was going to break, it would be damn near impossible.
I would love if this is true, and if his changeup is all that is, I'm even happier.

right hand pitcher, I mean.

I believe Carl Hubbel was the most famous practitioner of a pitch that broke against the grain, so to speak. Did pretty well for him.

Paul touched on the major point here, not to be overlooked, is that these are MLB hitters saying they have never seen this pitch before. That's nothing short of amazing, what ever the hell the pitch is, what ever name it has.

It's the freeze factor. When the normal breaking ball or slider is thrown, the hitter instantly recognizes what it is, and only has to decide if it's a strike or not. If this ball breaks against the grain, as YF said, and the rotation is opposite, the hitter will freeze at first thinking ball, and notice the spin and break too late. This will also make the inside ball (even if it breaks late and little) almost impossible to lay off of for fear of taking the strike if it breaks enough.
It's not something any of us has seen too often, and for me, never. At least not with any consistency. It's almost like when you pull the string on the curve, you'd have to have your palm facing towards third base instead of first. I can't imagine throwing it (not a pitcher at all and never have been) with any real speed or accuracy. It's amazing if he can do it when he needs to and has confidence in it.

Someone needs to chaperone this lovefest.

All this is based on the opinion of 2 guys who have a total of 348 major league AB's between them. Stokes has yet to play a game in the bigs. I'll buy into this hype a little more when a guy with real experience co-signs it.

As a yf, I have to say I was somewhat encouraged by Dice's outing yesterday - while his control was impressive, he hung some curves. But for a strong wind blowing in, or a lucky bounce (take your pick) he would have given up 1 or 2 runs to a light hitting lineup.

It sounds like the actual meaning of a gyro ball as described by the ESPN ETicket story which describes a Gyroball as something between a splitter and a change up.

I get more and more optimistic every time I read this stuff, but I still want to see these pitches against the real meat over more innings before being totally sold... Nonetheless, he sure hasn't disappointed yet, and he claims to be only "40-50%".

Uhh...isn't being encouraged by the fact that Matsuzaka might have given up another 1 or 2 hits in his second ST game about as ridiculous as an SF being thrilled to see Wang hit kind of hard in his?

Anyway this doesn't sound like a gyro, it sounds like the shuuto, which Will Carroll once confused with the gyro. Popular in Japan, but not many guys stateside will throw it. Wikipedia describes it as faster than a curve or slider, with less downward break then a screwball, and less speed with more lateral break than a 2-seamer. Very likely that Hermida and Stokes have never seen it. I guess it could also be a change, but I would guess Hermida and Stokes know what a changeup looks like by now. They do play baseball for a living...even a minor leaguer can tell pitches apart. They just can't necessarily do it quickly enough to, you know, make contact.

All this is based on the opinion of 2 guys who have a total of 348 major league AB's between them. Stokes has yet to play a game in the bigs. I'll buy into this hype a little more when a guy with real experience co-signs it.

Wow, so guys who have played baseball their entire lives, and have now cracked the sports' highest professional level don't have "real experience"? I know we're not talking about a 7 or 8 year veteran, but certainly these are bona fide Major League ballplayers, so their opinion has to be worth something. They aren't saying that Daisuke is going to be successful, just that they saw something unique. That's cool at the very least, right?

"Uhh...isn't being encouraged by the fact that Matsuzaka might have given up another 1 or 2 hits in his second ST game about as ridiculous as an SF being thrilled to see Wang hit kind of hard in his?"

Uhh... if you were watching or listening to the game you would know that I was talking about the GRD, which without the wind or the lucky bounce would have either been a HR or run scorer.
I was encouraged by the fact that he was far from unhittable; and truth be told, I imagine more than a few SF's were quite happy to see Wang up in the zone getting whacked as well. Meaningless? maybe. Ridiculous? No.

Andrew, do you expect the guy to never give up a homerun? It's two big leaguers saying that his pitches were gross, so why do you feel the need to shat on their "experience" or ability to recognize a great pitch? I guess, since it wasn't said by a Yankee, it doesn't count as real information.

But I guess it's better to reflect on the ball that was hit hard more than the three scoreless innings which drew praise from the opposing hitters. I guess we all just talk about what blows our hair back.

