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Canada’s Hopes Rest on a Knuckleball

By October 12, 2015 No Comments

RA dickey pitchCanadians are going to learn more about the “knuckleball” today than they ever wanted to know and were afraid to ask.

The hopes of a nation hang on a pitch that is at best described as a “eating soup with a fork.”

Put a little too much spin on the ball or throw it just a little too fast and you’re basically serving up a batting-practice pitch that the hitter can feast on.

Former Pittsburg Pirate, Willie Stargell said, “Throwing a knuckleball for a strike is like throwing a butterfly with hiccups across the street into your neighbor’s mailbox.”

A knuckleball catcher says, “Catching the knuckleball, it’s like trying to catch a fly with a chopstick.”

KNUCKLEHEAD or KNUCKLEBALL

A knuckleball pitcher can make a baseball manger look like a knucklehead for choosing him to pitch in the MOST important baseball game for Canada in 22 years.

Knuckleballers are a rarity. At any one time, only one or two are usually in the major leagues. “Why I Love Knuckleball Pitchers” is a great primer if you dare to know more.

R. A. Dickey is one of MLB’s best knuckleballers, may the best EVER.

In 2012, he became the first knuckleball pitcher in major league history to win the Cy Young Award. This season his numbers are on par with 2012.

THE GRIP

Dickey digs into the leather with the nails of his index and middle fingers just behind the runway, where the ball’s seams are closest together; he places his thumb and ring finger on the sides of the ball. He keeps his nails even with a fine-tooth glass file and strong with the nail-hardening product Trind. Nails are a vital stabilizing force, enabling Dickey to release the ball with almost no spin.

Pitcher R.A. Dickey demonstrates his knuckleball grip following a news conference in Toronto on Tuesday January 8, 2013 as the Toronto Blue Jays introduce the newest addition to their roster. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young

Pitcher R.A. Dickey demonstrates his knuckleball grip following a news conference in Toronto on Tuesday January 8, 2013 as the Toronto Blue Jays introduce the newest addition to their roster. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young

THE RELEASE

As Dickey moves his arm forward in front of his body he loosens his grip and lets the ball float off his fingertips with minimal rotational force. His knuckler can reach 84mph and it spins 180 degrees as it travels 60.5 feet.

GREATNESS

The recognized greatness of his pitch is not the best thing about Dickey.

Dickey penned one of the more entertaining, affecting, and revelatory memoirs ever written by a baseball player – Wherever I Wind Up.RA Dickey book

Life and faith will have well prepared him for his first post season performance.

Dickey has a strong basis for optimism, rooted not only in his team’s second-half surge but in his own, and in his experience throwing his knuckleball in the Texas heat and humidity, which usually improves the movement on the pitch.

If he can go 7 1/3 innings and give up only two runs the Jays have a chance to head back to the center of the Universe for game #5 on Wednesday.

This will be one for the ages.

APPLICATION: Go Jays!


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Bob Jones

Author Bob Jones

Pastor at North Pointe Community Church for 27 years. Happily married to Jocelyn for 38 years. We have two adult sons, Cory and his wife Lynsey and their son Vinnie; Jean Marc and his wife Angie and their three gorgeous daughters, Quinn, Lena and Annora. I love being a pastor and inspiring faith in Jesus through communicating, blogging, counseling and coaching. I enjoy running, reading, writing and ball hockey. Fan of the Esks and Pats. Follow me on Twitter @bobjones49ers

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