Tuesday, Deadspin published Barry Petchesky's outstanding history of the gyroball, a mythical pitch first described at length in a Japanese book with the delicious (translated) title, SECRETS OF THE MIRACLE DEMON PITCH. Apparently the pitch was entirely theoretical, and if Daisuke Matsuzaka ever threw one -- as advertised -- it was an accident, essentially a poorly thrown slider.
Will Carroll, then with Baseball Prospectus, got ahold of SECRETS OF THE MIRACLE DEMON PITCH, but couldn't read Japanese and got the gyroball confused with the shuuto (which is a real thing). "That's my fault," Carroll told Petchesky. "I made a mistake."
So nobody really throws the gyroball on purpose. Does that mean nobody could?
Theoretically, it's a devastating out pitch, if the risk/reward ratio could be tilted far enough in the pitcher's favor. Nathan, who dismissed the idea that anyone was using it regularly, still believes someone could master it to the point of usability. "If a pitcher could throw it on demand," he says, "and sparingly, just enough to keep batters off balance, it would be a useful pitch."
Carroll thinks it'll take time to overcome the stigma that sprouted up when the myth began to fall away, but that the value of its novelty almost demands its use. "The comic books made it out to be this mystical, unhittable pitch," he says. "But it's not a Bugs Bunny pitch. It's just a pitch. But it's good because it's different. Like if you've never seen a slider before, you're not going to hit it."
We haven't seen a truly new pitch in quite some time. The closest, or at least the most exciting, is R.A. Rickey's angry knuckleball. But whether it's the gyroball or something else, there's gotta be a new pitch out there. Somewhere. Waiting to be discovered and mastered and added to the repertoires of our great game's moundsmen.