SF, I refuse to get into another long semantic argument with you - but isn't the definition of a major leaguer someone who has actually played in a major league game? Stokes hasn't.
If this is all it takes to convince you, fine. I'll believe it when a guy who's been around awhile signs on.
If the pitch does exist, then yeah, that's cool. I'm just tired of all the silly denials, hype, etc. If the pitch exists, frickin' admit you throw it. Guys know Wakefield's got a knuckleball, but that doesn't seem to help them when he throws it well.

God, we are bored. This is 3 innings of work, guys. Basing anything off of this is ridiculous. I think Jason Anderson had 3 good innings one time, too. Can we please just wait till near the end of ST before we start judging?

"I guess we all just talk about what blows our hair back"

Those in glass houses...

Look, all I know is Papelbon just made a couple of hitters in a row cry. One frozen for strike two on an awesome curve ball (I think...it had vertical movement and was clocked at 77), then had the fastball blown by him away for strike 3...the next guy frozen on a fastball for strike 3. Yay, Papelbon!

Manny just got his first hit of spring training (following his fourth or fifth (?) walk of the season in the first inning)...off the wall in left-center it looked like...but a single.

Manny being Manny.

"I guess we all just talk about what blows our hair back"

I am bald, for the record.

Box score says I lied and it was a double. He was batted in by Drew with another double.

All this is based on the opinion of 2 guys who have a total of 348 major league AB's between them.

No, Andrews, all this is based on the opinion of two guys who have seen more than 1,500 pitches between them and have not seen a single one act the way Matsuzaka's did.

God, I am hardly saying that Daisuke's ST efforts are any indication of anything. I am just saying that if lifelong baseball players, including guys who have cracked the Majors, are seeing something completely NEW, then that's cool, at the very least, no matter whether those guys have played 5 years or 1/5th of a year.

This cynicism is stultifying. I prefer to live with a sense of wonder, at least for the moment. A never-before-seen pitch, attested to by a legit MLB talent? What's not cool about that?!

Okay, I'm going on the record with this right now:
Beckett and Papelbon are going to battle all year for the title of Red Sox ace. I really think Papelbon has a chance to dominate this year. Tear it apart all you want, but from what I've seen, that breaking ball freezes guys off that fastball. It's gross, the difference in the two.

Really Andrews, come on, not a single person is saying this means anything, we just think it's amazing that guys that have played the game their entire lives and now play the game at the highest levels, have never seen anything like it, not on film, not messing around in practice in college, or the minors, or at any time while with the big clubs. That's a cool thing, nothing more, no matter what uniform the pitcher or batters are wearing.

"I am just saying that if lifelong baseball players, including guys who have cracked the Majors, are seeing something completely NEW"

And I'm just saying I won't buy it until guys with much more experience than these two say it. My god - have one doubt, and it's treated like treason.

" all this is based on the opinion of two guys who have seen more than 1,500 pitches between them"

That, Paul, speaks for itself.

"This cynicism is stultifying. I prefer to live with a sense of wonder, at least for the moment"

SF, that's the funniest thing you've said in a long while. Hilarious!

Donnelly ain't got it today as he gives up 2 and is pulled with 2 out and runners on 2nd and 3rd.

Can Okajima be the hero in the dark today?

Nah. Damion Easley crushes it to left. Tie game.

I think Paul's math is off. If they've been playing baseball for the bulk of their lives, I can't imagine the pitches they've seen since starting in pro ball. It's gotta be well more than 1,500, by a significant factor.

The good news is that the starters gave up nary a run between 'em. The bad news is that the bullpen is thus far shaping up about as I expected...(I know, it's early, blah blah, but I've always thought this bullpen was...not...good.)

The 1,500 is how many pitches Hermida has seen since coming to the Major Leagues. It's a small number, relatively speaking, but still -- 1,500 pitches almost certainly encompasses at least one variation of each pitch thrown by Major League pitchers. The fact that this is different from any of those is pretty amazing.

