April 02, 2006

Gyroball ... fact or fiction?: In their book The Secret of the Miracle Pitch, Japanese researchers using supercomputers modeled a potentially unhittable breaking pitch called the gyroball. Baseball has been simmering with debate over whether anyone can actually throw it. Seekers of the elusive pitch claim that Japanese superstar and MVP of the 2006 World Baseball Classic Daisuke Matsuzaka throws one, and cite this high-speed video (YouTube) as an example. Another video exists, of high school ace Joey Niezer purported throwing it. If it actually exists, the Gyroball would be the first new pitch developed in almost 40 years. (via edverb on MetaFilter).

posted by rcade to baseball at 11:59 AM - 11 comments

I want one. And what the hell is reverse slider? "shootball," a reverse slider thrown by Japanese pitchers

posted by tron7 at 12:42 PM on April 02, 2006

Wait, you need good mechanics to throw it? Nevermind then.

posted by tron7 at 12:54 PM on April 02, 2006

You sure your telling the truth not a sid finch story April Fools was yesterday if not I can believe it I wish Greg Maddox could learn a new pitch

posted by luther70 at 03:43 PM on April 02, 2006

Interesting stuff. In recent years, two new and highly effective deliveries have been introduced to cricket - 'reverse swing' and the 'doosra'. Though there are some doubts that the doosra can be delivered legally. In cricket, you have to keep the elbow more or less straight. The inventor of the doosra, Sri Lankan Muttiah Muralitharan, has a deformed or double jointed elbow that gives him an advantage.

posted by owlhouse at 05:55 PM on April 02, 2006

Reverse swing isn't new, owlhouse. It's been a stock ball since the great Pakistani bowlers of the 80s.

posted by rodgerd at 06:33 PM on April 02, 2006

The 1980s are new to me, rogerd! The first time I noted reverse swing was Imran Khan bowling at the SCG in about 1983. I had been studying physics and remember the learned articles in places like New Scientist on the dynamics of reverse swing. Your link doesn't mention that reverse swing is also enhanced by the smooth side of the ball becoming slightly heavier through constant polishing. That's why reverse swing is more common later in the innings. Back on topic: The gyroball sounds a bit like the 'drift' that spinners in cricket get through the air before the ball pitches. It also works much better into the wind.

posted by owlhouse at 07:22 PM on April 02, 2006

Oh man. This is a juicy post. Thanks rcade.

posted by vito90 at 08:33 PM on April 02, 2006

Will Carroll (of the juice blog) has been a proponent of this pitch for a while now. i sent him the link to this post.

posted by goddam at 08:55 PM on April 02, 2006

got an email back from Will.

The gyro is real. It's difficult and, in essence, is a variation of the slider. Just as the slider is a "flatter, two plane curve", the gyro flattens even more, ideally moving laterally. (Gravity makes this tough.) Imagine Mariano Rivera's cutter with more lateral movement and you get an idea. It's teachable, but not simple but I'd be happy to show anyone - pitchers, coaches, whoever - how to teach it. Takes me about ten minutes.

posted by goddam at 09:37 PM on April 02, 2006

I am by no means an expert, but the pitch that Matsuzaka is throwing in the video doesn't appear, mechanically, to be noticably different than the screw ball that Carl Hubbell threw. The motion seems the same and the ball rotation looks the same to me. I really question the claim that this pitch reduces strain on the pitcher's arm -- turning the palm away from the body is not a natural motion (the wear-and-tear of the screwball reportedly left Carl Hubbell with a pitching hand that was "permanently turned around"). On preview: again, not an expert, but it doesn't look at all like a slider or cutter to me. The video and description of the arm motion contradict what I know about the mechanics of these pitches. I am not accusing Will of deception -- simply stating that I would need all of those ten minutes with him (and probably more) to reverse my cynical view of all of the claims being made.

posted by BullpenPro at 10:43 PM on April 02, 2006

Looks more to me like Charlie Hough's old screwball. When he had it going you couldn't hit it with a pro-width tennis racket or a double wide cricket bat. It was all over the place! Of course when he didn't have his good stuff it was just as likely to bounce 3 ft in front of the plate or spin off past the catcher.

posted by commander cody at 01:55 AM on April 03, 2006

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