Throwing Like A Girl… I’m Doing It

So, let me just begin by saying that as of yesterday, anyone reading this can follow me on Twitter! Yeah… I finally got sucked in. But as an added aside, it’s SO MUCH EASIER to troll Celebritards now! You can follow me here in case you cared.

And with that, let’s move on to the main attraction, shall we?

So last I left you kids, my left ass was in serious pain. I’m delighted to tell you all that this is no longer the case. I no longer hobble like an old man whenever I go up and down the stairs leading to my studio. Of course, I hobble like a middle-aged man, but that’s to be expected when on the bad side of one’s thirties.

So what I wound up doing was waiting a day or two for the pain to subside. I kept in shape with stretches and more light weights (The latter of which is very hard to do when you’re too poor to buy proper dumbbells- I substituted a heavy frying pan). And then, when I felt decent enough, I went out to do some practice throwing. 

I found the PERFECT spot for it too. It’s tucked away under the lovely Hawthorne bridge. And the best part about it is that for some reason, perhaps its proximity to a city employee parking lot, it has yet to be seriously tainted with hobo piss, malt liquor bottles, used syringes and crack pipes, and so on.

Also, since the target I was throwing at was a bridge pylon, all I needed to get a good practice session was a glove and a rubber baseball and not only could I get my throws in, I could also do some fielding work at the same time. Yay me!

So now, you’re no doubt wondering about the title of this entry. 

If you recall, in my last post I mentioned that because of my past injury (shattered ball joint), I couldn’t really throw the more traditional overhand style of pitching found in baseball without popping my arm out of the socket. It does this very easily and while it really doesn’t hurt, being that I’ve had over twenty years to get used to it, it does make things rather inconvenient when I need to actually put some muscle into a pitch.

And with that established, the question was raised: What was I supposed to do about that? Kick the ball over? Use The Force? Shoot the ball out of my ass? Well… that’s one way to throw with gas, I guess. But that won’t play here. Besides, NOBODY is gonna wanna catch that. Maybe I should just quit now and settle for years of playing the MLB: The Show series whilst pining over what could have been?

I was REALLY leaning toward that last option. I came ever so close to doing just that very thing. But you know something? Over my four years of sobriety, I’ve had to take a good long look at my life. And amidst all the soul searching, it occurred to me: Everything in life I’ve ever wanted, I could have had. It was never that I lacked for talent; Quite the opposite in fact. No, the only reason I never succeeded at anything worth noting is because I never followed through. I always got to a certain point in an endeavour and said “Fuck it. I’m done”. Nothing was ever seen through to the end.

Not this time. Not again. This is what I tell myself, anyway.

So once more: What was I supposed to do in this case? 

The answer was honestly rather simple, and probably didn’t need all the above exposition to get to. But here it is: I had to completely rebuild my pitching style. And I had to do that from the ground up. And I knew exactly how I was going to do it: I was going to reinvent myself as an underhanded pitcher.

Now those of you who know what I speak of are probably thinking, “Why is that such a big deal? There are plenty of underhand pitchers in baseball”. But here’s the thing: Most of them, if not all, are not in fact throwing underhand. In fact, if you take a look at guys like Chad Bradford, Craig Breslow, Darren O’Day and so on, you see that they actually throw sidearm, but the angle in which their torso tilts to make their pitches gives the appearance of being underhand. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. But I’m not limber enough to throw like that, and I ain’t even going to try.

No, when I say underhand, I mean like in softball. In other words… throwing like a girl. Hey, if Disco Hayes can do it, why the hell not? Besides, that style of pitching has some very distinct advantages.

First thing softball style pitching has going for it is that because underhand is the body’s natural throwing style, it causes a LOT less wear and tear on the rotator cuff. Less wear equals more endurance, which equals more quality innings per start.

And second, because from a lower arm slot you have freedom of movement in your wrist and elbow, you can put a LOT more spin on your pitches, which translates to more movement on your throws home.

And finally in my case, I learned that throwing underhand has helped me regain the control I once had, so I no longer have to wind up, throw the pitch, and pray it doesn’t wind up beaning the third baseman.

About the only thing I really notice a drop in is velocity, but as long as you have the control and movement, velocity isn’t a terribly big issue. Besides, it’s been decades since I touched 90mph on a radar gun anyway.

So how did I learn to do this, you ask? Simple. I learned by watching YouTube, of course! Namely I’ve been studying Amanda Scarborough’s pitching tutorials she did for Team Express. If you’re going to learn, I figure it’s worth it to learn from one of the best. And Ms. Scarborough’s record sorta speaks for itself.

Armed with this new knowledge, I went to my spot to work on what I’d learned. Nothing too fancy; just the standard fastball types (four seam and two seam, respectively) and the palmball (the only change-up I could ever make work for me). But you know what? It was fucking AMAZING! Everything I threw was right on target. My throws had movement I have never seen before in like, the history of everything, especially the two-seamer- That pitch faded in just like my old screwball in high school. And the best part? This success was not in my head. At one point, I began to notice a small crowd of people watching me work. They musta thought I was crazy or something. And they wouldn’t be too far off from the truth. But judging for the occasional clap or approving nod, they liked my brand of crazy.

And then, because why the hell not, I decided to try to throw a knuckleball from the underhand delivery. That too was right on target, and fluttering like a decent knuckler is supposed to. I actually started giggling, it was so funny to see.

Of course, it went to shit shortly after that. 

I noticed that after about 45 minutes, every pitch I threw began just rolling on the ground, as though I were bowling, or playing Bocce. I should have seen that my arm was tired from nearly an hour straight of throwing and fielding, but hubris set in. Like Icarus, I was going to fly as high as the sun. I kept going, figuring that I’d be able to right this little hiccup. It didn’t happen. If anything, it got worse.

So finally after about the sixth or seventh pitch being rolled along the ground frustration set in, and with a stream of variants on the words “Shit”, “Fuck”, and “Mother”, I charged the ball and gave it a MIGHTY kick.

Remember where I told you I was practicing? Can you guess what happened? 

If you somehow haven’t figured it out yet: My kick sent the ball sailing right over the pylon- And I’m still wondering how it did that with only a few inches of clearance- And bounced right into the cold poo-filled waters of the Willamette River. Then, with a sigh and a bemused shake of my head (Hey, you gotta be amused, yeah?), I went back home.

It’s the 18th of February now as I write this. The tryout/draft is in six days. I still have some work to do, but so far, everything has been very positive. My next challenge will be throwing off the mound. And who knows? If I can score a cheap (or loaner) camera, I might even have some video and/or pics to put up.

Until then, go home! We’re done here. What more do you want?

 

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