Turn Off Ads?
Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 15 of 25

Thread: Gyroball, the new pitch

  1. #1
    Member harangatang's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Posts
    1,552

    Gyroball, the new pitch

    http://sports.yahoo.com/mlb/news;_yl...yhoo&type=lgns

    ANAHEIM, Calif. – The search started Saturday afternoon. I was looking for the pitch that doesn't exist.

    I saw Daisuke Matsuzaka trotting off the field at Angel Stadium. He is the best pitcher in Japan, 25 years old with a grown-out mohawk streaked with red dye. His face is round, his body angular, his gait tall and proud. When he swooped into the dugout, I asked him about the gyroball.

    I'd asked Ichiro Suzuki if he knew about the gyroball, and he'd never heard of it. I'd asked the same of Michihiro Ogasawara, a veteran first baseman in Japan, and he looked at me like I queried him about UFOs.


    The gyroball is baseball's version of alien life. No one knows if they've seen it. No one knows what it looks like. No one knows much about it. Except there's a small pocket of American fans who graze the Internet champing to see Matsuzaka, because they're all convinced that he throws a gyroball and they're all convinced it will revolutionize the sport.

    There hasn't been a new pitch in baseball since the split-finger fastball, and it did everything from making Bruce Sutter a Hall of Famer to prolonging Roger Clemens' career by 10 years. Baseball evolves so slowly, unearthing a new pitch is like finding an Easter egg that happens to be filled with gold.

    In the minds of the gyro-obsessed, Matsuzaka is their 24-karat answer. So when he heard the gyroball question, chuckled and started talking, it was obvious he did know the pitch, and that maybe, just maybe, it existed after all.


    The concept of the gyroball was perfected in a supercomputer by two Japanese scientists named Ryutaro Himeno and Kazushi Tezuka. In simulations, they showed how a pitcher with good mechanics could throw the baseball in a way that it spun like a bullet – or, in sporting sense, like a perfect football spiral – and broke like nothing anyone has ever seen.

    Roughly translated, the title of their book is "The Secret of the Miracle Pitch," and it's loaded with anime cartoons and mathematical formulas that attempt to explain how to throw a gyroball.

    Diagrams started showing up on the Internet in 2002 and made their way onto message boards. That's where Will Carroll learned of the gyroball, and he has chased it like a fleeting dream ever since.

    Carroll writes a column for Baseball Prospectus analyzing injuries. Sound mechanics tend to create less arm problems, and the combination of Himeno and Tezuka's mechanical research with their discovery of the gyroball was like a chocolate sundae with more chocolate drizzled on top.

    "A good gyro is impossible to hit," Carroll said. "Even if you did hit it, you can't do anything with it. If you're lucky you're going to aim the sweet spot of the bat on it and hit it off the end."

    To throw a gyroball, a pitcher holds the side of the ball with a fastball grip. The pitcher's hips and throwing shoulder must be in near-perfect sync, something the book refers to as "double-spin mechanics." As the pitcher rotates his shoulder, he snaps his wrist and pulls down his fingers rather than flipping them over the ball, as happens with curveballs. The rotation is side over side. When the pitcher lets go, he must pronate his wrist, or turn it so the palm faces third base. It's like a right-hander throwing a screwball, only instead of the ball last touching the middle finger, it spins off the index finger.

    Ideally thrown, the gyroball should resemble a fat pitch, then take a sweeping turn away from a right-handed hitter. It's a slider on steroids, a cut fastball with science behind it, a testament to the aerodynamics of a baseball.

    When video of Matsuzaka surfaced on the Internet, gyroball denizens were convinced they'd trapped Bigfoot. The footage was grainy, and it was from an angle that made the gyro look no different than a regular breaking pitch. For some time, they weren't sure if there was a difference between a shuuto – the "shootball," a reverse slider thrown by Japanese pitchers – and a gyroball.

