Pitching quest!

I kind of have a few entries up in my blog, but I thought I’d post any developments here as well.

THE BASICS

Name: Tracy Hudson
Age: 38
Location: Portland, OR
Position: P/1B
Throw/Bat: R/S
Height: 6’1"
Weight: 152 lbs.

PITCHING REPERTOIRE

Pitches: 4-Seam FB
2-Seam FB
Palmball
Screwball
Knuckleball

Additional Info: I throw from 3 angles: Overhand, Side, and Underhand (softball style)

CURRENT WORKOUT AND SCHEDULE

Mon: Wall Drill/Pitching
Tue: 1 mile jog, sprints, stretches
Wed: Wall Drill/Pitching
Thu: Light weight training, stretches, Wall Drill/Pitching
Fri: Hiking/Skating/Fun NON-Baseball related physical activity
Sat: Weights, stretching, optional Wall Drill/Pitching
Sun: Jogging, optional pitching work

ADDITIONAL NOTES

You’ll notice that I do a LOT of pitching and wall drills. The main reason for this is because I pitch a knuckleball. When you have the knuckler in your set of pitches, constant repetition becomes important since the slightest hiccup in your delivery will cause that wicked floater to turn into steaming poo right before your eyes. In fact, I recommend pitchers wanting to learn the pitch to practice it every single day.

Explanation of the Wall Drill: For me, it consists of pitching against a concrete wall. Start off close to it so you can get warmed up and have your release point down, and slowly move back from there until you’re at the distance to home you normally throw from. Once settled in, what I do is start going through every single pitch in my arsenal and throw them anywhere from 10 to 15 times in a row until satisfied.

Here’s an example:

10-15 4-Seam FB- Over
10-15 4-Seam FB- Side
10-15 4-Seam FB- Under

After that, I move to my 2-seamer and so on…

Also, with the wall you can see exactly how well you are throwing your pitches while also getting fielding practice at the same time! I can provide more elaboration on this point if you wish.

CLOCKWORK DRILL: Just like the name suggests; this is a drill where I go through each arm slot with each pitch- For the first pitch, you throw overhand, then sidearm, then underhand. Pitch sequence here doesn’t really matter; Point here is that I am comfortable throwing from each angle. I usually end my workout with this.

Also, I might be going out with my wife to practice later. If so, I’ll try to get some video to look at.

So, bad news as my catcher (AKA Mrs. Huddy) wasn’t feeling up to going out with me today. Can’t blame her- After a day of cleaning offices and such, I’m sure the last thing she wants to do is play Varitek to my Wakefield. Alas, no video…

I wound up going to my practice spot on my own to work on some wall pitching drills. To warm up, I did 10 of each of my pitches (4/2 seam FB, Palmball, Screwball, Knuckler) at each arm slot (Over, sidearm, and underhand) for a total of 150 pitches. After that, I tried to work on individual pitches and deliveries. At NO point during this did I throw at full strength; the key with all of my practices is to just get a good feel for each of my pitches. Very last thing I care about is how fast I bring it.

Now for a quick assessment of what worked and what needs improvement:

WHAT’S GOOD

-Offspeed pitches: Maybe it’s because I tend throw the Knuckleball more than everything else in my arsenal, but I have that thing working excellently. I’m able to deliver it from all three angles without a hitch. And I’ve also noticed marked differences in the way the pitch behaves, depending on the angle I throw from (More on that later). My Palmball and Screwball need a bit more work from the underhand delivery, but from the over and side angles, they’re becoming more and more like I threw them in my early years.

  • Consistency: Now like I said earlier, it’s hard for me to pick out visually whether I’m consistent in my windup and delivery. But physically to me, it FEELS like it’s coming along. It’s become quite rare that I overstride or find myself leaning too far back or forward. It might help that I’ve also developed what could be the laziest windup in the history of ever. But in any case, I no longer feel as though I’m struggling to find a comfortable motion.

