From one heartwarming story in Oakland to another.
Nick LeGrande is an A’s fan who lives in Kansas City. He has a rare blood disorder called severe aplastic anemia, and it prevents him from going to games. But he nonetheless threw out the first pitch at last night’s Yankees-A’s game. How? Via robot:
It was all made possible by a telerobotic pitching machine, and is believed to be a baseball first when it comes to ceremonial first pitches … LeGrande and his family, including parents Mike and Shari, were taken to a mini baseball stadium. It was constructed by Google at its Kansas City offices … At the same in the Bay Area, a telerobotic pitching machine was placed on the pitcher’s mound at the Oakland Coliseum to follow the teen’s movements. The technology allowed LeGrande to simultaneously throw the pitch and watch it happen from afar.
Check out video of LeGrande’s first pitch here.
Here’s the robot:
You hear a lot about pitchers tipping pitches. It’s often offered up post-facto as an excuse for poor performance by the pitcher himself or his own team. It’s sort of like the “best shape of my life” thing being offered in the offseason to talk about why the player got injured or played badly the previous year. “Smitty’s stuff is still great, he was just tipping his pitches,” said a source close to the player whose stuff is not really great anymore.
Which isn’t to say that pitchers don’t tip pitches. Of course they do. Opposing teams look for it, pick up on it and take advantage of it whenever they can. It’s just that (a) the opposing team has an interest in not talking about it, lest the pitcher STOP tipping its pitches; and (b) the guy actually tipping his pitches doesn’t want to talk specifically about it lest he starts doing it again.
Which is what makes this article at Sports Illustrated so interesting. In it Tom Verducci talks to an anonymous Houston Astros player who explains how Dodgers starter Yu Darvish was tipping his pitches during the World Series, leading to him getting absolutely shellacked in Games 3 and 7. The upshot: the Astros knew when a slider or a cutter was coming, they waited for it and they teed off.
Darvish is a free agent now. I’m guessing, whoever signs him, knows exactly what they’ll gave him work on the first day of spring training.