March 27, 2007


The myth behind the man: Matsuzaka says 'gyroball' not part of his arsenal (Tom Verducci, March 27, 2007, Sports Illustrated)

Despite highly descriptive news reports, slow motion video and purported eyewitness accounts from major league hitters -- well, the Florida Marlins' scrubs -- Red Sox pitching sensation Daisuke Matsuzaka does not throw a gyroball, G. Gordon Grinch of the North Pole news bureau of SI has learned. Several sources close to Matsuzaka -- and you can't get much closer to Matsuzaka than Matsuzaka himself -- confirmed to Mr. Grinch that Matsuzaka's gyroball is nothing more than media mythology, a promulgation the pitcher delightfully enjoys.

Repeated attempts to reach the Easter Bunny, the Loch Ness monster, the tooth fairy and a Chicago Cubs world champion for comment were unsuccessful.

Seriously, I know the gyroball is a cool, real concept and Matsuzaka already has this air of mystery about him that invites possibility and that everybody likes a good story, but enough already. A Marlin by the name of Jason Stokes, after facing Matsuzaka in a spring training game, pumped the legend of the demon pitch when he announced in wonderment, "I saw the gyroball." He did stop short of saying it emitted a beam of light that transported him into a flying saucer, where his innards were removed bloodlessly before he was returned to the batter's box.

Here's the truth: Matsuzaka's changeup is so wicked, so unlike most every changeup anyone has seen, that people don't know what to make of it. Matsuzaka has told me he does not throw the gyroball. Every Red Sox staff member and official I've talked with said he does not throw it.

"What the Marlins thought was the gyro was the changeup," one of the Boston sources said. "That's what people think is the gyro. It's his best pitch."

Said another Red Sox insider, "Japan is famous for copious scouting reports. If you throw a pitch once in your life the scout will include it in the report. Dice-K enjoys letting people think he throws it. There's no harm in it. Why not just give them one more thing to think about?"

The most consistent remark you hear from guys who've faced him is that what makes him so tough is his ability to throw 6 to 8 different poitches anywhere in the count. They just have no idea what's coming.

Posted by Orrin Judd at March 27, 2007 7:05 AM
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