— NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) May 12, 2018
Shaquille O’Neal took batting practice in Miami and his swing is something else. It’s got me thinking about how I would strike out the NBA Hall of Famer.
Shaquille O’Neal isn’t the next great right-handed power hitter. His swing is pretty, pretty, pretty ugly. The back elbow is way down and he’s got no balance up there at the plate. That being said he makes contact a few times so he’s clearly still got the hand-eye coordination.
I never really pitched when I played baseball growing up, but I’m pretty sure I could strike out Shaq right now. If I ever had a Kenny Powers-Reg Mackworthy style showdown with Shaq I’m pretty sure this is how it would go.
I don’t think he can get to that high fastball so first pitch I’m throwing one high. He manages to foul it off—strike one.
No need to get cute here. I don’t think his hands are quick enough to get around on that inside fastball anymore. I’m throwing one inside and just off the plate. But I’m underestimating Shaq’s plate discipline and he lays off the pitch—ball one.
Big pitch coming up here. Everyone knows there’s a huge difference between a 2-1 count and a 1-2 count. He’s seen two fastballs so it’s time to get the big fella off balance with some off-speed stuff. I throw a changeup low and away and he chases—strike two.
I’ve got him right where I want him now. Why not throw the same pitch in the same spot? I can try and get him to chase again. This time he lays off one that was awfully close to a strike—ball two.
Now that I’ve got him looking for the changeup, it’s time to come back upstairs with a fastball. The ball gets away from me on this one and comes up and in on Shaq. I don’t hit him, but it’s close enough to knock him down. Needless to say, this is ball three and the count is full.
Shaq hops up like he’s a younger man and takes a couple steps towards the mound with pure anger in his eyes. I take a few steps towards the plate and get ready to take my glove off and scrap with O’Neal, but he sees the 5-foot-9 wiry frame of the man on the mound and he wisely rethinks his decision.
He steps back into the box and I toe the rubber. Tensions are running high. My catcher signals for changeup low and away. I shake him off. I want the fastball. Shaq pounds the plate with his bat one last time and gets into his stance. I throw this one up and in again, but this time it’s well within the strike zone. He can’t get on top of it and I strike out Shaq.