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First Pitch Newsbeat

Saturday, March 21, 2020

First Pitch Follies

One of the joys of baseball, and sports in general, is that the narrative arc of the game isn’t preordained. You can’t know when the most important pitch of the game will be before the game starts. This isn’t a TV procedural, where nothing decisive can happen in the first 20 minutes. The visiting team might go up 3-0 in the first inning and never relinquish the lead, or they might rally furiously from down five only to lose in the bottom of the ninth.

Even though the most exciting pitch of the game isn’t a given, one thing more or less is: the first pitch of a game won’t be the most exciting one. That’s partially due to the rules of baseball — no one is on base, and most at-bats take more than one pitch — but the first pitch is unique in its own way. For one, no one swings. Combining the first pitches thrown by each starter in a game, batters swing at 23% of offerings, significantly lower than the 29% overall swing rate on 0-0 counts.

Secondly, it’s almost always a fastball. Sam Miller delved into the thinking behind game-opening fastballs, and pretty much everything from his piece still holds. Pitchers throw fastballs because batters don’t swing, and batters don’t swing because they already don’t swing much on 0-0, and particularly so when they haven’t seen the pitcher throw anything yet.

But batters aren’t static opponents. In 2010, they swung at 25.1% of 0-0 pitches. In 2019, that number was a meaty 29.4%. Strikeouts are rising, pitchers are fastball-happy on 0-0 counts, and batters increasingly can’t afford to hang around waiting for something to hit given the decline in overall fastball usage.

Disappointingly, this isn’t about ceremonial first pitches- but it still has interest in other regards.

 

QLE Posted: March 21, 2020 at 01:30 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: first pitch

Thursday, February 06, 2020

Juan Soto advocates for Gerardo Parra to throw out first pitch Opening Day

When Gerardo Parra signed with the Yomiuri Giants of Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball league, one player among those most disappointed he wouldn’t be returning to the Nationals was leftfielder Juan Soto.

At 21 years old, Soto and his jubilant personality attached to Parra’s fun-loving antics like a magnet. The star outfielder embraced the dugout dance parties and “Baby Shark” hit celebrations. But heading into 2020, Soto has been forced to come to terms with playing without Parra in D.C.

“We’re gonna miss him on the Nationals,” Soto told NBC Sports Washington’s Matt Doolin on the Nationals Talk podcast. “I was talking to him at his house…we’re gonna work on the golf…he told me he wants me to get that and help me do that and I’m gonna work on that.”

 

 

QLE Posted: February 06, 2020 at 01:23 AM | 8 comment(s)
  Beats: first pitch, gerardo parra, juan soto, opening day

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Biggio and Bagwell throw out Game 7 ceremonial first pitches

HOUSTON — Two of Houston’s all-time favorite people got World Series Game 7 started tonight.

Hall of Famers and Astros legends Craig Biggio and Jeff Bagwell through out the ceremonial first pitches before the deciding game in the 2017 World Series between Houston and Washington.

A fitting choice- I hope the two of them aren’t too depressed about the results of the night.

 

QLE Posted: October 31, 2019 at 12:35 AM | 1 comment(s)
  Beats: craig biggio, first pitch, jeff bagwell, world series

Saturday, October 26, 2019

Original Nats’ battery mates Chad Cordero, Brian Schneider throw out first pitch before World Series

The pitcher and catcher who got the final out of the Nationals’ first game at RFK Stadium in 2005 threw out the ceremonial first pitch before Friday night’s game against Houston.

When the Nationals asked former closer Chad Cordero and former catcher Brian Schneider to throw at the first pitch at Game 3 of the World Series, the two men had a problem.

The team wanted them to wear an original jersey from the 2005 season when baseball returned to Washington. The same ones they wore that memorable April 14, 2005 night at RFK Stadium.

Except Schneider had no idea where he stored his jerseys. And Cordero knew most of his were in framed glass cases. The two men schemed and Cordero had an idea: Their parents.

 

QLE Posted: October 26, 2019 at 12:32 AM | 10 comment(s)
  Beats: 2005, brian schneider, chad cordero, first pitch, nationals

Thursday, October 24, 2019

World Series: Olympian Simone Biles backflips, then throws out first pitch before Game 2

Olympic gold medalist Simone Biles put her own unique twist to it when throwing out the ceremonial first pitch at the World Series.

The Houston Astros invited their hometown hero gymnast and four-time Olympic gold medalist to Game 2 at Minute Maid Park. Biles did what she does best and dazzled the crowd with a standing backflip before firing the ball over the plate.

Anyone here wish to see if they could do that?

QLE Posted: October 24, 2019 at 12:20 AM | 11 comment(s)
  Beats: first pitch, simone biles

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Astros Announce First Pitch Participants Ahead of World Series Game 1

Before the Astros officially kick off the final chapter of their march to a second World Series title in three years, they’re bringing back a few old friends.

As Gerrit Cole prepares to stride to the mound and take down the Nationals, he’ll have two trusted friends—and the baddest man in the NFL—to keep it warm.

Evan Gattis will squat behind the plate one more time at Minute Maid, and will surely call for a curveball from…Brian McCann.

We’ve been discussing in another thread who the National should have do this honor- here’s who the Astros are employing in Game 1 for comparative purposes.

 

 

QLE Posted: October 22, 2019 at 12:11 AM | 9 comment(s)
  Beats: brian mccann, evan gattis, first pitch

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Ready for the World Series? 10 legends that should throw out the first pitch

The Nationals will host at least two World Series games next week. That is a wild feat for a franchise that suffered through a string of 100-loss seasons after baseball came back to D.C. in 2005.

The job isn’t done for Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg, Anthony Rendon and Juan Soto. The job is just starting. The World Series presents a pomp and circumstance in baseball unseen in D.C. since before World War II. And no offense to baseball crowds in the 1930s, but the safe guess is the pomp and circumstance has grown significantly over the last 80 years.

Much of the scene next week will be mandated by Major League Baseball. The big national corporate sponsors will show up and things that have happened all year will get pushed aside in the great name of a cash grab. God bless America.

But, this is still D.C. and the Nationals still get some control over who throws out the first pitch. Should anyone need ideas, here’s a list of tremendous options. No politicians. Please. Seriously.

So, who would you have delivering the first pitch?

 

QLE Posted: October 17, 2019 at 01:15 AM | 57 comment(s)
  Beats: first pitch, nationals

Wednesday, October 02, 2019

Oakland’s own MC Hammer to throw out first pitch at A’s wild-card game

By now, you’ve probably heard who’s starting on the mound for the A’s in Wednesday’s AL Wild Card Game as the team hosts the Tampa Bay Rays.

... and it’s MC Hammer.

The Oakland native rapper/entertainer will get ceremonial first pitch honors for the Green and Gold in front of a hopefully robust crowd of 50,000 screaming fans.

Hammer, AKA Stanley Burrell, was born in Oakland and served as the clubhouse assistant and batboy for the A’s from 1973 - ‘80, according to an A’s press release. This was around the time he earned his nickname “Little Hammer” due to his resemblance to none other than Hall of Famer Hammerin’ Hank Aaron.

[Insert your own punchline here]

 

QLE Posted: October 02, 2019 at 01:09 AM | 16 comment(s)
  Beats: al wild card, athletics, first pitch, mc hammer

 

 

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