So I'm watching MLB Now with Brian Kenny and (today) Tom Verducci, and everybody's making a lot of sense about one-run games and stuff, and then James Shields pops up, getting interviewed on the field in Kansas City. Which reminded me that James Shields wrote a book!
Yeah, you probably missed it. But I'm not making this up, and I have it. It's a slim volume, but exceptionally well-written (he got some help from a professional writer, Bill Chastain). Most of the book's about the late stages of the 2010 American League East race, but I'm a nerd and loved this snippet of Shield's three-page history of his change-up:
Since I didn't have my fastball back but wasn't ready to quit baseball, I knew I had to come up with something to get hitters out, and refining the changeup seemed like one of my best options. After experimenting with several grips, I found the one I still use today -- love at first sight. I think my grip is unique, because I use certain elements of the circle change -- which is the most popular changeup grip -- but with some variations. Having been around the league for a while, I haven't found anybody else who grips the ball for a changeup the way I do. Most guys throw it using their middle finger, but I throw it off my index finger -- my power finger -- which allows me to stay behind the ball a little bit extra. Doing it that way gives the ball a little more depth. I consider the pitch to be a power changeup.
Did I mention that I'm a nerd? I find this stuff a lot more interesting than complaining about the Rays' lack of fan support (although that's sort of interesting too, for a while).