Murray Chass discovers a new way to be woefully wrong: by doing PR for Scott Boras

November 12th, 2006 → 6:25 pm @ // No Comments

In his Sunday “Baseball Notes” column, Murray Chass reports, “Daisuke Matsuzaka will bring [the gyroball] with him when he comes from Japan next season to make his major league debut. Matsuzaka, a 26-year-old right-hander, did not name the pitch, which is a special part of his repertory.” Chass then quotes Boras, Matsuzaka’s agent, as saying the gyroball is a pitch with “a little bit of backspin” that “kind of sits that and breaks late. It looks like a fastball but has a late break to it and it breaks down.”

No, you’re not crazy: what Boras is describing really isn’t that different from a slider, and is also similar to a split-fingered fastball. In fact, Boras — and mouthpiece Murray — acknowledges as much: “Asked whose slider he might compare it to among major league pitchers, Boras mentioned Steve Carlton and Randy Johnson.”

Why all the fuss about a pitch that’s similar to a couple of well-known sliders? Does this warrant all this attention (or, for that matter, a headline on Chass’s item that reads, “Matsuzaka Has His Own Pitch”)?

No, it doesn’t…but the actual gyroball — a pitch (actually created by scientists) that is thrown so as to propel the baseball with sidespin similar to that of a bullet (or a football) — does. The Bigfoot-like gyro comes in as quick as a fastball, appears to be a hanging curve, and then has late-breaking horizontal action (on Friday, Slate posted a nice “Explainer” piece on the pitch; embedded within there is an interesting Popular Mechanics link).

Even if Chass had been able to get even the faintest specifics of the pitch right, he is, by almost every account, not correct in acting as if the gyroball is a pitch Matsuzaka can throw with any regularity…if he throws it at all. Matsuzaka himself has been cagey on the subject, at times claiming he can throw it, while at other times seeming to say the opposite (last spring, he told Yahoo! Sports’s Jeff Passan that he was still “trying to throw it”). Newsday‘s David Lennon has smart, well-reported piece on the whole thing. (Lennon quotes Bobby Valentine, who coaches the Chiba Lottle Marines: “I’ve heard about it all year. I’ve looked for it. I’ve looked for it on film. After he pitches, I’ve waited for players to start talking about the gyroball, and I’ve never heard anyone say it. You would think someone would mention it.”)

There is at least one (very knowledgeable) baseball writer who believes in the gyroball: Baseball Prospectus‘s Will Carroll, who calls Matsuzaka the “clear star” of the gyroball universe. If that’s true, and if the Sox do win the Matsuzaka sweepstakes, that could a problem in and off itself, because…

Post Categories: Daisuke Matsuzaka & Murray Chass & Sports Reporters

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