Andrews:

I may be argumentative, but cynical about the romance of baseball I am not. I always felt that what differentiated baseball from other sports (and if this is a stolen line from someone then forgive me, maybe it's something my Dad told me when I was little that he learned from someone else) is that you can go to a game and see something you've never seen before on any given night. I was in attendance at the only game in MLB history in which there were two triple plays. I saw Barry Bonds nearly hit a ball OVER the right field bleachers at Yankee Stadium. I was at a Sox game in 1988 during Morgan Magic when a fan shimmied down the guide wire from the luxury boxes to the screen behind home plate and ran up into the old press box and exited throught the TV booth. I was at a game in St. Louis where Kevin Mitchell hit a home run that had to have topped 500 feet. The biggest homer I ever saw at Fenway was a shot by Pete Incaviglia that seemed like it cleared the top of a light stanchion at Fenway Park. I saw Pedro whiff Bonds, McGwire, Sosa at the '99 All-Star game. You can't go to a football game and expect to see uniqueness. So Daisuke's special pitch, the one that has pro ballplayers bewildered in what sounds like an awe-filled way, appeals to me as a story. Greatly.

Haha, well, Burgos is certainly in mid-season form. Gives up the game-ending grand slam to a scrub.

Red Sox walk off an a granny by Ed Rogers (this makes me think of a combination of Mr. Ed and Buck Rogers...awesome).

"So Daisuke's special pitch, the one that has pro ballplayers bewildered in what sounds like an awe-filled way, appeals to me as a story. Greatly."

Overstatment aside, does this pitch even exist? For those two players who said the pitch looked unusual, I've heard several analysts say that there was no such pitch. They even had a segment during yesterday's broadcast (marlins announcers) on xm in which they asked pitching analysts for both teams who were sitting behind home plate whether they saw the gyro. Both answered in the negative.
If the pitch does in fact exist, them I'm agree that it's a cool thing. I only feel I should wait until more experienced hitters weigh in before signing on with the faithful.

It's not a question of whether the pitch was a gyro. The pitch Matsuzaka threw that befuddled the Marlins' hitters certainly existed. It was thrown, it was befuddling. End of story.

I don't think it was a gyro. But regardless of whether it was a changeup (as Farrell said) or a cutter (as Matsuzaka said) or a combo between change and a splitter (as Hermida said), the fact remains that it breaks in an extremely unusual way -- so unusual that two hitters who have seen tens of thousands of pitches in pro ball at all levels and roughly 1,500 pitches at the highest level have never, ever seen it before.

And that is very cool.

"It's not a question of whether the pitch was a gyro"

Yes it is, or we wouldn't have this silly hype.

" two hitters who have seen tens of thousands of pitches in pro ball at all levels and roughly 1,500 pitches at the highest level have never, ever seen it before."

That's intense spin on one minor leaguer and one MLer going into what will be his second full season.

Talk to me when someone who commands more respect says the same thing.

Props to YF for the Carl Hubbel reference.

Andrews, at this point I'm just amused that you don't think that two pro ball players have enough experience to know if it's a pitch that is currently thrown in baseball, regardless of MLB time, these two guys have seen more pitches from the batters box than 90% of the analysts and reporters out there.

Once again...not a gyro. If it broke down and in on a right-hander it was almost certainly a shuuto, or just a filthy change. Some of the stuff I've read have the gyro breaking away like a slider, some have it going straight...I don't recall reading anything besides Will Carroll's initial article that said it broke in on a righty. (He got it confused with the shuuto)

"Uhh... if you were watching or listening to the game you would know that I was talking about the GRD, which without the wind or the lucky bounce would have either been a HR or run scorer."

I knew what you were talking about, pal. I was mostly just questioning the intelligence of getting excited because, wow, 3 whole pitches got hit kinda well earlier today. (2 hits and that liner back to the pitcher) The story posted here about Wang yesterday was left completely alone by SF's...just to point that out. I guess it's OK to smile a bit when someone from a rival team struggles, even in a ST game...I just don't think it's worth getting worked up about.

Anyway, no post on Schil's new blog? (via Deadspin)

On the flip side, the two batters don't have the 90 million cameras in slow motion that 90% of the analysts and reporters do..

Memory and vision is easily malleable. Especially with something with so much hype. One or two eyewitness isn't worth a damn.

It's not spin, Andrews. It's reality. These players, regardless of their experience at the Major League level, have actually made it there, and they have actually seen thousands of pitches by professional, MLB pitchers. None of those pitches broke the way Matsuzaka's did. Does it mean Matsuzaka's throwing a gyroball, as opposed to a shuuto or a crazy-spinning change? No. Does it mean Matsuzaka's now a lock to dominate the AL? No. Does the pitch mean anything at all if he can't locate it? No.