PROBLEM AREAS

  • Fastball: I don’t know why, but I can’t seem to throw either fastball the way I’d like to throw them. My 4 Seamer works throwing underhand, but if I throw it over the top, it tends to feel too loopy. And from the side, I can’t guarantee where it’s going to end up (though the velocity looks better). My 2 Seamer on the other hand, I can throw overhand and sometimes to the side, but not so much from the underhand delivery.

  • Sidearm Motion: The Knuckler, Screwball, and Palmball did very well from that angle today. However, even with that, I can never seem to find a consistent release point to get the ball to the strike zone. Sometimes it’s there, and other times it just seems to elude me. And I couldn’t make any of my fastballs work from there today.

So with that, I think tomorrow I will take it easier. I’ll spend more time on stretching and exercise. Any throwing I do will be very light (not another 200+ pitch day like today). Also, I REALLY need to find a buddy with a camera who’s willing to catch me on a regular basis. I’m convinced that 90% of my troubles can be ironed out if I can just SEE what I’ve been doing.

If you want to play a form of organized ball I have one question:

Why are you throwing some under hand?

Get some video up and you’ll get some great advice for fixing your mech’s.

Good question Wales :slight_smile:

But to answer your question, there are a few reasons why I throw underhand:

First- The body is naturally built for it. Think about it like this- Your shoulder socket doesn’t angle upward or even laterally; it angles down. This is why your arms point down to the ground instead of toward the sky or straight out from the side. Also the muscles in the arms and rotator also favor this motion. Because of this, there is a lot less wear and tear on the arm then you would have pitching strictly over the top or even from the side.

Second- Pitching isn’t necessarily about velocity or even how wicked a break you can get on your pitches (Though don’t get me wrong… they help a TON). It’s about disrupting the hitter’s timing. In my experience, one of the best ways to disrupt the timing of a hitter is by changing three things: Velocity, pitch selection, and arm slot. Changing slots is a great way to disrupt hitters because as your arm moves to a new slot, the behavior of your pitches change.

Or, think about it from a percentage standpoint: Say you have five pitches in your repertoire. Now, say you’re facing a hitter who has faced you enough times to know what you throw. He knows what pitches you have, so things essentially boil down to whether or not he can guess what you’re going to pitch in whatever the given situation is. If you have five pitches, the batter has a 20% chance of figuring out what you’re going to throw to him.

Now, let’s say you have those same five pitches, but can deliver them from three different slots. Now, that same hitter has 15 possibilities to guess from. Suddenly his chances of figuring you out have gone from 20% all the way down to 7%.

And Third- Simply enough, what you sacrifice in velocity from a pure underhand angle (and believe me, it’s quite a bit), I notice I make up for in movement and break on pitches. The screwball (Or curve, if you feel so inclined) looks freakin’ insane when thrown from this angle.

Now, a caveat: While Reasons One and Three have been tested, I haven’t had a chance to test Reason Two in a true game situation. So there’s a huge possibility I’m wrong. At the moment, it’s pure theory…

And video upcoming later this week!

Guess I should of done a better job asking my question.

Just to clarify are you meaning softball style throw or submarine throw in regards to how you throw “underhand”?

You’re theory number two is good in principal, heard it lots of times from many different people, but it is very hard to repeat the same mech’s over and over from one slot let alone an additional two or three slots, which is why you don’t see too many guys doing it and being successful.

Ah! See, I throw softball style underhand. Fortunately, I haven’t had too many control issues with it for the most part. But like I said earlier, it lacks velocity. Part of the tradeoff, I guess: Killer movement, but little “oomph” behind it.

And I agree with you about Theory 2 here. It IS hard! Like I said, over and under I don’t have too much trouble with. But from the side… yeesh. Maybe that’s why my windup’s practically nonexistent now.

I’ll still tinker about with it for now. I have a tryout game on May 5, so there’s still some time to fine tune things or scrap them altogether.

