Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Dr. Mike Marshall or: How I learned to stop worrying and love weird pitching

By Soup

I'm sure some of you have heard of Dr. Mike Marshall and his alternative pitching motion that he claims is injury free. He was a relief pitcher for the Twins from 1978 to 1980 posting a 2.99 ERA in that time. Prior to that Marshall won the NL Cy Young Award with the Dodgers in 1974. That year he set records for the most games pitched in a season (106), relief innings pitched (208 1/3) and consecutive games played as a pitcher (13). And, he had the mustache to back it up.

His motion is certainly interesting, and it's not difficult to see that it's much more natural than the twisting and coiling of a traditional pitching motion. I've never pitched, but a couple of problems with his motion caught my untrained eye. It looks like the ball breaks very early on breaking pitches. Also, the stride is a lot smaller. So the ball is being released further from home plate giving the batter more time to react. But what do I know. Marshall's won more Cy Youngs than I have...barely (1,0 respectively).

His research and teaching on the art of pitching are all well and good, but there is something about Marshall that I don't like. Every time I hear about him he always comes across as an oppressed victim of the baseball establishment. The media is probably more to blame for painting him as this shiny beacon of truth in the dark world of stubborn baseball executives, but he doesn't seem to shy away from this characterization. Now, it's true that baseball executives and baseball in general are very resistant to change, but nobody really cares about the wackiness of a pitching motion, especially if it is wacky in a less violent sort of way. If you can get guys out you can get guys out.

So, all Marshall needs to do is develop some major league talent, and the Marshall revolution might take seed. But in the 10 years of his pitching school's existence he hasn't had much success in this regard. He, of course, did have Jeff Sparks. Yeah, you remember Jeff. Tall, blond hair, pitched 30 1/3 innings with the 1999 and 2000 Devil Rays. Yeah, That Jeff Sparks.


Daymonster said...

In that link to the Yahoo article is that kid wearing a Twins hat on the last picture?

Holmer said...

Don't sell yourself short, I've witnessed your mound presence. Wiley Lefty.

soup said...

I googled the kid and I think it's a hat for his college team, University of the Incarnate World. I'm not making that up. That's an actual university. A Twins hat is a much better option.

You're right Holmer. I'm left handed and I have a pulse. There is no reason I'm not in the Bigs. I'm close to perfecting my submarine knuckle curve. Watch out baseball world.

Anonymous said...

Marshall's sideburns are awesome.