Nichols Knuckles?

If you’ve been reading my blog, you’ll have noticed my new obsession, the knuckleball.

Today, I got to see the Phillies’ own (extended spring training anyway) Chris Nichols throw his knuckleball. From the rumors I’ve heard, he’s only been doing it for a few months.

The last time I saw Nichols throw his knuckleball, I had missed most of his inning, and had only seen a few pitches, not enough to make a judgement. Today, I got to see his entire inning.

Here’s some video, you can see when the knuckleball works (and doesn’t)

Nichols’ Knuckle

While Nichols’ grip is similar to Frank Viola III’s (he’s the pitcher it profiled earlier), his delivery is just slightly different:

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In this next sequence, you can see the positions in order:

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A few of his knuckleballs really moved well. He seems to be progressing with it. It will be interesting to see how it plays out, where he ends up and when.

I know I’ll be watching.

Trouble with the Knuckle

I’ve become fascinated by the knuckleball. They say the first step to healing is to admit you have a problem. So there, I’ve said it. I’m fascinated by the knuckleball.

I saw R.A. Dickey throw his in spring training, while I thought it was “neat”, because of the angle of my seats, I never got to appreciate the movement of the ball. I did get to appreciate R.A., however. I saw him walking around downtown Dunedin, my hometown and the place where the Jays spring train. I didn’t say hello, I didn’t want to bother him, but he’s definitely the kind of guy that stands out in a crowd.

I also “just missed” running into R.A. at my hair salon. No, REALLY. LOL. My stylist, who is simply the best I’ve ever had, said to me when I came in, “you’re into baseball, you know who that guy was?”

“What was his name?” I asked.

“I think he plays for the Jays, he’s got letters for a name.”

My eyes widened, “R.A.?”

“Yeah, that’s it! I cut his hair.” She smiled and went about her work on my mane.

Sure enough, next time I saw him, he had a new cut. But I digress.

I was lucky enough to have the pleasure to talk to Frank Viola III again this week and he and I had a lengthy discussion about the knuckleball: how to throw it, the way the strategy is a little different with a knuckleball and how what you aim for with a knuckleball is “soft contact”.

I found it fascinating because you think of the mentality of a pitcher wanting to go out and mow down the batters with a simple 1-2-3 inning, but with a knuckleballer, it’s more of a “set them up, then a soft contact hit for an out.”

Dickey did just that yesterday. It seemed like he had it all under control. He lasted 8.1 innings 5H, 2R, 2ER, 1BB and 1HR (that was in the 1st inning).

Baseball Ross and I listed on the MLB channel on satellite radio as we were running errands. I almost didn’t get my errands done because if Dickey was pitching I wouldn’t get out of the car.

Dickey was dealing…and I was hanging on every knuckled pitch.

I am hoping that I can catch Viola pitch this week, I just have to see that pitch, I’m like a cat watching a laser pointer.

Hi, my name is Betsy and I’m a knuckleball addict.

Knuckle Down-Frank Viola III, a Knuckle Ball Pitcher in the Blue Jays System

Every once in a while you meet a guy, someone out of the ordinary who grabs your attention, this spring, for me, it’s Frank Viola III.

Viola, who turns 30 this year was something of a journeyman, playing with several teams and being affected by Tommy John surgery and a knee injury. By 2007, he was out of baseball.

In 2012, Viola started working with R.A. Dickey, Tim Wakefield and Phil Niekro on developing a knuckleball. In March, he was signed by the Toronto Blue Jays, which is where I first encountered him.

I was walking around the Englebert Complex taking pictures (as I always do) and stopped to watch one of the games. I was sitting on the bleachers when one of the Jays, asked about my camera. I was using my wifi adapter to wirelessly send pictures from my Nikon to my iPhone so that I could photoshop them and upload them to my blog.

We got into a conversation about technology and how I’m a self-proclaimed nerd. He replied, “that’s ok, so am I.”

We chatted for a while and when done he introduced himself just as “Frank”.

For a while, that was all I knew except that he was good friends with R.A Dickey. After some research, I found out who he was and was intrigued by his attempt at a comeback as a knuckleball pitcher.

Unfortunately, even with the Extended Spring Training Phillies and Blue Jays playing each other every week, I never managed to catch him pitching…until today.

Baseball Ross always says his favorite thing about baseball is that every day you will see something you’ve never seen before. Today, I finally got my chance.

I was fascinated. Knuckleballers are rather rare and Viola throws his from a 3/4 arm slot. It was something I’ve never seen and I was just amazed.

I took several pictures:

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I even took some video:
Click Here to See

So that was my morning. I thoroughly enjoyed watching the game, sitting in the sun and seeing something new.

Baseball is the life and a good one.

It’s a Sad Day, Threshers’ Fan Favorite Chad Carman Released

I was rather shocked when I read the transactions list this evening to see that Threshers catcher Chad Carman was released.

He is a solid defensive catcher who wasn’t given a chance to play in a regular rotation, though he did catch for one of Cole Hamels’ rehab appearances in Clearwater. That’s him in the picture at the top of the page.

I got to know Chad or “Charmin Carman” by his Twitter handle, last summer when he was here on rehab from the Blue Claws after breaking his thumb. He’s a sweet guy who worked hard and always took time with fans young and old.

Because he was so friendly, or “Charmin” he quickly became a favorite of Threshers fans. I hope he knows we’ll miss him. I know I’ll remain a fan no matter where he ends up.

One would suspect that he was released to make room for Andrew Knapp who’s also a catcher, however he’s returning from an injury and so far, we have not seen him catch in extended spring training. He’s been the DH, but not catcher.

Another roster move was Threshers outfielder Justin Parr, who was sent to extended spring training. He’s had a tough time at the plate this year but I’ve respected his hustle and effort.

Threshers DH Willie Carmona was also
reactivated from the “temporarily inactive” list.