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Sunday, August 12, 2012
Why aren't there more MLB knuckleballers?

By Jim Caple




When a pitcher such as R.A. Dickey salvages a career by developing a knuckleball and throwing it well enough to make the All-Star team and possibly win 20 games, this logical question comes up:

Why the heck aren't teams trying to resurrect the careers of other players by developing knuckleballers?

"That's a fantastic question," Dickey said. "And whenever I've posed that question to someone who might influence a decision to do that, the answer is always that those [minor league] roster spots are valuable, whatever that means.

"It maybe does require a general manager or a farm director to think outside the box. But if you were going to risk that spot on a guy you were going to release anyway, who had great makeup and you think might have a shot, and if he could be even half as productive as Phil Niekro was, wouldn't you want to take that chance?"

Off Base
I certainly would if I ran the Rockies.

But no teams do. Otherwise, we'd be seeing more frustrated batters smashing the dugout toilet with their bats after swinging and missing at a 70 mph floater that suddenly darted a foot outside the strike zone.

Why don't teams teach borderline pitchers the knuckler? Partly because there is a bias against it. It isn't a manly pitch. Catchers can't catch it. The people who throw it are different; they're better suited for writing books than pitching.

Which is just nonsense. As Dickey proves, you can write a best-seller AND pitch in the All-Star Game.

• Click here to read Jim Caple's Off Base column in its entirety