Results tagged ‘ Tim Wakefield ’

Reality TV: Finding the next knuckleballer

Check out this R.A. Dickey-inspired new reality show from MLB Network:

Former NCAA Division I FBS quarterbacks John David Booty (USC), Josh Booty (LSU), Doug Flutie (Boston College), David Greene (Georgia) and Ryan Perrilloux (LSU & Jacksonville State), will compete for an invitation to the Arizona Diamondbacks’ Spring Training camp in MLB Network’s first-ever reality series competition The Next Knuckler, premiering Wednesday, February 13 at 9:00 p.m. ET. Produced by MLB Productions and co-hosted by World Series champion and former All-Star knuckleball pitcher Tim Wakefield and MLB Network analyst Kevin Millar, the five former quarterbacks will compete against one another to determine who can throw the best knuckleball.  

dickeyknucklerTaped at Vero Beach Sports Village, the former Spring Training home of the Los Angeles Dodgers, each episode will feature the contestants learning from Wakefield how to throw this baffling pitch before facing challenges to test the effectiveness of their knuckleball.  One contestant will be eliminated from the competition in each episode based on his performance and input from Wakefield and Millar. The winner will earn an invitation to the Arizona Diamondbacks’ Spring Training camp and the chance to pitch for the D-backs in a Spring Training game.

 “I’ve dedicated my entire baseball life to the challenging art of throwing the knuckleball,” says Wakefield in the premiere episode. “Now, I’ve embarked on this mission to continue the knuckleball legacy. These guys were great athletes on the gridiron so I wanted to try this experiment out. You don’t have to grip the baseball the way I threw it, but if you want to win, you have to lose the spin.” 

In addition to Wakefield and Millar, The Next Knuckler will feature special guests, including 2012 NL Cy Young Award Winner and knuckleball pitcher R.A. Dickey of the Toronto Blue Jays, Boston Red Sox catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia, former All-Star knuckleball pitcher Charlie Hough and 15-year old knuckleball phenom Chelsea Baker, who threw two perfect games for her Plant City Little League team in 2010.

 “We look forward to being featured on The Next Knuckler and giving an opportunity to one of these top-flight athletes to come to Spring Training with the D-backs,” said D-backs President and CEO Derrick Hall. “With a knuckleball, you never know what kind of success a pitcher will have and that’s part of the intrigue for our franchise to take part in this reality show.”

Following the premiere hour-long elimination episode of the The Next Knuckler on Wednesday, February 13 at 9:00 p.m. ET, the final three episodes will air on February 14, 20 and 21 at 10:00 p.m. ET, with a re-air of the previous episode beginning at 9:00 p.m. ET.

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Follow me on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo.

Rushing the knuckleball fraternity

Because he only completely committed himself to the knuckleball five years ago, R.A. Dickey figures he’s “about 26 in knuckleball years.” Which means he’s still in the process of learning.

dickeydelivers.JPG“The scouting report on me over the past couple years has been get into fastball counts, and you’ll get fastballs,” Dickey said. “Well this year it’s been a little bit different, and I think that’s really helped. I don’t just throw a token fastball 2-0 or 3-1 now. You’re going to get a knuckleball.”

Dickey has been throwing more knuckleballs on the whole. In comparison to years past, when he threw between 63 and 67 percent knucklers, according to the web site Fangraphs.com, Dickey has thrown the pitch nearly 75 percent of the time over his first two starts of this season.

By comparison, Red Sox knuckleballer Tim Wakefield has thrown the pitch 84 percent of the time over his 18-year career.

When Wakefield and Dickey spoke prior to Tuesday’s game, Wakefield told him simply to trust in the pitch. For the first time in his career, Dickey is doing so, providing the most convincing evidence that he may be able to sustain his recent gains at the age of 35.

I think it’s just a matter of the maturation of the pitch,” he said. “This is my fifth year to throw it, and every year you learn a little something more with it. That’s why it’s been a nice journey with me for this pitch.”

—–Follow along on Twitter @anthonydicomo

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