Does it mean that it's pretty damn exciting to have a pitcher who can break off a pitch in early March these professional, Major League hitters have never seen before? Heck yeah.

Wow, so guys who have played baseball their entire lives, and have now cracked the sports' highest professional level don't have "real experience"?

The world is full of ballplayers who were the best athletes their towns ever saw who eventually discovered they can't hit a major-league curveball (or make it out of AAA)

The Sox paid $103 million because they think this guy is great, and they do know something about baseball. On the other hand, Beckett 2006 and Clements. Once Dice-K has been through a 1/3 to 1/2 the season, we'll be getting a pretty good idea of whether or not the Sox gambled well.

Young pitcher, highly lauded, arrives on scene with supposed arsenal of oddball pitches, but has never pitched in MLB. Said pitches might be the stuff of myth, said pitches may not. Said pitches may exist, they may not.

Pitcher throws to Major League talent. Major League talent leaves batters box with head shaking (didn't see this, but it sounds good, right?) remarking about pitch that actually acted like nothing they ever saw before in their years in baseball.

HOW IS THIS NOT COOL!?!?!?!? Forget the uniform -- this is why baseball is great.

..."questioning the intelligence of getting excited......I just don't think it's worth getting worked up about."

I said: "As a yf, I have to say I was somewhat encouraged" In my book, that's a long way from excited or worked up, pal. With the buildup this guy has gotten, at this point anything less than a cross between Bob Gibson and Don Drysdale is encouraging.

"these professional, Major League hitters"

"Pitcher throws to Major League talent"

Explain how Stokes is a major league hitter if he's never had any ML AB's.

obviously me

"HOW IS THIS NOT COOL!?!?!?!?"

Because I'm sick to death of the hype, that's why. I wish we could fast forward to opening day and find out what is fact and what is fiction...

It's cool for SFs. For YFs it's wait and see.

John, I am saying forget the uniform. I understand the Daisuke fatigue. I am just talking about the situation, which is what my 5:53 comment was supposed to highlight.

I love baseball for stories just like this one, breathless or not. You guys just sound like major curmudgeons, frankly!

Whatever, Andrews...the tone of your first post seemed to be, 'Whoa, way too many smiling SF's...better find something to sh*t on their parade' about. Could very well have been at least partially in jest, but it irked me a bit. Not so much because of what you said, just how you said it and what the point of the message seemed to be. Not a huge deal, I guess...I'm probably just thin-skinned from staying up til 5 writing a paper. Which I will most likely be doing for the next two nights. F*cking procrastination...

Peace

So after a few days of spring training if Hughes looked like the Bird you'd be excited? I don't think so.

I'd be excited if I were at spring training. I'm excited the Yanks are at spring training. But I'm not excited about a Sox pitcher, and nobody other than Tigers fans were excited about Fidrych in spring training.

The only problem here SF, is being excited isn't good enough for you. You've got to tell YFs they're curmudgeons.

You know what I don't get about baseball sportswriters and reporters and Josh Beckett? They keep saying how his blister problem really was caused by him throwing breaking stuff, and that even in 2006 he felt the onset of blisters FROM his breaking stuff, and that's why he failed last year, but they point to his being injury-free in 2006 as a sign that he won't get blisters anymore.

How can people be this dense? I think the most likely thing to happen in 2007, when Beckett takes his lessons from 2006 that his 97mph fastball can still be hit like it's batting practice, and incorporates breaking stuff into his repertoir, he'll get injured. Why? Because that's what ALWAYS HAPPENED with him. And that's why his case is different. He's got the talent, sure, but his body can't take throwing breaking balls. Either he sucks and is healthy, or he's good but injured. I really don't think any other prediction is as likely.

Has the eczema thing not been mentioned here? Apparently the medical staff think (and color me skeptical) that his blisters resulted from eczema and he's on a treatment now.

I dunno about that. Seems likely someone in Florida would've considered that at some point. But hey, if he continues to not be injured...awesome.

John, you are missing the point. See my posts throughout. This Daisuke thing is a perfect example of why baseball is such a wonderful sport. But the only lens through which you guys see it is the YF/SF lens. This isn't just a hyped phenom throwing, this is a hyped phenom supposedly throwing a pitch players had never seen before. There's a difference. And it's cool.

It's of little matter to me that the player wears a Sox uniform, you can believe that or not. So yeah, you guy are curmudgeonly in this case, since the only way you are able to view this kind of story is as an "us versus them" thing, not as one of many tales that collectively make baseball such a rich sport.