    Rather than rely on footage of a pitcher no one knew for sure threw a gyroball – Matsuzaka's pronation was the only evidence – Carroll decided to conduct a test of his own. A friend coached Oldenburg Academy, a small Indiana high school, and Carroll asked the team's ace, Joey Niezer, to try the pitch just to see the results.

    After 10 minutes, Niezer felt comfortable enough with the gyroball to keep using it. One time last season, Carroll said, a gyro started so far behind a batter that he leaned forward to avoid it, only to see the ball paint the inside corner, forcing him to lean back.

    "They move so much," Carroll said. "We're used to seeing curveballs that break 6 inches if they're good. A splitter that dives a foot. This thing breaks a foot if you're not good at it.

    "I've seen Joey's break 3 feet. It takes a left turn and heads to the dugout."

    Curiosity grew. Carroll said Curt Schilling asked him if the gyroball was real, or just some kind of April Fool's joke. With Matsuzaka pitching in the United States for the first time, it would provide the perfect opportunity to quiz the master of the gyroball.

    And of all the questions, the one Carroll wanted answered most was the simplest.

    "Please," Carroll said, "just ask him if he even throws it."


    At Japan's practice, I met Masa and Yasuko, two Japanese reporters who speak fluent English. Masa knew about Himeno and Tezuka's book, and he, too, seemed baffled by the gyroball. Yasuko had no idea what it is, but she found it interesting, plus she knew Matsuzaka from covering his team, the Seibu Lions.

    The three of us surrounded Matsuzaka and, with Masa translating, I asked if he knew about the gyroball.

    "Oh, yes," Matsuzaka said. "I'm trying to throw it."

    Turns out Daisuke Matsuzaka, the pitcher who would come to the United States and cause a revolution with his gyroball, doesn't throw one. He throws a fastball, a sinker, a changeup, a splitter and a filthy slider. He'd like to teach himself how to throw a gyroball, and Matsuzaka said he may trot it out Tuesday when he starts for Japan against Mexico in the World Baseball Classic.

    "I have done it in a game," Matsuzaka said. "But not too much. Sometimes accidentally."

    Masa and Yasuko start telling Matsuzaka about the Americans' gyroball prophecies, and he's getting a kick out of it. With each question, Matsuzaka's eyebrows arch higher.

    He has never worked with doctors on his mechanics, and he doesn't think the authors of the book used him as a model.

    He has heard of Tezuka, who, it turns out, threw a gyroball himself when he played.

    He has not ever seen a true gyroball, though he thinks Nobuyuki Hoshino, a longtime left-hander with the Hanshin Tigers, might have thrown one.

    He has modeled himself after other sports, trying to apply the spin created by tennis players to a baseball and throwing an American football around before every start to keep his motion tight.

    In high school, Matsuzaka (his first name is pronounced DICE-kay) earned his reputation by throwing nearly 250 pitches in a 17-inning complete game. He twirled a five-hitter against a team of big-league ballplayers touring Japan. His earned-run average was the best in the league last season, his seventh. Eventually, whether it's after his 10th season in Japan or if Seibu uses the posting system to sell his rights before then, Matsuzaka would like to pitch in the major leagues – preferably with a mastery of the gyro.

    "I would like to make it my out pitch," Matsuzaka said. "But it's not a miracle pitch."

    The more Matsuzaka talked about the gyroball, the more people surrounded him. I asked one final question, about exactly how many times he has thrown it, but Masa and Yasuko didn't want to translate anymore. This was their story, too, and in Japan, Daisuke Matsuzaka learning anything is big news.


    The news here is Matsuzaka does not throw a gyroball, which leaves Joey Niezer and Steven Brown, another Carroll protιgι, as the teenage heirs to the pitch that's supposed to change baseball.

    "We always had questions of whether Matsuzaka did it," Carroll said. "Now to find out there's this guy with Hanshin, that's almost as cool. It's kind of like having a treasure map and being Indiana Jones in the Temple of Gyro.

    "It's still like it doesn't exist."

    No. Not after this trek. The gyroball exists like the pot of gold at the end of every rainbow, and someone at Angel Stadium had to know how to find it.

