Various bits of flotsam that washed up on our computers, before we moved to a better blog system in November 2004. Now a repository for YouTube videos and testing new tools. Go to for more recent content.

Saturday, May 15, 2004

Knucklers crack me up

In general, I'm not much of baseball fan, but I do like the fact that you don't have to be an Adonis to play; I especially like overweight pitchers, and crafty knuckleballers even more.....

The New Yorker: Project Knuckleball:

"The Yankees and the Red Sox are engaged in what is often called an arms race. This past off-season, the two teams, already possessing stratospheric payrolls, went about adding more firepower to their rosters. The Sox, most notably, added a couple of hard-throwing All-Star pitchers (New York allowed fewer runs last season), while the Yanks added a couple of All-Star sluggers (Boston scored more). In Fort Myers, on the first Sunday in March, the Yankees arrived at City of Palms Park (Florida’s Fenway) to play the Red Sox in a meaningless early spring-training game that was nonetheless billed by various players and writers as “Game Eight”—the continuation of last fall’s epic series, which seemed merely to have paused for the winter. Before the game, several fans paraded around the grandstand carrying signs taunting Alex Rodriguez, New York’s studly new third baseman (he’d recently posed with his wife for Sports Illustrated’s swimsuit issue), and alluding to the simmering steroids controversy (the Yankees’ new right fielder, Gary Sheffield, was among those called to testify before a grand jury). Obscured by all the commotion was the fact that, in this cold-war buildup, the weakest arm may still make all the difference.

Two miles down the road, at about the same time, a twenty-four-year-old former art student named Charlie Zink was throwing from a practice mound at the Red Sox’ sprawling Player Development Complex, while the rest of the hundred or so minor-leaguers in the Boston organization, spread out over five diamonds, took batting practice and shagged fly balls. Zink was twelve when he first saw Wakefield—then a rookie with the Pittsburgh Pirates—pitching in the National League playoffs, in 1992. Now, although he is capable of throwing standard-issue jock heat, Zink was trying to mimic the Wakefield delivery as well as he could, right down to the apparent lack of exertion and the junior-varsity speed. From a side view, there was nothing at all remarkable about Zink’s pitches, except that occasionally the catcher didn’t catch them. In those instances, the coach who was standing behind the mound tended to exclaim, “That is outstanding!” Zink, who went undrafted as a fastball pitcher, is, at the Red Sox’ urging, reinventing himself as a rare specialist: a knuckleballer. With Wakefield, one of only two knuckleball pitchers currently on a major-league roster, and now Zink, the Red Sox are cornering the market on low-grade weaponry. Project Knuckleball is only just beginning its second year, but, according to Baseball Prospectus, a leading baseball-analysis Web site, Zink is already the Red Sox’ top-rated prospect."

I'll let you read the rest yourself. And this probably will conclude all sports talk on this channel for the next several months (unless the Kings pull off a miracle).


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