How to Throw a Baseball Harder Without Throwing Your Arm out

how to throw a baseball harder
Universal Pictures

Let’s take a guess at what’s happening in your life right now. Did you get suckered into joining your company’s softball team? Or maybe you inadvertently signed up to coach your kid’s little league? Either way, in the era of dad, you’re suddenly remembering you’re not 20 years old anymore.

So, you’re asking yourself (read: The internet) how to throw a baseball harder. You know, as you did in the good ol’ days…whilst not immediately landing yourself on the injured reserve list. First, we’d like to leave you with one seriously important note: Accuracy is far more important than speed. Think of all the famous first pitches you’ve seen over the years. The ones that stick out the most are the ones that were lobbed twelve feet to the right of the pitcher. Not the ones that simply fell short.

However, if strength and speed are what you’re looking for, there are some simple steps you can take to make sure you ace your triumphant return to throwing a baseball.

Always Warm-Up

Starting your pre-game with a laid back, steadily increasing game of catch is the key here. You need to warm up your arm before you go balls to the wall during the game.

We get it. The last thing you want to do when you hit the gym is to spend 15 minutes doing a brisk walk on the treadmill. In that same light, the last thing you want to be seen doing is lackadaisical tossing around the ball pre-game. But, my dude, you’re going to have to do it. You’ve seen plenty of shots of million-dollar pitchers warming up in the bullpen.

Work On Your Form

Wanna end up in the hospital with a strained or torn rotator cuff? Nope. Just like when you’re playing golf with the boys, tossing a baseball is all about form, too. From where you place your feet to how you hold your shoulders, everything matters. Having the best posture and form will make a ton of difference in what kind of velocity you put into that pitch.

Pay Attention To The Release

There’s a ton of things to think about as you rock back and then push forward with your pitch. Once you perfect your posture, though, think about how you’re standing and when you’re releasing the ball. As the coach mentioned above, you pitch with your whole body and not just your arm. Moving your body behind the ball will give it more push forward. Furthermore, noting where you’re letting go of the ball is also important. If you release the ball too far back, you’re not giving the full push behind it and if you release it too late, you’re pushing the ball downward.

Run Some Drills

You’re already telling your kids how important it is to practice, practice, practice, right? Same goes for you, Pops. Drills are the absolute best way to perfect your form, keep your muscles warm, loose and, of course, increase the strength and speed of your pitch.

You Go Pro Baseball has ten easy, popular pitching drills to try. Our suggestion: Do several sets of 2 to 3 of these each night of the week. It shouldn’t take more than 5 to 10 minutes but over time will greatly improve your pitch and reduce your chance of having do visit Dr. James Andrews.

 

 

Grocery Bagging Championship and More “ESPN8: The Ocho” Is Back Tomorrow

The Ocho
(20th Century Fox)

ESPN Ocho returns to the airwaves for the fourth straight year, as ESPN dropped the news today that ESPN2 will be going full Ocho tomorrow, August 8th (8/8). That means we’ll get a full day of some of the greatest sports you’ve never seen.

The tradition was inspired by the 2004 comedy “Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story” which had the dodgeball tournament broadcasted on the fictional sports channel “The Ocho.” ESPN has adopted the idea to show seldom-seen sports every 8/8 for the past few years.

This year brings a mix of Ocho classics and epic new events to “ESPN8: The Ocho”, which will actually be shown on ESPN2 and the ESPN App. Some of the new programming this year includes the 2019 Grit ‘N Wit National College Championship, which is courses that include obstacles and puzzles. There’s a documentary on foosball players, the 2019 ITSF Foosball World Cup, and the World Deadlift Attempt – Hafthor Deadlift.

The event I’m most excited about? The Ohio Grocery Baggers Bowl 2020. It’s described as 30 contestants facing off to win the coveted Ceramic Bag award (I’m in!), a $1,000 cash prize, and a trip to San Diego to compete for the National Bagging Championship at NGA’s National Convention. I am just learning about all of these things for the first time, and I am already committed to making this priority viewing.

