The Mockingbird

The Magic Cut Shuuto Japanese Miracle Pitch (シュート)

with 13 comments

Some time ago, I wrote a post poking fun at the many faces and excessive love for the Gyroball. Since then, the pitch has largely vanished from the public eye- although there is still the occasional new article written about it, the tone is now one normally reserved for Bigfoot updates: “is it a stupid hoax or an amazing phenomenon- only you can decide!!!” Even Matsuzaka himself has admitted what has been increasingly obvious- that he doesn’t throw one, never has, and has only been coy because why the heck would he go out of his way to vaporize free mystique.

So why all the excitement without a shred of real evidence? Because breaking balls are like magic to fans. Even though the fastball always has been and always will be the best pitch in baseball, making the ball move after it has left your hand is just freaking COOL. The first time I saw a ball really curve is burnt into my memory as deeply as the first time I saw a naked lady- and the effort I went to reproduce the experience, neglecting all other pursuits and practices; devoting every free evening to straining the cartilage of my teenage wrist, was almost as quixotic and ultimately destructive. The same effect occurs with the knuckleball- people who throw them never have winning records, but some kid in the minors trots one out and two days later there’s a fleet of reporters following him around.

I bring this up because I have discovered a new phenomenon clearly ready to take the place of the sadly debunked Gyroball. When someone comes to this page from a search engine, I get to see what they were searching for in the first place. Over the last month, the overwhelming favorite search term is some variant of how to throw the “Shuuto” (the “cut shuuto” – a pitch that would have to move in two different directions at once, is very popular as well…the only other oft-repeated phrases are “japanese miracle pitch” and “matsuzaka magic pitch”).

So what’s a Shuuto, you all apparently want to know? Well, it’s the pitch that Will Carroll famously mistook for a Gyroball, it does actually exist, and Matsuzaka does actually throw it. It has the same type of movement as a screwball (breaking back towards right handed hitters when thrown by a right-hander), but it’s faster and breaks less. In other words, it’s the two-seam fastball that Greg Maddux has been throwing for his entire career. But it’s great that people have moved on to this kind of wrinkle pitch rather than staying obsessed with the 5 foot break fantasy of the Gyro. Because while a good two-seamer might not be sexy, it’s the real magic secret for how to get today’s juiced-up, home-run-hitting behemoths out: throw something that really looks like a fastball but stays low and does something awkward at the last minute. So for all you eager beaver little leaguers searching for the next big thing to propel yourself over Joey Freshman for the last starting spot, here’s the magic key to success: put your fingers along the seams, throw really hard, and when the press conferences start to pour in, play dumb.





Written by halejon

March 28, 2007 at 5:40 am

13 Responses

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  1. Wait a minute – is your simulated pitch model even wearing a shirt? I see a cap, but no shirt. That MUST be the secret of the mythical “cut shuuto”.

    Time for a Press Conference! I’m going to the show on guile alone.


    March 28, 2007 at 3:55 pm

  2. I thought you knew- in Japan they play baseball (like the Greeks did the Olympics) in the nude…


    March 28, 2007 at 4:12 pm

  3. Speaking of Greeks – Did you know, that the season always looks more promising when you add ‘Power Chords’?

    Really, nothing is quite as sweet as a walk-off against Mariano Rivera.


    March 28, 2007 at 4:14 pm

  4. If that is the Jay’s theme song this year, I’m going to start cheering for Syracuse instead (and why not! Their pitching staff is almost as good as ours!).

    Now Tampa Bay, they have the tuneZ:


    March 28, 2007 at 7:44 pm

  5. Haha – those inflateable suits are always good for a laff.


    March 28, 2007 at 9:54 pm

  6. That little guy won best mascot for 2006 (hence he is now dead to Stephen Colbert…) That’s not the best clip of him though.

    Hey, do we still have those losers Ace and Diamond? Sigh…wonder what ol’ B.J. Birdy is up to these days…


    March 28, 2007 at 10:09 pm

  7. Haha. You know the story of Ace, Diamond and the demise of the legendary BJ Birdy.

    Well, we currently only have Ace – Diamond only lasted a season or two and was cut due to lack of popularity.

    BJ was fired because the actual guy in the costume created the bird the owned rights to all the BJ Birdy everything – and the Jays in 1999, who wanted a piece of the the merch action, fired him. I bet its all on wikipedia or the web somewhere:

    Well, it doesn’t explicitly mention the reasons – but you can read between the lines.


    March 29, 2007 at 5:14 am

  8. Sweet…so now there’s a dedicated shuuto site for all these rabid shuuto fans. There’s a good link on there to Will Carroll’s official retraction.

    Yikes…I don’t know about this:

    “the shuuto, which essentially is Japan’s improved version of that two-seam fastball Greg Maddux starts at the hip of left-handed hitters and runs back over the inside corner.”

    First, nobody IMPROVES on Maddux’s Two-seamer…and second Japanese sluggers come here and can’t hit for two months because everyone throws them instead of the Shuuto.


    March 29, 2007 at 3:04 pm

  9. Kudos on the reference. It appears that blog is currently devoted to your facinating review of the shuuto – for all the wrong reasons. Hilarious.

    But I suspect you may have some other readers:


    “In other words, it’s the two-seam fastball that Greg Maddux has been throwing for his entire career.”

    Tom Verducci:

    “the shuuto, which essentially is Japan’s improved version of that two-seam fastball Greg Maddux starts at the hip of left-handed hitters and runs back over the inside corner.”

    But super Greg Maddux pitch – I think not. If that was true, you think Okha might be challenging Doc for #1, rather then squeeking into #4-5.


    March 29, 2007 at 8:19 pm

  10. okay in the picture he is throwing a gyroball and it does exist . The shuuto is a pitch too and the gyroball isnt supposed to break five feet. its actually supposed to stay still. Even with out the break someone cant see the seams which makes it hard to judge the speed of the ball. Just seeing a ball spin like that would make a batter go crazy any way


    April 7, 2007 at 2:15 am

  11. But you don’t need to see the seams to judge speed- just what spin is on the ball and therefore how it’s going to break. If the pitch doesn’t do anything in particular, I think that particular effect (of “bullet spin”) would confuse a major league hitter maybe once. As I mentioned in “The Magic Bullet“, Tezuka was saying for a while that the four-seam gyroball was faster than a normal fastball, but that claim has died out.

    The Gyroball is theoretically possible, but totally unimpressive ever since it lost the five-foot break highly touted by Will Carroll, SI, and a billion other media outlets- which is probably why nobody really throws it. The Shuuto on the other hand is thrown by just about every Japanese pitcher and is a very similar to a two-seamer.


    April 7, 2007 at 3:23 am

  12. i just want to know if any one has thrown this and if the instructions given work
    not saying that who ever set this up is trying to mess with us


    June 13, 2009 at 2:15 am

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