Not too long ago I saw a post on Facebook that was attributed to “G” Juarez who we all remember for leading her Oklahoma Sooners the the NCAA National Championship last June. What “G” shared is something that I have been saying for years and that I am sure ESPN isn’t too happy to see.
Her quote, “I am going to be honest, the ESPN radar guns are juiced. I DO Not throw 69. I can say that with complete confidence. I throw CONSISTENTLY 63-66…”
So why would this WCWS hero want to share this message?
Of course, I can only guess, but I think her motivation is a positive one. That when pitchers try to over throw to gain maximum speed they are usually heading for problems. That when a pitcher gets amped up and tries to throw as hard as possible that problems soon follow.
I have been arguing for a long time that the ESPN speeds were inflated to help with the perception of non softball fans who might tune into the WCWS. That by amping up the speeds that somehow the game would be more appealing to the casual or uneducated fan. Whether that is true or not is for someone much smarter than me to determine.
Though I am much more concerned with another unintended consequence of this inflation of televised pitching speeds and that is the impact it has on the young players who are learning to pitch. Yes, we call it FASTpitch for a reason but speed isn’t the only attribute that makes for a successful pitcher. When young players and their parents see these astronomical speeds they are much more likely to become discouraged or the strive for something that is outside their reach.
When one of the games best pitchers tells us the truth we are all wise to listen!
Comments? Questions? Suggestions?