As a new twist this year, ESPN is partnering with Fortnite to show ESPN8 content in Party Royale. Unconventional sports like death diving and robot fights will be shown on the Party Royale Big Screen for the first time.

You can get the full ESPN8 lineup from the ESPN website, and remember to check it out on ESPN2 tomorrow starting at 8 a.m.

HBO Doc Explores Mental Health Struggles of Olympic Athletes

Weight of Gold Trailer
(YouTube/HBO)

The Olympics was supposed to be this August, but like so many things, COVID-19 put the kibosh on the summer games. Men and woman all over the world dedicate their lives to qualifying and performing in the Olympic Games, and now they’ll have to wait for them to resume.

They’ll surely spend the additional time training, as they’ve bee doing for years. It’s not an easy road, it requires extreme physical conditioning and intense mental stamina. For many, especially those competing in the lesser-known, less commercial sports, the Olympics are their one shot at and brush with fame. The experience takes its toll.

A new HBO documentary, The Weight of Gold, explores the mental toll the Olympics take on many of the athletes, with a focus on the red-hot spotlight they are under during the games, and the sudden darkness in which they’re left when those two weeks are over.

Featuring interviews with Olympic legends Michael Phelps, Shaun White, Bode Miller, and more, in which they discuss the depression that comes with the abrupt transition out of the spotlight, the documentary is now available on HBO and HBO Max.

Check out the trailer:

The Rock Just Bought the XFL

XFL The Rock
(Twitter/TheRock)

The Rock bought the XFL. It’s the type of fun story we don’t have enough of in 2020. A pro sports league, run by a wrestling promoter, that’s full of promise and potential with its reboot. Then a pandemic hits, everyone gets laid off, and that promoter sells it to…his most famous wrestler. Dwayne Johnson partnered with RedBird Capital and bought the bankrupt football league for a bargain at just $15 million.

And sure, everyone is gonna make the same joke about how this sounds like it could be a story arc in The Rock’s HBO Show “Ballers”, where he plays a former NFL player-turned-financial investor.

While COVID crippled the season and left the future of the league in doubt, it was fun for a (brief) while, and there’s loads of potential there for whenever a restart is feasible. If you watched some of the new XFL, you probably enjoyed it!

The Rock issued a statement about his acquisition (of which he’s a 50-50 partner).

“The acquisition of the XFL with my talented partners, Dany Garcia and Gerry Cardinale, is an investment for me that’s rooted deeply in two things – my passion for the game and my desire to always take care of the fans.”

“With pride and gratitude for all that I’ve built with my own two hands, I plan to apply these callouses to the XFL, and look forward to creating something special for the players, fans, and everyone involved for the love of football.”

Even his quote, about applying his callouses to the XFL and creating something special…I mean, is there anyone as motivational as The Rock? Fans, and most importantly, players, should feel optimistic for the first time in a long time, because of Johnson’s overwhelming track record of success. He’s become one of the biggest stars in Hollywood and has been killing it in movies and TV (and now he’s branching out into tequila and sports leagues). And I’m sure he’d be gratified to succeed where Vince McMahon failed.

Stadium Food Delivered, Masked Arguments and More Baseball 2020 Oddities

Baseball in 2020
(Dodgers.com Twitter/FSMidwest)

Major League Baseball has been able to start their truncated season, but fans may be feeling left out by not getting to sit in the stands to watch their favorite team. It’s one thing to be watching at home and another to be scarfing down a Dodger dog and eating nachos out of a souvenir helmet. Fortunately for some teams, they can still get the “ballpark experience” at home, as stadium food is available for order and delivery.

Home Plates is selling Dodgers fan a variety of ballpark options and delivering to LA fans. Among the food available: the infamous Dodger dog, garlic fries, and some items specially created for the fans at home, including Dodger Blue Gelato. Home Plates is a collaboration between the L.A. Dodgers and Postmates and sounds pretty awesome.

“Los Angeles sports fans will now have year-round access to their favorite stadium flavors, whether it’s for a gourmet gameday, celebration or just to satisfy an everyday craving,” said a Dodgers spokesman.

