I’ve been saying this for years, if you learn to throw the knuckleball early in life, you can be a professional baseball player no matter who you are:
OSAKA, Japan (AP)—Japan’s first female professional baseball player made her debut Friday, striking out one batter in the ninth inning.
Eri Yoshida, a 17-year-old who throws a sidearm knuckleball, took the mound during Kobe 9 Cruise’s 5-0 season-opening win over the Osaka Gold Villicanes in the newly formed Kansai Independent League.
The 5-foot, 114-pounder walked the first batter leading off the inning on four pitches and allowed a stolen base before striking out the next batter swinging at Osaka Dome. She was then replaced after facing two batters.
The catch of course is Yoshida plays indy ball in Japan.
But a pro’s a pro.
The theory behind the knuckleball is easy: throw a ball with no spin (+or- a half rotation) at about 60 MPH sixty feet.
It’s just really hard to do.
Which is why it should be learned at a young age. Will it be effective in little league? No, it won’t be fast enough. But it can act like a change up in games, or you can just keep it for practice sessions. Whatever.
Anyone can throw a baseball 60 MPH with practice and training. If you spend 10 years (age 12 to age 22) throwing the pitch regularly, you should be able to master it (assuming you don’t suddenly realize your real calling is as an engineer).
Does this mean there will be scores of women playing in the Majors? No. But it does give hope to thousands of people looking to play baseball at the indy/college/minors/international levels.
Something else I wonder, could someone use Dr. Mike Marshall’s pitching motion to throw a knuckleball (he doesn’t teach it because he thinks the odds of success are too low, but not necessarily because it can’t be done with his motion). Such a pitcher could conceivably throw almost unlimited innings.
Rob Neyer says:
Hmmm, let’s see … five feet and 114 pounds … what happens when the enemy hitters start dropping bunts into that tricky area between the pitcher’s mound and the third-base line? Will Yoshida have the quickness and the arm strength to throw anyone out at first base?
Yeah Rob, that’s why she throws a knuckleball. It’s really hard to accurately place a bunt with a pitch that flutters. Besides, a well placed bunt is a threat for any pitcher.
He goes on:
And speaking of arm strength, what happens when the count is three balls and no strikes? Or what happens when there’s a grounder to the first baseman and she has to cover first base and gets run over by some burly first baseman?
Well, according to the Bushido Baseball Warrior Code, when a big player from the other team picks on one of your players you either let your big burly first baseman play a game of knuckles or you throw at the guy the next time around.
you can’t play if you don’t have the requisite physical tools
Fair enough, but Neyer comes to his conclusions based only on the woman’s weight and gender, not on any actual viewing of her abilities.
Do I think Yoshida is some sort of All Star? Of course not. I haven’t seen her play either. It might be just a publicity stunt. She might also be just another in a long long of semi-talented indy ball players who never catch on elsewhere. But ease up on the preliminary judgment, eh?
Filed under: Baseball | Tagged: Eri Yoshida, Japanese Baseball, Knuckleball, Mike Marshall | Comments Off