    Red Sox catcher Jason Varitek?

    "The what?" he asked.

    Team USA manager Buck Martinez?

    "No," he said.

    In the Japanese dugout, a pitcher named Tsuyoshi Wada changed from his practice jersey into his game uniform. Wada is 24, and when asked if he knew of the gyroball, he gave one of those looks, like you've got to be some sort of fool not to know about the gyroball.

    "I don't know who can throw a gyroball," Wada said, "but I have seen it. It does exist."

    Finally, some proof. I was so relieved I cut off the middle of one of Wada's answers. Masa and Yasuko asked where Wada saw the pitch that didn't exist, where the search to find it would end.

    "I read comic books," he said. "And pitchers throw it in the comics."

  2. Turn Off Ads?
  3. #2
    Stat Wanker Hodiernus RedsManRick's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2004
    Location
    Guelph, ON
    Posts
    16,181

    Re: Gyroball, the new pitch

    The suppose video is out there on the net somewhere. I couldn't see the difference between the pitch and a slider when I saw it a few months back. The idea still sounds pretty cool. Though I wonder if it destroys your arm like a screwball does.
    Games are won on run differential -- scoring more than your opponent. Runs are runs, scored or prevented they all count the same. Worry about scoring more and allowing fewer, not which positions contribute to which side of the equation or how "consistent" you are at your current level of performance.

  4. #3
    Be the ball Roy Tucker's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2001
    Location
    Mason, OH
    Posts
    12,380

    Re: Gyroball, the new pitch

    I heard that Sidd Finch threw a gyroball.

    Pay attention to the open sky

  5. #4
    For a Level Playing Field RedFanAlways1966's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2001
    Location
    Oakwood, OH
    Posts
    11,771

    Re: Gyroball, the new pitch

    Quote Originally Posted by Roy Tucker
    I heard that Sidd Finch threw a gyroball.
    No fooling...
    Attached Images Attached Images  
    Small market fan... always hoping, but never expecting.

  6. #5
    Hey Cubs Fans RFS62's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2000
    Location
    New York
    Posts
    16,599

    Re: Gyroball, the new pitch

    Quote Originally Posted by Roy Tucker
    I heard that Sidd Finch threw a gyroball.

    Jim Coombs throws a gyroball. He calls it the widow-maker.
    "Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover."
    ~ Mark Twain

  7. #6
    Member
    Join Date
    Dec 2004
    Posts
    3,072

    Re: Gyroball, the new pitch

    Sign him.
    I hope it's never sunny in Philly again.

  8. #7
    Be the ball Roy Tucker's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2001
    Location
    Mason, OH
    Posts
    12,380

    Re: Gyroball, the new pitch

    Quote Originally Posted by RedsManRick
    The suppose video is out there on the net somewhere. I couldn't see the difference between the pitch and a slider when I saw it a few months back. The idea still sounds pretty cool. Though I wonder if it destroys your arm like a screwball does.

    Pay attention to the open sky

  9. #8
    Posting in Dynarama M2's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2000
    Location
    Boston
    Posts
    28,450

    Re: Gyroball, the new pitch

    Does the screwball destroy your arm? I grew up watching Tug McGraw and have always been under the impression you could throw a zillion scroogies.
    Baseball isn't a magic trick ... it doesn't get spoiled if you figure out how it works. - gonelong

    I'm witchcrafting everybody.

  10. #9
    Redsmetz redsmetz's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Winton Place
    Posts
    11,289

    Re: Gyroball, the new pitch

    Quote Originally Posted by Roy Tucker
    I heard that Sidd Finch threw a gyroball.
    You beat me to this line - it just begs for it. But then again, it may be that someone once thought this about the split finger.

