It's not hard to reason this one but you migh...
Pitching in baseball is the equivalent of--but not the same as--bowling in cricket. Unlike bowling, pitching involves hurling the ball towards the batter from a mound while using a bent-arm action. While pitching seems easier than bowling, it is in fact one of the toughest jobs in sports. Pitching a full game, comprising nine innings of three outs each, takes a lot out of a pitcher, who has to recuperate for at least a couple of days before he plays again.
A pitcher gets into position on the pitcher's mound, which is 18.39 meters away from the home plate (where the batter takes strike). The pitcher then raises his front leg (which would be the left one for a right-hander and vice versa) to gather momentum and then leans forward on it as he completes the pitching motion with his good arm.
The ideal release point of a pitch is typically in line with the shoulders, and it take a lot of practice to get this particular aspect right. In fact, the release point is a critical aspect in judging a pitcher and how effective he can be in the long run.
In baseball, a pitcher has to throw the ball without bouncing it on the ground, he still has quite a few variations at his behest. Some of the most popular ones are the change-up (which has a four-finger grip and is akin to the slower-ball in cricket), the fast ball (typically, this has a two-finger grip), the slider (this is the one that drifts downwards, and is pitched with a specific two-finger grip) and the ever-popular curveball (which, like the slider, dives downward but is much sharper in its trajectory).
The objective of pitching is to get a batter out. This happens by way of a strike out (which is when the batter misses three balls in his strike zone on the home plate), a run out or a catch--the last two are exactly the same as they are in cricket.
As far as gear is concerned, a pitcher wears a glove in the "other" hand. This allows him to field the baseball whenever necessary and it also allows him to hide his pitching grip from the batter. However, the greatest weapon in a pitcher's armoury is his ability to outfox the batter!
Major League Baseball (MLB), which is the sport's marquee league, has produced quite a few legendary pitchers over the years. However, Cy Young, who pitched for five teams over a period of 21 years, is regarded as the best of all time by many. In fact, two best pitchers in MLB (one from each division) are presented the Cy Young Award each year.
Other pitching greats include Nolar Ryan, Sandy Koufax and Walter Johnson. Among the current players, Roy Halladay, Tim Lincecum and Cliff Lee, are regarded as the best in the business. Most of these pitchers have clocked speeds in excess of 160 kmph!
Here's a look at some of the best pitchers in the business:
-Picture courtesy Thinkstock-
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