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Tuesday, June 23, 2015

The Race to Become the First-Ever Female Human to play Major League Baseball....The Heat Shall be ON.

Out of all the major North American sports, baseball, is by far the most gentlemanly of the bunch. Just to be sure let's list the concussion rates for all the sports. (concussion rates from the CDC).

These rates are per 1000 "athletic exposures" which I assume means a "game" basically.


1. Football (American): 64-79 concussions
2. Hockey: ~54 concussions
3. Soccer/Football (Euro-Style): ~20
4. Basketball: 16-20
5. Baseball: 4-5

So, out of the big deal sports....baseball only generates 4-5 concussions per 1000 games. Now, I can only think of a few situations where massive contact happens in baseball and it's mainly catcher-runovers, fielder collisions, fastballs up-and-in, and a few other situations.

For good measure let's put the concussion rate recorded for Cheerleading (the sexy womens who bounce around and flop around at football games and stuff)....

Cheer Leading: 11-15

Cheer leading, when they throw those chicks around and they land on their skulls and this and that...actually causes more concussions than baseball does.

Where am I going with this, you ask...well, if you haven't divined it from the title of the article yet....I'm going to suggest that baseball might be the only major sport ever that will at some point have a female human playing on the same field with male humans.

All the other sports are very combative, full contact, and highly physical events. However, baseball is very individualistic, pitcher vs. batter, a non-contact game that only in very rare circumstances becomes mano-y-mano and dangerous.

The BIGGEST hang-up for women entering baseball to occur really has to do with pitching inside. Pitchers and batters constantly battle over who owns the inside portion of the plate. Batters may lean in like that Carl Everett used to do and willingly get hit by a pitch....and pitchers will "brush back" the hitters to regain control of that meaty part of the strike zone. This war over the inside portion of home plate leads to most if not ALL the bench clearing ultra-violent brawls in Major League Baseball.

Now, look...say a woman pitcher hits a heavy-leanin' Carl Everett type hitter to brush him off...and this will likely occur....what would happen? A player uses the "charge the mound" technique to let a pitcher know not to throw so close to him next time he's up....so....what if a batter charges a female pitcher? This becomes murky waters now and really causes problems. No man would want to be known as the guy who charged and tried to punch a chick in the face.....so yeah, this is a big problem.

Similarly, if a female is hitting and the male pitcher wants to declare or re-declare the inside portion of the plate and whips one inside...now let's say the female hitter gets incensed and charges the male pitcher. What is the man gonna do just stand there and let her punch him? No, he would have to defend himself. People got on Pedro's case for example when that old 70+ year old Gerbil charged him...but what was Pedro gonna do? Just let Zimmer punch him in the face? No, that's crazy.

For this women in baseball situation to work, the one thing MLB would have to do is declare a NO BRAWLS rule whilst a female is batting and/or pitching and if a brawl does break out both players will be suspended for a complete season...the man and the woman. Thus, chances are this situation would never take place in a future circumstance.

Okay......so, technically with one rule change....yes a female baseball player at the MLB level could feasibly exist without issue at some point in the future.


History
The lady that struck out Babe Ruth

Jackie Mitchell (right)
Legend has it that at an exhibition-style event in the olden times....a lady named Jackie Mitchell struck out Babe Ruth. So, due to this feat women in baseball have some history to work with, I'd say. How gimmicky this event was cannot be determined, was it a gag? A show? A shtick....or was it a serious event? Who knows...but it is recorded in history, legend or not, that one Jackie Mitchell struck out Babe Ruth and maybe Lou Gehrig too.

I'm not sure what Mitchell threw, what kind of pitches, and how fast....but at least this event stands as a sort of point of historical departure...and thusly....makes nay-sayers find that this idea isn't all that crazy.

Obviously, olden time baseball was pretty gimmicky. Everyone knows about Bill Veeck, for instance, sneaking a midget past league officials onto his roster and getting that midget Eddie Gaedel in to pinch hit in an official game. This Jackie Mitchell exhibition was likely pretty gimmicky as well and shouldn't be taken super seriously.


...But Seriously
Can a female in the present and near-future era become a Major League Baseball Player?

Gimmicks aside, is there a woman who is skilled enough at baseball to compete, 100% not gimmickly, with male humans at the most elite of human levels?

For a pitcher you'd need someone with enough arm strength to powerfully supinate thousands of arm motions per year. The only people who can do this are masochists, literally, that's the only people who can supinate vigorous arm motions constantly...total masochists. Not to be sexist...but are there that many women out there who can handle a major league pitcher's life style? I'm not so sure.

