Breaking down Tracy McGrady’s Professional Pitching Debut

As noted on Monday former NBA star Tracy McGrady took the mound for his regular season professional baseball debut last Saturday for the Sugar Land Skeeters.         

While McGrady’s pitching line of 1 2/3 innings, 35 pitches (18 strikes/17 balls), 2 earned runs, 2 walks and a home run by Somerset Patriots shortstop Edwin Maysonet certainly does not sound like a Hall of Fame effort at first glance it is certainly notable in so much as it is not every day that someone goes pro in a second sport.

McGrady earned two NBA scoring titles and seven All-Star Game appearances during his first professional sports career.

Tracy McGrady made his professional baseball debut last Saturday for the Sugar Land Skeeters. Photo R. Anderson

Tracy McGrady made his professional baseball debut last Saturday for the Sugar Land Skeeters.
Photo R. Anderson

While McGrady spent 16 years in the NBA honing his basketball skills, the 34-year-old had not played organized baseball since high school.

Prior to Saturday’s game McGrady had just one inning of spring training work against Alvin Community College under his belt so he is obviously still green when it comes to baseball.

Speaking of green the Skeeters very well could be sitting on a promotional gold mine based on the sellout crowd on hand to watch the 1 2/3 innings of work.

Granted many of the fans arrived after McGrady’s debut had ended but if his outings get longer or the fans arrive earlier it very well could be win-win for all involved.

While I am not saying that the McGrady experiment is solely a money making promotional gimmick it is hard to forget that a 50-year-old Roger Clemens was sent to the mound in the team’s first season to drum up awareness of the new kid in town.

While many could question the long-term feasibility of McGrady as a pitcher, Sugar Land Skeeters manager Gary Gaetti stated in a post-game interview that he was sticking with McGrady as a starting pitcher.

Former Houston Astro turned Somerset Patriots shortstop Edwin Maysonet  (#12) collects his bat after rounding the bases on a foul pole rattling home run given up by Tracy McGrady Saturday night as Koby Clemens and the Skeeters dugout look on. Photo R. Anderson

Former Houston Astro turned Somerset Patriots shortstop Edwin Maysonet (#12) collects his bat after rounding the bases on a foul pole rattling home run given up by Tracy McGrady Saturday night as Koby Clemens and the Skeeters dugout look on.
Photo R. Anderson

Of course most managers prefer their starters to go until at least the sixth inning before making the call to the bullpen so clearly there is some work to be done there in terms of increasing McGrady’s pitch count while increasing his results.

Time will tell if he makes as big of an impact on the baseball scene once he works out some issues with his mechanics.

Personally I would love to see McGrady succeed in his professional baseball career.

While not all of us our multimillionaire former NBA stars with high name recognition, we all have dreams beyond our current jobs or other situations in life.

And if a 34-year-old retiree can chase his dreams it brings hope for the rest of us in terms of finding that next chapter to get out of whatever rut we find ourselves in.

The team has not yet announced McGrady’s next start but I am fairly certain that they will try to tweak the rotation to ensure that all of his starts occur during home games to help maximize the crowds and the aforementioned green.

It is even highly possible that McGrady has contract language similar to what Roger Clemens had with the Astros where he does not even travel with the team on road trips.

Tracy McGrady’s pitching line from his professional baseball debut is 1 2/3 innings, 35 pitches (18 strikes/17 balls), 2 earned runs, 2 walks and a home run.  Photo R. Anderson

Tracy McGrady’s pitching line from his professional baseball debut is 1 2/3 innings, 35 pitches (18 strikes/17 balls), 2 earned runs, 2 walks and a home run.
Photo R. Anderson

While I do not know if that is the case I would certainly hope that McGrady is traveling with the team and getting the full Minor League Baseball experience. Taking the bus rides alongside his teammates would certainly be a good team bonding experience and just might make them run after his wild pitches and other miscues on the mound a little bit faster.

And while giving up a home run in your professional debut is certainly not something that any pitcher wants to do McGrady can take solace in the fact that the foul pole hitting shot came off of a former Major Leaguer instead of a college kid during spring training.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I am going to go work on my curve ball in case the Skeeters need a thirty something left handed specialist to come in and mop up in the late innings.

Copyright 2014 R. Anderson