Okay, so here we go:

First to let anyone reading this know: I received an email from an MABL team in Aloha (small city outside Portland) wanting me to audition for them next week at their first team practice. I’m basically going to be throwing simulated innings and possibly BP. It’s as good a start as any!

Second, I’ve been working in more velocity training in which I basically throw the bejeezus out of the ball. Only goals here are to throw as hard as I possibly can while still being somewhat accurate, though most emphasis is placed on the strength. I am noticing a nice difference in my fastball when I am working on my pitches. For example, most of the “bloop” in my 4-seam is pretty much gone now. I just learned a few minutes ago from another thread in this very forum that there are iphone apps that can measure velo. Guess what Mrs. Huddy’s downloading when she gets home from work tonight? :smiley:

Third, I’ve somewhat upped my throwing program. Instead of my original 4 day on, 3 day off program, I’m now working 5 to 6 days on pitching/throwing. I think this is more a way for me to rationalize not doing any other workout, since I’ve always hated gym work with the fiery passion of a million blazing suns. Either way, I think I’m at a point where I’m going to just have to bite the bullet and ask for good workout program suggestions.

Fourth, I think I might have nailed down my control issues from throwing sidearm. What I noticed is that it all comes down to release point. What I do now is wait until the EXACT moment I see my right hand pop into view of the corner of my eye. As soon as I see the hand, I know it’s time to let the sucker go.

Fifth, while all of my pitches are getting better and better as I continue to work, I’m noticing the most improvement in my knuckler and screwball. Granted, I’ve never had trouble throwing Uncle Scrooge since I learned it at the tender age of five. But the last couple of practices, I’ve been just really putting every bit of snap I can into it once or twice. And it’s got nice movement to it now. Granted, it puts some serious hurt on the elbow when I throw it over the top. But oh well.

The knuckler is pretty much becoming my bread and butter pitch though. I love that I don’t have to put a ton of oomph into it to make it work. The erratic movement on it makes it nice for me too. This should make all of my other pitches look even better, if my thinking is correct.

Sixth, I think I need to find a new place to practice (If those reading this recall, I practice underneath the Hawthorne Bridge in Downtown Portland’s Waterfront Park). Yesterday when I was practicing, I had somebody taking pictures or video of me on his phone. And today, a photographer came by and asked to take action shots of me. And the first thing he said to me? “Hey, are you the baseball guy I’ve been hearing about?” Guess I have something of a local rep. Maybe I can parlay this into a career as a busker… Hmm…

Finally, also at the place I practice I noticed someone had OD’d in the bathroom. Fortunately, the cops and medics were already there, and the guy was okay (though he had to to go to the ER still). So I had to chuckle at that, especially since I recall doing the same thing in that very same restroom about six or seven years back…

Huddy,

What is the MABL?

Is it legal to pitch underhand in that league?

Wales:

MABL stands for Men’s Adult Baseball League. More info can be found at http://www.msblnational.com/

Turn22:

I looked up the rules (To answer your post actually- It’s a very good question), and so far I’ve seen nothing in the rules that says you can’t. At least that’s my story if anyone asks :smiley:

Huddy,
Also a fellow MABL player (Boston’s League though), also a fellow knuckleballer, i’ve been tinkered around with by my old coaches to throw sidearm/sub, and my wife is my catcher when im not at practice. Your the older version of me haha

Have you played in college or high school?

And defiantly get some video up, i wanna see that thing float! The best way to make sure your knuckle is consistent is to (as you already stated) have a consistent motion, and the best way to see that IMO is through video analysis.

SVC,

I played baseball regularly from 8 until my junior year of high school, and I started pitching in eighth grade. But at 17 I suffered a proximal humerus fracture (long story short: a little over 50% of the ball joint of my arm broke off the rest of the bone) which put me out of commission. I tried to come back in college when I was 19, but had to quit once more when my shoulder replacement also broke off mid pitch.