Stadium food delivered to your house is just one of the oddities for 2020. I mean, just for starters, the first pitch of the season was thrown by America’s most famous infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci. And it was terrible! Celebrating terrible ceremonial pitches is one thing that can bring all fans together.

As soon as the pitch happened, everyone made the same dad joke (he’s a virologist, he doesn’t want anyone to catch anything) and about social distancing the ball from the catcher. Good times.

Oh, an infectious disease expert throwing out the ceremonial first pitch not weird enough for you? Well, Topps also made a Dr. Fauci baseball card, which quickly became the fastest-selling card in baseball card history. Even Dr. Fauci said baseball’s greatest players would be looking down in confusion at that news.

In other “only in 2020” baseball moments, we may not have the spitting and high-fives players are used to, but we still have classic umpire-manager arguments and ejections. Only now, they both have to calmly put on masks before going after each other.

Of course, we’re still getting plenty of great baseball action for the first time in nearly a year. And some of the highlights and spats help fans forget about everything awful for a minute. It’s even cathartic to relive old feuds, such as Joe Kelly throwing at an Astro and taunting another after a strikeout, as payback for the Astros cheating scandal that was the talk of the offseason. It even prompted our first bench-clearing of the bizarre 2020 season.

He was given a big suspension (relatively) for his actions, as somehow he got punished worse than the entire team that cheated their way to a World Series. Other MLB pitchers agreed.

And at least his taunting gave us our first meme-able moment of the MLB season.

The NBA Is Using Fans With Webcams in Virtual Courtside Seats

NBA Webcam Fans
(Bleacher Report)

The NBA restart has been fantastic television and has already given us some great highlights. The league seems to be doing everything right, as no players have tested positive for COVID-19. And the NBA has become the first of the major pro sports leagues to have fans back in courtside seats. Yeah, OK, so they aren’t there in person, but the league has utilized virtual fans on their courtside video screens.

This isn’t the fake fans the NFL is planning to use, these are fans watching and responding to the action real-time (with a delay of a few seconds) and reacting on webcams. The league is displaying the groups of fans on the 17-foot LED screens surrounding the floor. The league is utilizing Microsoft Teams “Together” mode to put fans in the virtual courtside seats.

The results are kind of cool actually. It’s better than nothing, and because they constantly change up what’s on the screens, it doesn’t get too boring either.

And, you never know who is gonna show up. Eagle-eyed fans even spotted a few former players, including former All-Stars Chris Bosh and Kerry Kittles.


The process for getting to snag one of the virtual seats is different for each team. Some teams have a form on their website for interested fans. Others have been just reaching out to season ticket holders and team VIPs. A few NBA sponsors also have some real estate, and are running contests for fans to snag “seats.”

If you are one of the lucky ones to get to watch from one of the virtual seats, there are a few rules. Seats are limited to one person each, no signs, no inappropriate messages, and no offensive behavior. Moderators monitor each fan “section” can have the power to remove them.

So, if Chris Bosh magically disappears, it may be technical difficulties, or he may have been given the boot (this is just a joke, only the New York Knicks would get out a legend).

Cancer Survivor Nate Solder Opts-Out of NFL Season Due to Son’s Cancer

Nate Solder
(Getty/Al Bello)

New York Giants offensive lineman Nate Solder became the most high-profile player to opt-out of the 2020 NFL season, as the former first-round draft pick announced his difficult decision on Wednesday. Solder said, after consulting with his family, he has decided to pause for this season.

A major factor for Solder? His son, who is battling cancer. Having a high-risk child changes the equation completely. Solder himself is a cancer survivor, having battled testicular cancer five years ago.

“Our family has health concerns, most notably our son’s ongoing battle with cancer, as well as my own bout with cancer. We also welcomed a new addition to our family this spring, a baby boy,” Solder said in his statement. “With fear and trembling, we struggle to keep our priorities in order and, for us, our children’s health and the health of our neighbors comes before football.”

Solder is giving up a lot trading a season as an offensive tackle for a season just as a dad. He would’ve made nearly $10 million in salary to play the 2020 season. Instead, he’ll collect the $350,000 stipend $9.9 million this season and now will collect only the $350,000 stipend the NFL is allowing for high-risk players who opt-out.

