Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Wiffle Ball

This is going to be a long season. So if I can borrow a story now and again to keep the interest of San Francisco Giants' fans, then that's just what I'll do.

First one I thought was a dandy was something out of ESPN magazine. In fact, if you have access to a computer you can check out the wiffle magic at espnthemag.com.

Joe Nord, a member of the New York Knights, Long Island's championship winner in Fast Plastic, the preeminent Wiffle ball organization in the country. (Nord won 64 straight in Fast Plastic tournament play.)

Nord gives some pointers on how to make pitches.

The Drop. Delivered sidearm with the holes facing skyward, the 12-to-6 curve has been known to dip thirty-six inches (36") as it travels the 48 feet to the 23-inch by 27-inch strike zone. To ensure that it isn't still on the table when it gets there, Nord says you should twist your wrist forward over the top of the ball as you let it fly.

The Screwball. Nord's out pitch. Thrown overhead, elbow by the ear, with the globe's holes facing left. It can be hard on the thrower's arm.

The Riser. With the holes down and your fingers along the seam, release this sidearm pitch at around hip level, snapping your wrist at the end. Nord's heater travels over 70mph and jumps to eye level at the plate, as it mows down Fast Plastic's 5-man lineups. Nordian tip: more rotations equals more movement.

The Slider. In Fast Plastic play, singles and doubles are determined by lines on the field, triples make it to the wall and home runs make it over. Up to three fielders chase down batted balls, but the down-and-away motion of Nord's overhand slider- holes to the right, a finger on the seam- often makes them superfluous.

Again, watch Nord demonstrate some WIFFLE magic at ESPNTHEMAG.COM.
Thanks to ESPN magazine for this slice of baseball life.

Kevin Marquez