A minor controversy was avoided this week, when Major League Baseball decided to allow Dallas Mavericks All-Star forward Dirk Nowitzki to throw out the first pitch before Game 3 of the World Series between the Texas Rangers and St. Louis Cardinals.
Nowitzki, the reigning NBA Finals MVP, is at the height of his popularity after leading the Mavericks to a stunning triumph over the Miami Heat. He was nominated by the Rangers to throw out the first pitch at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, near Dallas, but that nomination was reportedly rejected before MLB later overturned their decision.
On Saturday evening, Nowitzki strode to the mound wearing a blue custom Rangers jersey bearing his name and jersey No. 41 and a blue Rangers hat. He stared in to get the sign, went into a full wind-up and leg-kick, and then bounced his pitch into home plate, before receiving congratulations from Rangers designated hitter Michael Young. A well-intentioned effort, to be sure, but his pitching mechanics simply can't compare to the form on his trademark fallaway jumper.
"I looked him off twice, spat, spat; I had to spit," Nowitzki explained, according to ESPNDallas.com.Prior to the game, Nowitzki wrote on Twitter: "Fired up for tonight. Already warmin up in my backyard. Radar gun gonna read mid 80s. Let's do this. Go Rangers." Fox broadcaster Joe Buck said Nowitzki's pitch was clocked at 67 miles per hour.
Entering Game 3, the World Series was tied at 1-game apiece.
Here's a frame-by-frame look at Nowitzki's pitching motion, in case you're interested. Images via Fox Sports.