Devine, I considered posting on the subject a couple days ago but was swamped with work. It seems incredible that Florida would not have made that seemingly obvious connection (skin problem connected to skin problem. no?) but who knows.

SF - you're right. YFs should think what SFs want them to think, and be excited in early spring training about super-hyped players on their historic and recent rivals.

And I've got a bridge near your condo to sell you.

You know you COULD just enjoy this without trying to tell others what to think.

Manhattan or Brooklyn?

I could certainly understand Sox fans being excited about a story like this, nothing wrong with that.

But to expect Yankee fans to be as giddy as SF and Paul about this is asking a bit much I think. Heh.

Some how SF, if DMat were in pinstripes and this story came out, I somehow doubt you'd be using COOL as an adjective to describe it.

Now, the first time DMat gets shelled and knocked out of the game early. Now THAT'LL be COOL!

I am not asking YFs to be AS excited. I am merely pointing out that this story, like many Bunyanesque tales that have preceded it, is, to me, what makes baseball such a wonderful sport. Not so controversial, I didn't think.

Like I said last night I really am excited to see this guy pitch, but not because he throws a ball that spins clock wise. See the ball hit the ball, Daisuke is not Bugs Bunny. His ball is not going to spin like a cyclone or a tornado. After a time or two through, it's not going to matter which way the ball spins if you can adjust. Right now it's new to these guys, but that doesn't make it unhittable (I know that nobody said that). One thing and maybe Brad could back me up here since he played college ball, throwing a baseball is unatural to begin with. Add to that a righty who can make a ball spin clock wise, but yet get it to break into a righty....sounds like a pitch he doesn't/cannot throw to frequently. I coach at the HS level and I can honestly say I hope the technique never gets made public, that's all my kids need to learn!

Throwing a baseball is completely unnatural and harmful to the body. That being said, if I had it all to do over again, I most certainly would. I never had a problem less a small operation to repair a tendon in my finger, but that was from HBP, not throwing. But, if you think other wise just go out in your backyard, toss a tennis ball against the wall as hard as you can ten times. Check the status of that arm the next day, and I promise it'll hurt a 'bit. Throw it underhand as hard as you can like in chick softball, and you'll never feel a thing - ever. The motion goes against the natural way your arm is supposed to move. Again, though - I'd do it all again given the chance (and I'd take it a lot more serious too!)

But to expect Yankee fans to be as giddy as SF and Paul about this is asking a bit much I think.

I agree, WE. You'll note that we didn't ask YFs to be as excited as we were. Andrews started this debate by essentially saying, "You're TOO excited, so let me nitpick the source of this information and knock you down some notches." We called him on it, etc.

The amazing inability to acknowledge that Matsuzaka might even be throwing a commonly used pitch with a variation that has been rarely seen by today's major leaguers is astounding to me, particularly considering a major league hitter and another professional-level hitter have each said they've never seen anything like it. Let's just get past this acceptance of the facts first; THEN we can talk about how excited YFs should be.

Here's a pretty cool compilation of the shuuto being thrown by various Japanese pitchers. Looking at the video of Hermeda popping up in the first inning of the Marlins game, I'd say it's most likely just Matsuzaka's changeup...but I'm not totally sure. I can't really read the radar gun so I can't gauge the velocity well enough to decide.

...it matters little to me if he has a trick pitch, but the sf's are entitled to get a little buzz over it...let 'em enjoy...they know it's still early yet, and the 2 baffled players were at least pros even if 1 of them didn't have any ml experience...to me the excitement is that he's getting guys out and not giving up runs, in other words, living up to expectations...we didn't spend a lot of time on it, but i was similarly encouraged by hughes' good outing the other day, but i'll restrain from hyping that too much, since it's still early...

i found it interesting that carl hubbell was referenced on this "new pitch" discussion. hubbell has been considered the father of the modern screwball. christy mathewson had been throwing a pitch called the fadeaway, with the same screwball action, almost 30 years prior to hubbell. carls ball had diffferent action due to him being left handed, but was thrown and gripped the same way as christys.

where have all the good nicknames gone? "meal ticket" and "the christian gentleman" are two alltime greats.

i want buy D-mat frist game used ball!
where may buy?tell me please !help!thanks!

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