  11. #10
    The Latin Heartthrob Javy Pornstache's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Posts
    631

    Re: Gyroball, the new pitch

    Quote Originally Posted by M2
    Does the screwball destroy your arm? I grew up watching Tug McGraw and have always been under the impression you could throw a zillion scroogies.
    I'm not sure the damage it does to your whole arm, but in the older days when there were more screwballers out there, many of them had a lot of elbow problems....just now mimicking the motion to myself in the computer room, I feel a tinge in my elbow doing it so I can imagine how it was for a pitcher doing it over the years.

    There were even those who threw them that had their pitching hand turned palm out -- PERMANANTLY from the twist of the hand (righties would have their hand facing third base by the time they release the pitch for the right rotation on the ball as lefties would first base). Throwing so many of them over the years did something to the tendons I imagine. There were a couple of well known pitchers who turned out this way, I don't think Tug was one but perhaps Waite Hoyt or maybe Carl Hubbard. There haven't been many screwballers in the modern era, there may be more but off the top of my head, the only recent guy I can think of that threw one is Jim Mecir.
    Last edited by Javy Pornstache; 03-14-2006 at 05:24 PM.

  12. #11
    Member
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Location
    Centerville,OH
    Posts
    680

    Re: Gyroball, the new pitch

    I thought the screw ball cause a twisting and torsional stress on the arm particularly the humorus bone and the elbow joint. I was under the impression it was throwing screw balls that caused tom browning to snap his humorus bone in the middle of a pitch.

  13. #12
    Member
    Join Date
    Dec 2004
    Location
    Cincinnati
    Posts
    867

    Re: Gyroball, the new pitch

    Quote Originally Posted by RedsManRick
    The suppose video is out there on the net somewhere. I couldn't see the difference between the pitch and a slider when I saw it a few months back. The idea still sounds pretty cool. Though I wonder if it destroys your arm like a screwball does.
    Carrol has said if thrown properly the gyroball will cause no more stress on the arm than throwing a fastball does.

  14. #13
    breath westofyou's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2000
    Location
    PDX
    Posts
    43,294

    Re: Gyroball, the new pitch

    Quote Originally Posted by M2
    Does the screwball destroy your arm? I grew up watching Tug McGraw and have always been under the impression you could throw a zillion scroogies.
    Hell yeah I think it does, look at Tom Browning, Fred Norman was a late bloomer with the screwball, the Padres wouldn't let him use it, but Howsam favored it and let Freddie etch his way to infamy.

    Carl Hubbel's arm was said to be turned inward by the screwball, granted some guys are freaks (McGraw perhaps) but the old screwballer is an animal that never thrived, it seemed that when it was around it was a middle aged pitchers pitch. the type a guy learns to save his career and the type a coach tries to not teach a young guy so he doesn't ruin his career

  15. #14
    Member
    Join Date
    May 2001
    Location
    Naperville, IL
    Posts
    1,835

    Re: Gyroball, the new pitch

    Here's the video of the supposed pitch:

    http://www.rotoauthority.com/files/gyroballvideo.mpeg

  16. #15
    Man Pills
    Join Date
    Dec 2000
    Location
    Philadelphia
    Posts
    25,090

    Re: Gyroball, the new pitch

    John Franco threw a screwball.


Turn Off Ads?

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •  

Board Moderators may, at their discretion and judgment, delete and/or edit any messages that violate any of the following guidelines: 1. Explicit references to alleged illegal or unlawful acts. 2. Graphic sexual descriptions. 3. Racial or ethnic slurs. 4. Use of edgy language (including masked profanity). 5. Direct personal attacks, flames, fights, trolling, baiting, name-calling, general nuisance, excessive player criticism or anything along those lines. 6. Posting spam. 7. Each person may have only one user account. It is fine to be critical here - that's what this board is for. But let's not beat a subject or a player to death, please.

Thank you, and most importantly, enjoy yourselves!


RedsZone.com is a privately owned website and is not affiliated with the Cincinnati Reds or Major League Baseball


Contact us: Boss | GIK | BCubb2003 | dabvu2498 | Gallen5862 | LexRedsFan | Plus Plus | RedlegJake | redsfan1995 | The Operator | Tommyjohn25