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Thread: Teaching the Knuckleball

  1. #16
    Start the Reactor! *BaseClogger*'s Avatar
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    Re: Teaching the Knuckleball

    Quote Originally Posted by TRF View Post
    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.
    He was nearly a league-average pitcher for his career until his last couple stops when he was 37 and 38. If you can take a mediocre pitching prospect and turn him into a league-average starting pitcher by teaching him the knuckleball that can be very valuable...
    "On-base percentage is great if you can score runs and do something with that on-base percentage," Baker said. "Clogging up the bases isn't that great to me."

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  3. #17
    Hisssssssss Yachtzee's Avatar
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    Re: Teaching the Knuckleball

    Quote Originally Posted by RANDY IN INDY View Post
    Why?
    I don't know about him, but when I tried to throw it, I found that, while I could throw it with no spin by tossing it softly, any time you put any kind of velocity behind it, the ball would spin. In high school, I had a coach on my rec league team who pitched college ball at Colgate (before they cut the program). He was a junk ball pitcher who would show us how to throw pitches like the knuckleball and the forkball, although he forbid us from using practice time working on them because he didn't want us wasting time on trying to throw difficult pitches rather than working on fundamentals. So we'd try to throw it after practice. It was really tough to throw. Put too much oomph into it and it spins, not enough and it doesn't make it to the plate. Grip it too tight and is spins, not tight enough and it slips out of your hand wrong. I think throwing a knuckleball is as much an art as it is a science and sometime you just have to have a knack for throwing it.
    Burn down the disco. Hang the blessed DJ. Because the music that he constantly plays, it says nothing to me about my life.

  4. #18
    Redsmetz redsmetz's Avatar
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    Re: Teaching the Knuckleball

    Here's a piece on Niekro from last summer

    http://www.greenwichtime.com/sports/...ll-4667080.php

    BTW, I wouldn't think Leake would not be a good candidate to be a knuckleball pitcher, IMO. While he's a soft thrower, I think he understands what needs to be done to be effective. I think these days, you're going to see guys learn the pitch who might not otherwise have a successful MLB career, hence the O's (and via this cited article, the Braves) having Niekro working with some minor leagues. As I recall, the three O's pitchers were all a bit older for their levels.
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  5. #19
    Matt's Dad RANDY IN INDY's Avatar
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    Re: Teaching the Knuckleball

    Quote Originally Posted by Yachtzee View Post
    I don't know about him, but when I tried to throw it, I found that, while I could throw it with no spin by tossing it softly, any time you put any kind of velocity behind it, the ball would spin. In high school, I had a coach on my rec league team who pitched college ball at Colgate (before they cut the program). He was a junk ball pitcher who would show us how to throw pitches like the knuckleball and the forkball, although he forbid us from using practice time working on them because he didn't want us wasting time on trying to throw difficult pitches rather than working on fundamentals. So we'd try to throw it after practice. It was really tough to throw. Put too much oomph into it and it spins, not enough and it doesn't make it to the plate. Grip it too tight and is spins, not tight enough and it slips out of your hand wrong. I think throwing a knuckleball is as much an art as it is a science and sometime you just have to have a knack for throwing it.
    I agree that it is a difficult pitch to "tame" but I see kids throwing them all the time in practice, and a lot of them real good ones. I could throw a pretty good one when I was younger, but I never took the pitch real seriously, concentrating on the fastball, curve, slider and change. You always see people throwing them in baseball practice and like I said, a lot of them are really good.
    Talent is God Given: be humble.
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  6. #20
    Hisssssssss Yachtzee's Avatar
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    Re: Teaching the Knuckleball

