Yellow hammer?

well the yellow hammer is just a really good 12-6 curveball right? so how would I go about throwing one? also when I throw it should it be throw hard or soft?

could I just use the grip thats on this site for barry zito’s curve?

also when I throw it should I be pointing my pinky at the catcher? and just pull down hard?

ummm…a yellow/golden hammer is the baseball term for an absolute hammer. you can try whatever grip you want but its going to come down to how hard you can throw and the amount of spin you can impart on the ball. like a golden hammer is an 80+ mph 12-6 curveball with ungodly drop on it. felix hernandez throws one…lincecum throws one…i would say beckett throws one…its what happens when ridiculous talent comes together with feel. so i would say learn how to throw a 12-6 curve and then go from there. a curveball must be learned but a golden hammer is something you have in you or you don’t. you can throw a very good curve without it being a golden hammer.

I’m not a fan of John Bagonzi’s book, but there are a few intersting things in it–one is his explanation of “the yellow hammer”.

First, as Bagonzi describes it, the yellow hammer is a 12-to-6 curveball that appears to break very sharply near the plate. It’s movement is straight down or nearly so–i.e., not much if any lateral movement.

Bagonzi says “yellow hammer” derives from the behaviour of a bird of the same name–apparently the yellow hammer bird flies along with a pretty normal-looking trajectory but can dive very suddenly when it sees a tasty-looking bug.

I believe, and I imagine this is not too controversial, that a true 12-to-6 curveball can only be thrown effectively by a pitcher with a very high functional arm-slot.

If you think about how the ball must roll forward–with 12-to-6 topspin–off of the index and middle fingers at release point it is clear: Only a pitcher with a very high functional arm-slot could release this type of pitch with forearm-wrist-hand kept firm in a linear relationship (i.e., think: karate-chop release).

On the other hand, if you are a RHP with a sidearm functional armslot, the exact same release of the ball will put 9-to-3 spin on the ball (from the batter’s perspective). A RHP with a pure 3/4 functional armslot releasing this pitch will put 10:30-to-4:30 topspin on the ball, and so on.

You theoretically might be able to achieve 12-to-6 rotation on a breaking ball from a low functional arm-slot by “wrapping your wrist” around–i.e., making a nearly right angle at the wrist of your throwing arm–but this is definitely not recommended. “Wrapping the wrist” during the stress of a typical pitchg release sounds to me like a formula for serious injury.

Changing your functional armslot by leaning your torso away from the throwing side might get you the type of release you want. But instead of asking you to change your functional armslot to achieve a certain type of breaking ball–as Bagonzi and many others would have pitchers do–there is a much more straightforward approach pitchers can take:

Optimize the type of breaking pitch that is most optimal for your functional armslot as it currently exists. If your functional armslot is sidearm, but you don’t like the movement caused by side-to-side rotation of your breaking ball, do what many other sidearmers do: Throw a slider.

Changing your functional armslot in order to achieve a certain type of spin on the ball is the tail wagging the dog, in my opinion. Most good pitchers seem to spend their entire career perfecting, fine tuning, and maintaining an optimized mechanical delivery that works for them. Many good pitchers experiment with different types of pitches–but you don’t often see huge adjustments in functional arm-slot as a part of these experiments. More often, pitchers seem to play around with new pitches that are a good fit with their existing mechanics. An exception to this idea might be guys like Jim Bouton, who was a power FB pitcher with the Yankees but suffered injury and became a knuckleballer to prolong his career.

ok well I have a pretty high arm slot its above 3/4’s but im having some elbow and shoulder pain lately should I lower my slot?

oh yea also lol, how do I throw a 12-6 curveball?

re: “…should I lower my slot?”

—I don’t counsel anybody to change their arm-slot, either up or down. There are lots of reasons, but let me try to highlight some of them for you:

Lots of people don’t realize that there are really two distinct concepts of arm-slot. They are not interchangeable, so any misunderstanding about arm-slot can be potentially harmful.

