Following another dominant year in the Japanese Leagues, Daisuke Matsuzaka, the feared ace of the Seibu Lions, is coming to America after the Boston Red Sox paid a $51 million posting fee to his team and another $52 million to Daisuke himself. What could make a man worth so much money? Besides pinpoint control, a plus fastball, and a nice slider, rumors are swirling that Daisuke Matsuzaka can throw the gyroball, the mythical unstoppable pitch from the Far East.
Developed by Dr. Ryutaro Himeno, a professor of physics, and baseball instructor Kazushi Tezuka in the late 1990s, the gyroball would be the first new pitch in the Major Leagues in forty years. What makes the gyroball so effective is that it combines the power of a fastball and the movement of a breaking pitch; basically, it’s a power forkball. Thrown sidearm like a football in a tight spiral, the gyroball is almost impossible to recognize and hit effectively.
That is, if it exists and Matsuzaka actually throws it. Yale professor Robert Adair – author of The Physics of Baseball – doubts such a pitch would be anywhere near as effective as claimed. Others contend Daisuke, as an overhand power pitcher, couldn’t throw a ball designed for side-armers, and that – as talented as he is with his fastballs, sliders, and change-ups – he has no need. We won’t know until April, but for $103 million, the Red Sox better get their money’s worth.