Solder has made a name for himself with a long career (by NFL standards) marked by being a starter on several Super Bowl-winning teams, but even more so by his actions off the field. Solder is a giant of a player (he’s 6-9 and over 300 pounds), but his heart is even bigger, as he’s made a habit of supporting multiple charities and causes. His outstanding charity work earned him a nomination for the NFL’s “Man of the Year” award on multiple occasions throughout his career.

Giant head coach Joe Judge, who also was a coach on the Patriots staff while Solder was in New England, said Nate made the decision that was best for his family, and that the entire organization supported him in that decision.

Dont’a Hightower Opts Out of Season Citing Concern for Newborn and Mom

Dont'a Hightower Opts Out
(Instagram/_boomtower)

Major League Baseball is back, the NBA is about to, and the NFL is skipping preseason games and entering training camp. But as COVID numbers continue to surge across the country, it is yet to be seen whether these games will go on long enough to finish their seasons.

MLB is already encountering major problems, even after shortening their season to a mere 60 games. Several members of the Marlins have gotten sick, causing panic in league offices and giving commissioner Rob Manfred another black mark. Meanwhile, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver is sitting pretty as his 300+ bubbled-up players in Orlando continue to show no cases despite continual testing.

The NFL is next up, and they’ve mostly been quiet as training camp looms. But some players are opting out, with the New England Patriots, recent Cam Newton signers, facing some of the most high profile defections.

The latest is Dont’a Hightower, as reported by ESPN’s Adam Schefter. The linebacker is a team captain and three-time Super Bowl winner, but he’s also a dad who had a baby a mere two weeks ago, and he’s opting out of the season out of concern for his family’s health.

Hightower joins Patriots tackle Marcus Cannon, safety Patrick Chung, RBs Brandon Bolden, and Danny Vitale, and offensive linemen Najee Toran in sitting out the season. Not only does Hightower have a new baby, but his mother is also at higher risk due to her diabetes, as he shared on his Instagram a couple of years ago.

According to CNN, Hightower and other players who choose to skip this season will receive a $150,000 salary advance, with players who are “high-risk” getting an additional bonus, as per an agreement between the league and the player’s union. There is no deadline yet set for when players have to decide if they’re opting out, but as September approaches, things are getting more urgent.

The Patriots already lost Tom Brady to the Buccaneers, and with multiple players choosing safety over football, their path to the playoffs, and another AFC East title, is going to be rougher than ever. If the season actually happens.

 

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Mahomes, New Royals Owner, #4 on NFL Players List, Is Taking Notes

Mahomes taking notes
(Twitter/thelaymansterms)

2020 has been pretty rough for most of us. But most of us aren’t Patrick Mahomes.

The 24-year-old quarterback of the Kansas City Chiefs won his first Super Bowl and first Super Bowl MVP award in February in a thrilling comeback against the San Francisco 49ers. And while recent months have seen the sports world shut down during a pandemic, you’ve got to assume Mahomes is still enjoying something of a victory lap. It can’t hurt that last month he signed the most expensive contract in NFL history, securing a ten-year future with his team in the process.

To follow that up, Mahomes, the son of major league pitcher Pat Mahomes, recently acquired an ownership stake in the Kansas City Royals, which, on top of his decade-plus deal with the Chiefs, seems to really make it clear that he isn’t leaving the city any time soon.

Things are going pretty well for the young phenom. At least, they were. Until the NFL released its list of the league’s top 100 players.

That’s right. Somehow, the reigning Super Bowl champ and Super Bowl MVP, a mere season removed from the league MVP award, is ranked 4th. Raven’s phenom Lamar Jackson got the number one spot, despite flaming out in the playoffs two years in a row. You get the feeling that the likable, charismatic, seemingly easygoing Mahomes takes most things in stride, but the good news for Chiefs fans is that this does not seem to be one of those things.

The QB responded to his second straight year at the number four spot on the list with a tweet that was short and to the point:

My man is taking notes and/or making a list, presumably of the people in front of him on the NFL’s list, in a clear indication that he is not planning to forget this snub anytime soon.

