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Next to him a car was gunning its engine—a sports car. What in the— Derek sat up in bed with a start. Wow, he thought as he let his heart calm down in the darkness of the bedroom. That was some dream. Across the room his sister, Sharlee, lay peacefully in her bed, softly snoring. Derek looked over at the alarm clock. It was just after five in the morning. Hearing the revving of a car motor, he realized that was what had woken him up.

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He went to the window. Sharlee and Derek were spending the summer with their grandparents in Greenwood Lake, New Jersey, just as they did every year. And like on every other day while they were there, Grandpa was already on his way to work. Six days a week, and half days on Sundays too. Grandpa always came home from work hungry and tired.

How Do Curveballs Change Direction in Midair?

So it was mostly Grandma who was able to spend time with the kids. She was the one in charge of the kids all day. She cooked for them, did the wash, cleaned the house, played with them, and tended to their cuts and bruises. The amazing part was, she almost always seemed to enjoy it. To Derek she had always been a kind of—well, not superhero, maybe, but superperson. He hoped that when he was a grown-up, everyone would love and respect him the way everyone in the family did Grandma.

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Derek looked out the open window. He could hear the crickets chirping. The sky was starting to get lighter. In fact, he felt restless. He and Sharlee had already been here a few days, but it had rained a ton. Right now everyone was still asleep. Derek got dressed quietly, washed up, and went down to the kitchen to make a bowl of cereal, and wait for Grandma to come downstairs. What had been so great about it was that he and his friend Dave had been playing for the Yankees—the real Yankees, including Mattingly, Randolph, Guidry, and especially Dave Winfield.

Winfield had been a great player for years, and Derek idolized him. Derek knew everything there was to know about Winfield. Not just because he was a great ballplayer, but also because he was a great person. Derek had considered writing about his mom or dad, or grandma or grandpa. But his teacher had told them all to look for role models outside the immediate family. So Derek had chosen Winfield, naturally. Derek hoped he could someday be like Winfield—except that he wanted to play shortstop for the Yankees, not right field.


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Derek felt deep inside that if he worked hard enough, and kept improving his game. Sure, everything was great here in New Jersey, as usual. But Derek had just come off a great season of playing baseball, with his dad as his coach.

And as much fun as he always had with his grandma and grandpa, there was no summer Little League here that he could be a part of. For him baseball was just a way to have fun. But he had enough athletic talent that he could go far in baseball, too.


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  • Dave was going to be coming to visit him here in New Jersey in three weeks. Derek was psyched just thinking about it. The two of them would also find time, he hoped, to play some mini-golf, or pitch and putt—maybe even go to a driving range.

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    Derek was sure he could persuade Grandma to take them. Best of all, Derek was looking forward to taking Dave to his first major-league baseball game—at Yankee Stadium! The whole family came along, including Grandma, aunts, uncles, and cousins—even the little kids. It was always a blast. They practically took up a whole section in the upper deck in right field.

    Or rather, with one of his two best friends. The other was Vijay Patel, but Vijay was in India for the whole summer with his family.

    Kluber throwing hitters for loop with curveball

    They were there to attend a family wedding. Grandma came into the kitchen just as Derek was finishing his cereal. Yes, I want some! Besides him and Sharlee, there were always other cousins staying at the house. ALDS schedule and coverage:: I just know it's nasty. Told of the ongoing confusion over Kluber's confounding pitch, the creator let out an amused laugh from his home in Skowhegan, Maine, a small town west of Bangor with a population of about 9, More than a decade ago, Garrett Quinn was the pitching coach for Stetson University, where a young Kluber arrived raw but full of potential.

    One of their first tasks was to fix the slow, loopy curveball that he used against high school players. He will be armed with a devastating curveball that has helped him develop into an AL Cy Young Award winner, ace and leader of the Majors' best rotation. When the pitch leaves Kluber's fingertips, it begins straight. The hitter's brain has a fraction of a second to process the information relayed by their eyes.

    Is it a cutter, four-seamer, two-seamer or is it that breaking ball? If the batter guesses wrong, there is not enough barrel on the bats that Quinn now produces for a living to catch up with the pitch as it sweeps away from the strike zone. What is Kluber's breaking ball? I used to tell people all the time, 'Let's forget the semantics and the "curveball" and "cutter" and "slider. Quinn laughs again as he recalls the first time Kluber rolled the ball in his hand, found the suggested grip and began testing out the pitch.

    There's a genetic aspect to what he does that you can't coach into pitchers. It took time for Kluber to fine-tune the offering into what hitters see now. It also took rearranging the rest of his repertoire to get the most out of his signature curve. In college and during his early days in the Minors, Kluber relied mostly on his four-seam fastball, which has a little natural cut to it. It was not until that the right-hander began working extensively on a two-seamer to create movement in the opposite direction.

    Once that became a regular part of his approach, Kluber could continue to hone his cutter and breaking ball to create not only varying degrees of break, but multiple tiers of velocity. For this season, Fangraphs has given Kluber's breaking ball a Dating to , its The MLB average against sliders and curves combined are. It was probably more of what my cutter is now," Kluber said.

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    It's just feel for me. I don't try to get too mechanical about it. Sabathia, Kluber to duel in Cleveland.