MLB.com recently aired a highly entertaining original show called “The Next Knuckler”. Charlie Hough and former Red Sox master Knuckle baller, Tim Wakefield judged contestants to determine just who would be the next knuckler. Former Marlins prospect and NFL quarterback Josh Booty won the reality show.
Although the end goal is the same, Boston’s Steven Wright is in a very different and real circumstance. Wright wants to be the Red Sox’ next knuckler. Like Toronto’s R.A. Dickey, Wright is a pitcher determined to master the mystery dance that defines dead-stopping a ball from point of release through the final hitter-defeating dip and dive into an over-sized catcher’s mitt.
Wright wrote an impressive first chapter to his story on Monday afternoon, besting 2012 NL Cy Young award winner R.A. Dickey. Wright threw two baffling innings of two hit, three strike out, shutout baseball as the Sox beat the Toronto Blue Jay 4-2 at Florida Auto Exchange Stadium. Wakefield was at the game to see the 28-year old righty’s effort and will be traveling to Fort Myers on Tuesday to begin working with him.
“I was a little nervous,” Wright told MLB.com’s Gregor Chisholm. “I was not scared, just a little nervous, because you want to do your best in general but to have guys with a keen eye for the knuckleball…Once I got out there, I felt pretty good.” After kicking around in the minors since 2002 as a conventional pitcher, Wright has committed to the dark art and it appears Wakefield has signed on to show him more.
There are two schools of thought regarding the knuckle ball. To even the most casual baseball fan you either love the flutter and fly or you wait in breathless anticipation for Bud Selig to do the right thing and ban the pitch so that real men can throw hard, harder, hardest. I for one love the knuckler…well, except for those days when it isn’t knuckling which can be about 1/3 of the time during a bad year.
Another knuckle ball pitcher making starts at Fenway Park. I like the sound of that.