    Quote Originally Posted by RANDY IN INDY View Post
    I agree that it is a difficult pitch to "tame" but I see kids throwing them all the time in practice, and a lot of them real good ones. I could throw a pretty good one when I was younger, but I never took the pitch real seriously, concentrating on the fastball, curve, slider and change. You always see people throwing them in baseball practice and like I said, a lot of them are really good.
    I'd say that's impressive, but I also think kids today focus more on one sport than they used to. For me and my friends, we played rec league ball in the summer and that was it. Sure, we played waffle ball or tossed the ball around on our own at times, but we also played soccer, golf, pick up basketball, sandlot football, and dabbled in various sports we saw on Wild World of Sports, like rugby, Australian Rules Football, and Cricket. One summer much of our time was spent building a dirt BMX track in the woods behind the school. I knew of one kid in our grade who played on a travel team with kids from other schools. The rest of us just hung out and did whatever. And when we hit middle school, chasing girls tended to push sports to the sideline. So by the time we were in high school, we still played baseball for fun, but since we had no illusions of playing beyond high school, we spent much of our non-baseball time either going out on dates, trying to get dates, or working part-time jobs to pay for dates. Spending time practicing the knuckleball just wasn't on the list of priorities.
    Burn down the disco. Hang the blessed DJ. Because the music that he constantly plays, it says nothing to me about my life.

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    RANDY IN INDY (01-20-2014)

  8. #21
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    Re: Teaching the Knuckleball

    Quote Originally Posted by Yachtzee View Post
    Spending time practicing the knuckleball just wasn't on the list of priorities.
    Spending time? Knuckleball practice is what warming up is all about.

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    RANDY IN INDY (01-20-2014)

  10. #22
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    Re: Teaching the Knuckleball

    Quote Originally Posted by kpresidente View Post
    Spending time? Knuckleball practice is what warming up is all about.
    Actually, rec league baseball in the early to mid-'80s was like a cross between "The Bad News Bears" and "Dazed and Confused, " with more mullets. From about 8th grade on, warm ups was a euphemism for going to smoke behind the equipment shed. Rather than Timmy Lupus, our worst player was a kid named "Oregano, " so called because our second baseman sold him a bag of the culinary herb, which he proceeded to smoke thinking it was weed and pretended to get high. We had one coach (the one before the Colgate pitcher) who drove a Camaro and looked like a cross between Woody Wooderson and Uncle Rico from Napoleon Dynamite. He had a pool party for us at the end of the season and had no qualms about passing out beer to the players. We were mostly latch-key kids and there were no Helicopter parents at practices. We would do a little extra throwing after practice while we hung out with the teammates whose parents were picking them up, but that was about it. I remember the Colgate coach getting the players that smoked to switch to dip because they wouldn't get short of breath running the bases.

    Today you can't imagine kids 14-17 years old openly smoking or doing dip, but back then my high school actually had an area in the parking lot called The Pit, where students could go smoke. Guys would use dip in study hall.
    Burn down the disco. Hang the blessed DJ. Because the music that he constantly plays, it says nothing to me about my life.

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    RANDY IN INDY (01-20-2014)

  12. #23
    Matt's Dad RANDY IN INDY's Avatar
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    Re: Teaching the Knuckleball

    You always hear about position players who have tremendous Knucklers!
    Talent is God Given: be humble.
    Fame is man given: be thankful.
    Conceit is self given: be careful.

    John Wooden

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    westofyou (01-20-2014)

  14. #24
    breath westofyou's Avatar
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    Re: Teaching the Knuckleball

    Quote Originally Posted by RANDY IN INDY View Post
    You always hear about position players who have tremendous Knucklers!

    Lots of infielders guys who just need to stretch out their arms daily

  15. #25
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    Re: Teaching the Knuckleball

    Quote Originally Posted by RANDY IN INDY View Post
    You always hear about position players who have tremendous Knucklers!
    Tim Wakefield, who couldn't hit a lick, has said that if his manager in the low minors hadn't seen him goofing around with the knuckleball (and convinced Pirate brass to give him a shot as a pitcher), he wouldn't have made it to High A ball.

    http://www.baseball-reference.com/mi...d=wakefi001tim

    Did any of you watch "The Next Knuckler?"
    How, then, are those people of the future—who are taking steroids every day—going to look back on baseball players who used steroids? They're going to look back on them as pioneers. They're going to look back at it and say "So what?" - Bill James, Cooperstown and the 'Roids


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