In my view, every pitcher has an “intrinsic” arm-slot–that is pretty close to side-arm. That is, with reference to a line through the pitcher’s sternum and belly button the arm angle at release point will be somewhere around 90 degrees for everyone–Randy Johnson to Trevor Hoffman.

Every pitcher also has a “functional” arm-slot–i.e., the arm-slot that the batter perceives. This would be the pitcher’s arm angle with reference to a line that is always perpendicular to the surface of the ground. To get high “functional” arm-slots, pitchers must lean their torso away from the throwing side. To get low “functional” arm-slots pitchers must lean their torso toward the throwing side.

The misunderstandings happen when pitchers or their coaches mistakenly think they can achieve a high arm-slot by “raising the elbow” during a delivery. You’ll hear this all the time around baseball: “Get your elbow up, kid”. A further problem is: A coach or pitcher who is standing still actually can raise his elbow pretty high without leaning his torso. But human anatomy doesn’t let anyone get away with that during the stressful high-speed motion of a pitch. So, kids that literally believe they should change their arm-slot one way or the other by simply raising or lowering their throwing side elbow are being seriously misled.

If you are having elbow/shoulder pain you shouldn’t be pitching you should be rehabbing.

And, you should be getting high quality advice from someone who is qualified to rehab you and with whom you can work face-to-face, not over the internet.

The way to throw a yellow hammer, in my opinion, is (1) Already have a high arm-slot. Do not change your arm-slot in order to learn to throw any particular pitch(2) Presuming you know how to grip a curveball, bury the ball as deep in your grip as you can and squeeze it very firmly. (3) Your thumb and middle finger should cut the ball exactly in half or you will likely squirt the ball at release (4) Preset a “karate-chop” with your forearm, wrist, and hand. (5) Mechanics, sequencing, and timing should all be fastball (6) Throw and release the ball with a straight karate-chop motion right at the target. Do not twist your forearm, wrist, or hand at release.

Credit where credit is due: I derived the basic descriptions of this curveball from Tom House’s teachings.

laflippn says…

Soundest advice on the planet jamesh23!

I can’t tell you how many pitchers 21yo + have come into programs that I’ve been with, where coaches that have tinkered with this -functional arm-slot.

Some of the reasons for this tinkering is due to trying to fill a current need in the rotation. For expample, a club may have plenty of heaters but it would really be nice to have a junk guy … so, the club’s coaching staff pick’s a pitcher then instructs the pitching coach to …" bring-em around".
Another reason for tinkering around with a pitcher’s natural progression is flat out inexperience.

What laflippin told you is right on the money. You’ve got to be self-pro-active on this.

Also, you mentioned::
lately should I lower my slot?
If someone tells you … “no pain no gain”… walk away. They’ve got the brains of a beatle! In youth sports … pitching especially, there is no such thing as …“work through the pain”. Pain is not a common element on the learning curve in youth sport. PERIOD!

Coach B.

well this is a much less serious note, but about the grip…try as many as you can. i always pay attention to how my teammates throw their pitches, especially grip. I struggled throwing a curveball for a long time until I tried my friend’s grip and now my curve is way better than his.

let me also say this: I am not a big fan of the 12-6 curveball, i think its overrated unless you have good off-speed pitches to accompany it. most of the kids i play w/ say they have a 12-6 curve and the first thing that happens in batting practice is me crushing it over the fence. the best pitchers know how to use pitches, not just how to throw them. honestly, i would focus on your change up or tailing fastball or w/e you have that you already know, and make it the best it can be.

Excellent exlanations by laflippin.

I’ll just add one point. Tilting the torso to raise the functional arm slot will raise and pull back the release point. When throwing a curve, this will make it harder to keep the pitch down and it will make it more difficult to get over the top of the ball and put that 12-6 spin on it (can you say hanging curve?). It’s not impossible to do but it will be more difficult and will, therefore, take longer to master.