Eri Yoshida - Oneesan
In an article a long time ago I mentioned that Eri Yoshida would be a good candidate because she throws knuckle balls and those pitches don't strain the arm. Knuckle ballers in the big league cruise around well past their early thirties and have way less arm trouble than conventional pitching styles. Hoyt Wilhelm for example threw those junk balls in the majors (in the pre-steroid era) until he was 49 years old. Knuckle balls are a technique pitch that break 1.5 times making it difficult for hitters to adjust. If a woman could master the knuckle ball, like Eri Yoshida was attempting, then I think they could bypass the arm damage problem entirely.

Another idea to bypass arm damage could be instead of training young female pitchers to supinate their arm release action pitches...they should be trained to powerfully pronate their arm release action as suggested by Mike Marshall.

What is supination and pronation? Take your right hand, turn your thumb all the way to the right, and now punch your arm forward with that right thumb pointing as hard you can to the right. How did it feel? Now, take your arm back, turn that same thumb down this time towards yourself and point it to the ground and punch fastly forward again. Which punch felt more normal? When the thumb was out or in?

Basically the first punch with the thumb "out" was Supination....the second punch with the thumb "in" was Pronation. So what is pronation? It's a simple technique to not destroy your elbow and shoulder while you throw baseballs a multitude of times ad nauseam (amongst other things).

If a young female can be taught pronation pitches....I believe that woman could theoretically throw a series of elite-caliber pitches without causing excess damage to her body.

Mo "Money" Ne Davis
Personally, I think this is very feasible. Take someone right now with EXTREME talent, say, Mo'Ne Ikea Davis (that girl who was smokin' kids at the Little League World Series). Take someone with that Soul Intensity, Desire to Win, and Talent....and teach that kid a minimum of 3 pronation pitches to add to her arsenal and I believe she can develop into a major league pitcher. I'm soundly convinced of that...but only if she adds pronation pitches to her arsenal and uses those 80-90% of the throws she makes.

Look, there's very few knuckle ballers who can master that pitch to the point where they can have good ERAs at the Major League level. A more conventional pitcher like Mo'Ne may have better odds to make it. I think it would be a good idea for her coaches to experiment with pronation style pitches to maximize her development.

France's Melissa Mayeux
What about hitters and fielders? Maybe the first woman player can be someone who doesn't have to deal with the rigorous lifestyle of a pitcher. The main candidate at this point for the most developed hitting and fielding prospect is, as everyone knows right now, France's phenom Melissa Mayeux who is the first female ever in history to be added into the scouts master database and is legally allowed to sign a professional contract at the Major League level.

She's not big, she looks like a female version of Dustin Pedroia, short but athletic build, good fielder, good contact hitter.

In this post-steroid era we are going to see a return to center where a lot of the massive bodies are gonna slow down and we're gonna see a game more like the old days again.

I remember guys like the Craig Grebecks, the Jeff Reboulets, the Mike "Mad Dog" Mordecais, Andy Stankiewitzes, John Cangelosi types and guys like that...guys who were like 160 pounds (at the most) having spots on major league rosters. There's quite a few woman athletes who are bigger than those guys so it's not far fetched that the benches of the future could be filled with slick fielding chicks and slap hitting womens.

There's room for about 6 or 7 reserves on a Major League bench...you want players on your bench who have good fundamentals and a variety of tools you can use situationally. Even if a player excels in only ONE of the FIVE tools a player needs they can find a bench job. Can you run fast? You can be a pinch runner like a Larry Lintz. Can you field a difficult position like shortstop well? Then you can find a job on a bench somewhere. Can you get hits or walks or bunt? That's a skill managers need on their bench.

I'm sure there's females out there who can either run, field, or hit at a level where they could be very useful in a reserve role. Mentioning Pedroia before....even if you're 170 pounds you can become an All-Star like he did if you hone your fundamentals correctly.

Who Will it Be?

Will it be a junky-style Knuckle Baller like Eri Yoshida? I heard she's training with Tim Wakefield to further master the pitch.

Will it be a highly talented pitcher like Mo'Ne Davis? With the right coaches teaching her pitches that won't kill her small frame...it's possible.

Will it be a role-player type slick fielder, pinch hitter, pinch runner type? A kind of Munenori Kawaski style player? Could be, I don't see why not....some of the builds of baseball players over the years who've made major league rosters thanks to hard work and skill honing have been very small. Craig Grebeck was listed as 5'8 and 160 pounds in the media books and those are always 2 inches over and 10 pounds more...so he was likely 5 foot 6 and 150 pounds that Craig Grebeck...no doubt. You don't need to be a behemoth to make a roster in MLB. It could be someone like Melissa Mayeux who I heard is honing her skills with Baseball Masters such as Barry Larkin, Steve Finley, and Steve Jeltz.

I think Mo'Ne would be interesting because she was such a huge news item. Her coaches should be in correspondence with Mike Marshall if I were them....asking what kind of pronation pitches would be ideal for her frame to work with.

Conclusion

Out of all sports, due to baseball's low concussion rates, it is the only sport which may be infiltrated by females and the year it'll happen is drawing closer....2020? Could be.

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