Calling all knucklers, sidewinders and submariners [COLUMN]

Sidewinder pitchers, like Shelby County High's Cody Jones, highlight the balance between independence and teamwork found in baseball. (Contributed/TommieAnn Scott)

Sidewinder pitchers, like Shelby County High’s Cody Jones, highlight the balance between independence and teamwork found in baseball and softball. (Contributed/TommieAnn Scott)

By DREW GRANTHUM/Sports Writer

I was covering the Shelby County Wildcats baseball team a few weeks ago when I noticed something I haven’t seen at a high school game in a long, long, time: a sidewinder.

For those who aren’t as familiar with baseball terminology, no, I didn’t see a rattlesnake, I witnessed Cody Jones, the Wildcats’ pitcher, on the mound delivering the ball in a manner different than normally seen.

Jones, instead of coming over the top of his body to deliver the pitch, tossed the ball by slinging his arm in a whip-like motion parallel to the ground.

It’s unorthodox by some baseball aficionados’ standards, but I have always enjoyed watching how a sidearm pitcher delivers, and how batters try to pick up the ball coming at them from a different angle.

Look, I’m a fan of things that are just a little bit left of center. I’m not talking politics, mind you, I’m talking objects, places or people that stick out from the norm. I guess you’d say uniqueness is a trait I really admire.

Which is probably why I enjoy the diamond sports so much; they’re games that cater to eccentricies.

Think about it. What other game can boast of having a “left-handed specialist” as an official position?

None. In baseball (and softball too, come to think of it) it’s okay to march to a different drum, to be unique. In fact, it’s almost encouraged. There are countless windups, batting stances and fielding traits in the game. It’s one of the few places an athlete can be an individual and part of the team at the same time.

From sidearm, submarine and knuckleball pitchers to yoga pose-like batting stances, I can’t wait to get out and cover all of the intricacies and eccentricies of the upcoming baseball and softball seasons. We’ve got a ton of talent in each sport and boast a defending state champion in baseball and a defending runner-up in softball in Pelham High.

There are going to be a lot of storylines this year to follow, and I’m hoping you’ll join us in our coverage this year.
In the meantime, I’m going to try and figure out what exactly a “left-handed specialist” does.