Knuckleballer Tim Wakefield in Hall of Fame?

Wakefield of Red SoxMichael Clair makes the case for inducting knuckleball pitcher Tim Wakefield into the Hall of Fame at m.mlb.com’s Cut Four. Actually, though, Clair argues more broadly, if only semi-seriously that, “every dipsy-doodler tosser should be in the Hall.”

After all, these are players who, when they realized they weren’t good enough hitters or that they lacked the requisite fastball, still found a way to make it to the big leagues. It’s how Wakefield came to be. Drafted as a first baseman, Wakefield struggled to crack the Mendoza line in the Minors, and he soon turned to the knuckleball his father taught him.

Quickly successful with a low-effort, high-60s knuckler, Wakefield’s first start was a complete-game, 10-strikeout, five-walk affair. You know, pretty much peak knuckleballer.

From then on, Wakefield would join the Skull and Bones–like knuckleballer’s cabal, eventually pitching 19 seasons in pretty much every role that was ever asked of him. Plenty of batters who have made their careers feasting on pitches over the plate have struggled against him. Two notable examples: Adrian Beltre and Edgar Martinez, who combined for one lone single in 38 career plate appearances against Wakefield.

If reader comments on this article are any indication, elevating Wakefield to the Hall of Fame would be controversial. But we have no objection.

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aNewDomain.net will tell you “everything you ever wanted to know about the knuckleball. Trust us” (The Tao of Knuckleball).

For instance, did you know that the true secret behind throwing a knuckleball is to pitch with almost no rotation?

The infographic is nice, but simply accepts as given that it’s the seam of the baseball that triggers the turbulence which explains the ball’s vexingly unpredictable trajectory. A contrary view is that “drag crisis,” not seams, account for the flight path, as concluded from work reported last July in the New Journal of Physics. (See our post “Knuckleballer Steven Wright Still Blasting Opposition as Scientists Still Grapple with Physics of the Pitch.”) The claim is that seamless, non-baseball spheres can also be set into a low-spin path that results in a vexingly unpredictable trajectory. But physicist Alan Nathan, who has done much original research of his own into knuckleball physics, is not entirely persuaded.

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Since it’s off season, we’re taking the liberty of belatedly passing along some cultural news from 2015. In August of that year a band named after a martial art has produced a song celebrating R.A. Dickey’s knuckleball, JamBase.com reports.

Connecticut funk-rock band Kung Fu wrote a new song in honor of current Major League Baseball pitcher and Cy Young Award winner R.A. Dickey. The jazzy new number entitled “Daddy D” has been made available to stream by the quintet. Tim Palmieri, Adrian Tramontano, Chris Deangelis, Rob Somerville and Beau Sasser posted a recording of the new tune with lyrics that pay homage to the Toronto Blue Jays right handed knuckleballer.

You can listen at JamBase. At 3:23: “Ha haaa, I seen a curve ball, but I ain’t never seen a knuckleball look like that before. Good luck to all y’all tryin’ to hit that….” Kung Fu will be in Saratoga Springs, NY on February 24, 2017. So if you’re in the area maybe you can hear these words live.

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