Friday, January 12, 2007

Interview with Gyroballer Kyle Boddy, Part 2

Here is the second part of my interview with amateur gyroballer Kyle Boddy of Baseball Delusions.

PP: Do you see the Gyroball as a pitch that a Major League player could use effectively?

Kyle: Absolutely. I look forward to seeing Daisuke Matsuzaka in the MLB, and to see whether or not he develops his gyroball.

PP: Do you expect to see professional baseball players of all levels attempt to throw the gyroball in the next few years?

Kyle: I don't expect to see any established pitchers throw the gyroball, no. For the next few years, I imagine that it will be similar to the knuckleball - a last ditch effort to turn a position player or poor pitcher into a serviceable player in the big leagues. Tim Wakefield is a good example of this.

PP: So it's not the secret weapon that will bring pitchers back to the 60s?

Kyle: Haha, no, I doubt it. I mean, the pitch is very effective and it's a great out pitch, and it's entirely possible - but just as batters adjusted to the splitter, they too will adjust to the gyroball.

PP: How do batters react when you throw the pitch?

Kyle: They typically take the pitch the first time through, since they don't recognize the spin. I've left the pitch hanging a few times, though, and it has been hammered. My go-to out pitch is the side force gyroball, which behaves like a curve ball of sorts with good late break.

PP: Could you explain the different gyroballs that you've learned?

Kyle: Sure. There are four different variations on the gyroball. You can impart positive lift force on the ball by holding it back in the grip and tilting the wrist back, side force by tilting the wrist in and out, and negative lift force by tilting the wrist down. Since you impart gyroscopic spin on each variation anyway, the slightest change in angle will cause the spin to point a different way, and thusly will cause wildly different results

PP: What kind of gyroball have you been throwing primarily?

Kyle: The side force gyroball is the one I'm most comfortable with. I can throw it down and away from RH batters and LH batters by simply tilting the wrist in or out. However, I feel most comfortable throwing it down and away from RH batters. Against an LH batter I stick with locating my fastball and changeup outside.

PP: Will Carroll mentions the same thing. He says that a right handed pitcher will never throw a gyroball to a left handed hitter. Why is this?

Kyle: Daisuke Matsuzaka never throws the gyroball to LH batters because the pitch would move down and in to a LH batter. Since the LH batter already sees the pitch better due to the pitcher being an opposite side thrower, a ball down and in to a LH batter is in the danger zone. Suffice to say that it's right in the wheelhouse of most LH power hitters.

PP: Will Carroll admits that Matsuzaka knows how to throw a gyroball, but probably does not in a game. We've just seen his really good slider on camera. Have you seen video of Matsuzaka's pitch and do you believe that it is a gyroball?

Kyle: I have seen gyroballs thrown by Matsuzaka - by going over his Nippon league games, you can definitely see that he throws them occasionally to RH batters.

PP: What kind of gyroball?

Kyle: A common pitch mistaken for his gyroball is the second pitch in a popular video showing him at the WBC - it has sick late side break to it. However, this pitch is just a forkball/split-change that is very well-thrown. Most of his gyroballs are thrown with the standard grip and regular downforce. This pitch is absolutely a gyroball.

PP: I can see the near-slider grip

Kyle: It's tough to tell with the video quality and angle, and it's possible that it's a slider, but I am of the opinion that this is a gyroball. The slider grip has the fingers on top of the ball while the gyroball grip is on the side. It's tough to tell because of the angle of the release point which pitch this is, but the result looks very similar to a regular gyroball.

PP: Do you think that in he hands of a very talented pitcher like Matsuzaka that the gyroball could be a major weapon, or just the occassional trick pitch?

Kyle: I think it's in between. The pitch is a great out pitch for me, and when hit softly, induces a lot of groundballs. It's definitely not a trick pitch, like the eephus.

PP: Any else that you would like to say on the subject?

Kyle: I'd like to say that with this article, people will undoubtably scour my videos on YouTube and criticize my mechanics, not to mention doubt the validity of the pitch. My response is that I know I'm not perfect, that I'm re-learning how to pitch all over again, and that nothing in my videos or blog should be construed as good advice to learn how to throw any pitches, much less the gyroball. However, the pitch truly does exist, and I can throw it.

I recently took video of one of my better gyroballs, and it can be found here:

PP: Thanks Kyle.

I'd like to thank Kyle again for sharing this information with the baseball community. He has helped to dispel a lot of myths about the gyroball in my mind.

I'll be out in the woods for the weekend, but I will take a look at the Yankee list of non-roster invitees on Sunday... before 8 PM. Jack Bauer starts killing people at 8 PM.