The gyro and slider seem to have the same kind of spin like a football right? What’s the difference in spin and movement?
They are two different pitches altogether. The “gyro”, about whose existence there has been no end of controversy, is a variation of the screwball. The slider is a whole other ballgame; it has a distinct offcenter grip, and as I learned the pitch you throw it like a curve but roll your wrist, don’t snap it. The slider is also an easier pitch to throw and to control, and it’s easier on the arm and shoulder than just about anything else, especially if you throw it at a low 3/4 or sidearm angle.
Does the slider look like a football?
No. The slider comes in there looking like a fastball, and when thrown correctly it has a sharp late break, which throws batters’ timing off. In fact, a lot of pitchers will throw it with a fastball motion; it’s the offcenter grip that does the work. Because I didn’t have a fastball to speak of, I threw the slider the way I did my curveball, just with that easier wrist action—and because I was a honest-to-gosh sidearmer, I could and did use the crossfire, with devastating effect. With or without the crossfire move, the slider was my strikeout pitch.
Zita, the rotation of the pitch is the same as a footballs rotation, good hitters know that it’s a slide piece because the seams make a dot (As opposed to the striped action of a curve that makes it tumble). The football has the same rotate. Gyro’s? It’s a back-up slider, which looks slider but doesn’t break, good ones almost look like they stall at the plate a great timing affect pitch, my theory is that they don’t break because of lack of velo on it and the “stall” appearance is due to it trying to take the break but it getting to far, is caught.
jd got it mostly right, except for the detailed reason for lack of slider-like movement from the gyroball.
It is actually amazing how much controversy and misunderstanding still seems to surround the gyroball.
The gyroball concept was invented by a Japanese computer scientist and reduced to practice by a Japanese pitching coach that the inventor worked with. The American media jumped on the gyroball story as it was emerging from Japan and hyped and twisted the facts so badly that nobody could really understand what the heck a gyroball was supposed to be.
In fact, according to the inventor himself, the gyroball’s spin axis is like that of a bullet…i.e., it spins about an axis that is directed exactly along the flight path. That type of spin creates zero Magnus force on the bullet so its flight is very stable…no spin-caused curve in the trajectory. That’s great for a bullet, of course, and is the reason that “rifling” and oblong bullets superceded smooth-bore guns and round musketballs. When flying objects spin about an axis that is not exactly aligned with the flight path, there is a positive Magnus force that makes them tend to move off of the original flight path (i.e., they “curve”). That’s bad for rifle shooters, but good for pitchers who may want a baseball to curve away from its original trajectory. Incidentally, Magnus force on a spinning object in flight is at its greatest when the spin axis is at a 90 degree angle to the flight path (i.e., a 12-to-6 curveball).
Sliders have a spin axis that is greater than 0 degrees, but much less than 90 degrees, from the direction of flight. So, sliders experience a Magnus force from their spin, and they break, but they break much less than a curveball.
jd is absolutely right about the gyroball’s true place in the pitching arsenal: It is nothing better than a “back-up slider”…a mistake in which the pitcher, trying to throw a slider, accidentally gets the spin axis directed exactly along the flight path…sub-FB velocity because the fingers need to be on the side of the ball to get slider-spin, no break because true slider-spin is off-center… not dead-center like a true football throw or a gyroball. Result: the back-up slider (or gyroball) pitch doesn’t break…goes “back up” and often out of the yard.
Although there really is no one intentionally throwing a gyroball these days, here is some slo-mo video from the days when the pitch was being developed. For obvious reasons, it quickly went the way of the dodo bird and the Edsel:
Great post la!
Side note, and I don’t mean to jack this thread, but the end of la’s post brought back a nice memory for me.
I forgot about the Edsel, my father was a mechanic for over 35 years and he used to tell me about all the older cars and how some stopped being in production and so on and so forth, he’d always talk about the Edsel and how you never saw them anymore (this was in the mid '90’s) shortly thereafter talking about the Edsel one day a customer showed up on the lot with one needing repair, my father was like a kid on Christmas morning that day and he made sure to take the time to show and teach me all about it when I got home from school.
Thanks for getting me to remember that la!
La, that’s the best-est explanation of the difference between the gyro and a slider - ever! Nice job!