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Thread: Teaching the Knuckleball

  1. #1
    Redsmetz redsmetz's Avatar
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    Teaching the Knuckleball

    In looking something up about Phil Niekro (a report on his game where he didn't throw a knuckleball at all), I came across this story from last summer. Apparently the O's hired him to teach three minor league pitchers how to throw the knuckleball.

    http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/...chers-throw-it

    Interesting piece about the nature of the knuckleball, searching for why more pitchers don't learn the pitch; how the pitch works, etc.

    Question in this thread - who among Reds prospects could benefit from learning the knuckleball? As I recall, Jared Fernandez was the last knuckleballer we had and he wasn't terribly successful.
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    Daffy Duck RedTeamGo!'s Avatar
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    Re: Teaching the Knuckleball

    I think Mike Leake is a candidate to learn the knuckleball. He would be nasty if he even had a decent one.

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    BEETTLEBUG (01-16-2014)

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    Vavasor TRF's Avatar
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    Re: Teaching the Knuckleball

    This is just an opinion, but Knuckleballers don't seem to fare well in April. The cooler weather doesn't let the ball dance as much. When it is hotter you get better results.

    If I were a team in the south, Like Atlanta, Texas, maybe STL. I think developing a knuckleballer would be a good idea.
    Suck it up cupcake.

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    Daffy Duck RedTeamGo!'s Avatar
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    Re: Teaching the Knuckleball

    Steve Sparks was solid in Detroit. Tim Wakefield pitched the majority of his career in Boston. Dickey was successful in New York.

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    Beer is good!! George Anderson's Avatar
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    Re: Teaching the Knuckleball

    I think like the article says it is a very hard pitch to throw. In my 17 years as an umpire I really don't recall seeing a knuckleball pitcher or atleast a good one.
    "Boys, I'm one of those umpires that misses 'em every once in a while so if it's close, you'd better hit it." Cal Hubbard

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    Chip R (01-16-2014)

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    Vavasor TRF's Avatar
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    Re: Teaching the Knuckleball

    Dickey's knuckleball is... different. He throws it hard, in the 60's and 70's. and he can get a FB in there 80+, up to 85 I believe.

    Wakefield is an interesting case. His success is, IMO a combination of pitching in the AL + ability to throw a ton of pitches + excellent run support. Put him in the NL, and I don't think managers would allow him to get the innings he got.

    Sparks is a footnote in Knuckleballer history. 1 really good season. He was a rookie at age 29.
    Suck it up cupcake.

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    Daffy Duck RedTeamGo!'s Avatar
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    Re: Teaching the Knuckleball

    Quote Originally Posted by TRF View Post
    Sparks is a footnote in Knuckleballer history. 1 really good season. He was a rookie at age 29.
    Sparks is one of my favorite "footnotes" in baseball history. He was one of the only bright spots on a dreadful Tigers team and not many people outside of Detroit/Toledo had any idea who he was. It was fun to watch him pitch when he was on, he could make the best hitters look foolish and he just seemed like a regular joe.

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    Vavasor TRF's Avatar
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    Re: Teaching the Knuckleball

    Sparks is a testament to just how hard it is to throw a knuckleball. it took him years to learn to throw it, and he had one good year at age 35.

    If a team could identify 3-4 guys in low A or rookie ball, and develop them all through the minors, that'd be something.
    Suck it up cupcake.

  12. #9
    Stat geek...and proud
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    Re: Teaching the Knuckleball

    Isn't he also the guy who hurt his shoulder tearing a phone book in half?

  13. #10
    Daffy Duck RedTeamGo!'s Avatar
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    Re: Teaching the Knuckleball

    Quote Originally Posted by gilpdawg View Post
    Isn't he also the guy who hurt his shoulder tearing a phone book in half?
    Haha, I don't know about that but I do remember Joel Zumaya hurting his arm playing Guitar Hero.

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    SERP deep cover ops WebScorpion's Avatar
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    Re: Teaching the Knuckleball

    Phil also taught the knuckler to Dennis Springer who had a little success with it. Bob Purkey was probably the best knuckleball pitcher the Reds have ever had. I seem to recall hearing the Senators had a 4-man 'all knuckleball rotation' one year. Also, Eddie Cicotte of the 1919 'Black Sox' was a knuckleballer. He threw the first pitch of the 1919 World Series into the back of the Reds' leadoff man Morrie Rath, which was purported to be the signal that the 'fix was on'. Eddie was one of the 8 players banned from baseball for his role in the fiasco.


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    always ask questions bigredmechanism's Avatar
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    Re: Teaching the Knuckleball

    Quote Originally Posted by TRF View Post
    This is just an opinion, but Knuckleballers don't seem to fare well in April. The cooler weather doesn't let the ball dance as much. When it is hotter you get better results.

    If I were a team in the south, Like Atlanta, Texas, maybe STL. I think developing a knuckleballer would be a good idea.
    If true, it almost isn't worth it considering October baseball is often very cold.
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  16. #13
    Hisssssssss Yachtzee's Avatar
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    Re: Teaching the Knuckleball

    Quote Originally Posted by bigredmechanism View Post
    If true, it almost isn't worth it considering October baseball is often very cold.
    From what I've read in the past, I think the knuckleball is tough to throw consistently and so it takes a while for the pitcher to get a handle on it properly, even if they are experienced. I've heard knuckleballers throw a lot more on the side than regular pitchers to get good results. So it could be a matter of pitchers needing time to get into the groove. I'd be interested to see splits on early vs. late season performance to see if it's a weather issue or a "need to throw it more" issue.
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    Re: Teaching the Knuckleball

    It's a pretty difficult pitch to learn, and those that learn it often have very little success with it. If the ball comes out spinning at all it's going to be crushed somewhere far away (if it's a strike).

    I tried throwing some a while ago, and 80% of them didn't make it 50 feet.

  18. #15
    Matt's Dad RANDY IN INDY's Avatar
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    Re: Teaching the Knuckleball

    Quote Originally Posted by jhiller21 View Post
    I tried throwing some a while ago, and 80% of them didn't make it 50 feet.
    Why?
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