Twitter reacted, including longtime NBA player and Boston College alum (ever to excel!) Jared Dudley, who is scared – probably for everyone else in the NFL:

Players of Mahomes’ caliber don’t get where they are without being competitive, and while the young QB often seems laidback, he didn’t become the youngest Super Bowl MVP and Super Bowl winner by not caring. And if he did, well, the league is about to be in even more trouble, because he cares now.

At the top of this piece, I mentioned that things were going pretty well for Mahomes until these rankings came out, but I was wrong. They’re still going well for him. If the past few years are any indication, it’s everyone else in the league that is going to suffer.

Steelers Running Back Strikes Again, Surprises Mom With New House

James Conner Buys Mom New Home
(Instagram/jamesconner)

Pittsburgh Steelers running back James Conner has done it again. Last month, he made a splash with his emotional video of surprising his dad with a truck. The dynamic player wanted to show his dad how much he appreciated his support and the video he shared was viewed more than 6 million times.

And now, he’s taken care of mom. Conner shared the grand unveiling on Instagram, and the video is every bit as moving as the one of his dad. His mom is in tears almost instantly.

Conner wrote on Instagram that it was a thank you for all of her sacrifices.

“Welcome HOME Ma! You’ve sacrificed so much and we can’t thank you enough! You’re the reason I go to work day in and day out, to finally give you a place you can call Home. I Love you”


So mom and dad are taken care of, who is next? Conner has basically turned his social media accounts into a Christmas in Summer sideshow, so maybe he finds a way to thank any siblings, cousins, or former grade school classmate next?

A truly awesome move by a great player, who is starting to turn into Oprah with his grand giveaways, but we are here for it.

NFL Player Opts Out of Season to Stay on COVID-19 Frontlines

Laurent Duvernay-Tardif
(Instagram/LaurentDuvernayTardif)

As the NFL continues its preparation for the upcoming season, the league has had its first high profile opt-out. The defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs will be without a starting offensive lineman, as Laurent Duvernay-Tardif said he won’t be playing this season. But his reason for not playing is pretty strong, as Duvernay-Tardif is skipping the season so he can stay on the frontlines of fighting the COVID-19 pandemic.

Duvernay-Tardif has a medical degree and has been working at a Montreal hospital during the offseason. The right guard will be turning down his $2 million salary to instead help care for those affected by the coronavirus. In his statement, he called it one of the most difficult decisions he’s ever made, but that he had to follow his convictions.

“Being at the frontline during this offseason has given me a different perspective on this pandemic and the stress it puts on individuals and our healthcare system,” he wrote. “I cannot allow myself to potentially transmit the virus in our communities simply to play the sport that I love. If I am to take risks, I will do it caring for patients.”

His team supported his decision 100 percent. Head coach Andy Reid told reporters he was a huge LDT fan.

“We’re all blessed to have doctors in our lives. They’re givers; they not takers. They’re givers, and they’re healers, so they want the best for you,” Reid said. “So Larry has that quality, and you’re seeing it to the utmost here. I just think it’s tremendous dedication to his profession, what his future’s gonna be, and mainly to the people that he gets to help.”

Reid said he knows Duvernay-Tardif will be one of the best doctors ever after his football career. Teammate and Super Bowl MVP Patrick Mahomes said everyone on the team supports the decision.

“Everybody that I spoke to, everybody respects the decision 100 percent,” said Mahomes. “Larry’s a guy who loves football, but he also loves his other passions, and being a doctor is extremely important, especially at this time we’re at in this world…He’s seen it first hand, and he understands that he needs to be in that place now and we’re going to respect it and give him as much support as we can.”

It’s a selfless move from a player to turn down millions to instead help his community through the worst pandemic in a century, and it’s just as awesome to see the overwhelming support from his teammates.

“Deputy” Shaquille O’Neal Helps Motorist Stranded After Car Crash

Shaq helps motorist
(Facebook/Alachua County Sheriff)

Being stranded on the side of the highway can be an unsettling experience, and an assist from a good Samaritan can go a long way. And even more surprising than getting in a car accident on the highway would be when the good Samaritan that pulls over to help you is an NBA legend.

