Daisuke Matsuzaka will start for the Sox in today’s game against the Yankees. No doubt it will give the talking heads yet another opportunity to debate the existence of the gyroball, Matsuzaka’s mythical pitch.
Sports Illustrated’s Tom Verducci says the gyroball is , but I know he’s wrong. All he’s got to back up his argument is interviews with Sox players and coaches. I’ve got science on my side. Or, more specifically, I’ve got the Science Guy.
That’s right, Bill Nye the Science Guy says the gyroball not only exists, but it is wicked nasty. Actually, Nye says the gyroball has been around for a long time. It’s just that, until Matsuzaka, nobody has been able to throw it with any velocity.
In a sense, this gyroball thing is nothing new. In New Haven, Connecticut, U.S.A., back in 1870 (as I mentioned in an earlier column), a guy named Freddy Goldsmith threw a curveball that was flat–not dropping or sinking. He threw a ball past three rods set up in a row. It passed to the left of the first rod, to the right of the second, and to the left of the third. This was before reliable video technology. He must have held the ball with his palm almost facing the sky. The thing is, when you throw a curveball like that, it goes too slowly. Modern batters have time to react and can crush it. Similarly, when most of us non-big leaguers try to throw a gyroball, a pitch with nothing but sidespin, we just can’t get enough push on it to make it go fast enough to fool a batter.
At any rate, the key to this seems to be that Matsuzaka is some kind of smooth athlete. He can throw with his wrist going all different directions and not ruin his muscles and ligaments in the process, at least so far. He’s just good at it.
So there you have it. The Science Guy says the gyroball is real. Are you going to argue with science?