If there ever was a silver lining in the last injury, it’s that the pitch I threw actually broke the 90mph barrier! See? It’s the little things :smiley:

Yeah, I’d really love to get video just to show I’m not some stupid troll or something. I wanted to do it today but I forgot that it was a holiday and we had plans to hang out with the ol’ lady’s Nana.

Thanks for the link Huddy.

A guy on here you also might want to PM is Pustulio he tinkered around with the Kball and had some success with it.

All I can say is: Sweet bleeding baby Jesus!

So, to recap: I’d been meaning to get you guys video for awhile. It’s up. You can go look at the mechanics forum to see it.

But another thing we did today was get a radar reading of all of my pitches. Yeah, it was raining like a mofo outside, and it was kinda cold. But my first official team practice is tomorrow, and I kinda wanted to get a feel for where I was at.

So I did some warmup with the Missus. Nothing too special or anything. And then, it was time to step before the gun.

My first warmup pitch was a fastball at 71 mph. And then I messed about with the knuckler for a few. And then, because I could, and because well, what’s the point of having the radar if I ain’t gonna fling it? So I put a bit more into my next 4-seamer. 78 mph.

That couldn’t be right. I figured it was wonky or the old lady was just messing with me. But I thought I’d give it another go. This attempt clocked in at 82.

And then, I threw some off speed stuff to keep my arm loose and not destroy it like in the past. When I felt good and ready, I let another heater fly. This one came in at 85. Keep in mind now, the first two weren’t at full strength. I just wanted to put a little extra into it to see what would happen.

So the very next pitch, I put everything I had into it… and topped out at 91. And the next one was at 89. So I kept going until I threw enough heat to get a good feel for an average. As long as I was throwing my little ass off, I didn’t get below 85 on the 4 seamer. I was around 80-82 on the 2 seamer.

To be honest, I’m still having a hell of a time wrapping my head around this. I keep looking at the numbers the wife wrote down and I still wonder if she was fudging things just to make me look good.

Anyway, here are my final averages:

4-Seam FB: 87mph
2-Seam FB: 82 mph
Palmball: 73 mph
Screwball: 78 mph
Knuckleball: 64 mph.

Like I said, first official team practice is tomorrow. Will have more for you then, I think!

But I gotta say it again… 91 mph… What. The. Hell!?

What is the make and model of the radar unit you are using? Call me curious.

Not sure what model it is. But it’s made by Bushnell. I don’t know if they’re good or not. I’ll have to pester my neighbor to let me look at it.

And for the record, I still am skeptical of the result. I mean, I’m almost 39 years old here. And while I’m in decent shape, I’m nowhere near where I’d like to be. But damn if it didn’t feel good to see that 91 on the sheet. And it felt great to actually type it out.

EDIT: It’s the Bushnell Velocity. I looked it up online, and apparently folks say it’s 3 to 5 mph than then actual speed. Still… was fun while it lasted! And given my circumstances and everything, if this particular unit is five mph faster then that puts my average at mid-80s. Which is still pretty good!

Yes, another post. Had my first team practice today. Nothing earth-shattering to report, but here’s two observations:

First, batters seem to not like it when you throw knucklers in BP. And catchers don’t seem to enjoy catching them. Just throwing that out there.

And second, as I stood in the practice facility today with my little baseball pants and old school baseball socks and awed at the fact that it was indoors, with real cages, and screens, pitching machines, and all sorts of awesome equipment, it hit me… Wow. I did it. I’m a real ballplayer again.

I almost wanted to weep right then and there.

Congrats on getting back into organized ball

Thanks, Wales.

Of course, that’s just step one. Now I gotta prove I belong.

So to summarize:

You are 38 years old
You do not do any strength training
You suffered a “career” ending arm injury in High School
You throw underhand
You are a knuckleballer
Your wife is your regular "catcher"
You practice under a bridge where someone recently OD’d

And based on the mechanics in the video you posted, you want me to believe you hit 91 on the radar gun. Here’s a word of advice. I think your wife was holding the radar gun upside down. It was a 16, not a 91…

Funny thread though, you had me going!