Shaquille O’Neal provided a major assist to a stranded motorist in Florida as he witnessed a crash and pulled over to check on the woman involved. He waited with her until law enforcement arrived. According to Alachua County Sheriff’s Facebook page, he fist-bumped the deputies on his way out after handing the case over to the professionals. The officers thanked Shaq for stopping to help.

 

Yesterday, Shaquille O’Neal was traveling through Alachua County on I-75 when he witnessed a crash. He stopped to check on the welfare of the driver and remained with her until law enforcement arrived. He fist bumped Deputies Purington and Dillon before going on his way. Hey Basketball Cop Foundation you’re not the only one that knows Shaq.

Posted by Alachua County Sheriff on Tuesday, July 14, 2020

This isn’t the first time O’Neal helped at a car accident. A few years ago, near Thanksgiving, Shaq came across a car crash and pulled over to help comfort the kids involved.

The four-time NBA champion (and eventual Hall-of-Famer) is no stranger to helping provide an assist to law enforcement either. He has been deputized as a reserve deputy in multiple states, including California, Arizona, Georgia, and Florida.


As fierce as he was on the court in his prime, seeing the giant roll up on the scene now means help has arrived.

Bill Murray, Hand Sanitizer at First Base and Virtual Fans: Baseball Is Back!

Bill Murray and Bear 7th Inning
(Twitter/WatchMarquee)

It’s weird, it’s a little different, but it’s here! Baseball is officially back. MLB had the Opening Day for their truncated season and we’ve had our first real baseball in nearly 10 months. The first MLB games also mark the return of major professional sports in America, as all of the major team sports leagues have been halted since the spring (insert angry MLS fan here).

Things started with what you’d expect from 2020. Dr. Anthony Fauci was selected to throw out the ceremonial first pitch for the MLB’s first game, and he pitched about as well as his favorite team, the defending World Series champions the Washington Nationals, played that night.

This is a good time to mention the dad joke everyone made at the same time. “He is an infectious disease expert, he does not want anyone to catch anything.” Politics and science aside, we can all enjoy the low-stakes hilarity of a truly awful first pitch.

Baseball also looked different as we got our first look at fan cut-outs. They actually are pretty cool. The stadiums that aren’t using them need to get on board quickly, because it is more aesthetically pleasing to see them scattered about.

It was awesome to see one, in particular, comedian and actor Brody Stevens, who passed away last year, back at Dodgers Stadium (he was a hardcore baseball fan).

While some stadiums are using cut-outs, Fox is experimenting with virtual fans for their baseball broadcasts. This, too, is actually pretty cool.

When it comes to actual gameplay, of course, there’s going to be some differences beyond just who is in the stands. Like when you get on base and have the opposing team offer you hand sanitizer. That was the case for Chicago Cubs star Anthony Rizzo, who pulled some out to offer a Brewer after he got on base early in their game against the Chicago Cubs.

Rizzo was on top of his game as well as his safety precautions, as he homered in the Cubs 3-0 win. And while fans may not be at Wrigley Field this year, that doesn’t mean all traditions die. Such as the iconic seventh-inning stretch, with a celebrity singing ‘Take me out to the ballgame.’ Superfan and comedy legend Bill Murray was there for game 1, to help carry on the Chicago tradition. Sure, it was virtual, but he still did it as only Bill Murray can, with a giant bear at his side.

Fans were a little more mixed on some of the new rule changes, including the extra innings rule where teams start with a runner on second base. Many on Twitter were complaining that it’s a solution in search of a problem, while some were just glad it resulted in one walk-off grand slam.

And if you’re looking for a dark horse to win the World Series in this shortened season, look no further than the Cincinnati Reds. They quietly upgraded their bats in the offseason (newcomer Mike Moustakas homered in their Opening Day win), Joey Votto is still Joey Votto, and the Reds have one of the best starting rotations in all of baseball. Sonny Gray was outstanding in their first game. Baseball’s oldest professional team has a contender for the first time in a while.

Baseball is different, but baseball is back. And for now, it gives sports fans something positive to watch and talk about, something that has been extremely rare in 2020.