Over the years, as VCU Basketball has gained steam, so too have requests to have Rams throw out first pitches at baseball games. I’m still waiting on first puck drop calls. I know a spike is coming soon. Anyway, here we examine each Rams’ performance on the diamond.

Shaka Smart (Chicago Cubs, 2011)

Shaka Smart isn’t a large man by any means, but that didn’t stop guys like Billy Wagner from bringing the heat. Unfortunately for Smart, it kind of did. No matter, Smart has pretty good form here as he paints the inside corner. Good snap on the arm. I think he’s falling away to the left a bit, but that’s something the coaching staff can correct during side sessions.
Bonus/demerits: Bonuses for throwing from the rubber, throwing to a VCU guy (Sean Marshall), being at Wrigley Field, the custom jersey (is he wearing No. 91? Channeling Dennis Rodman?), and singing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.”

David Hinton, Darius Theus & Troy Daniels (Richmond Flying Squirrels, 2013)

Hinton: Okay, I’m not going to dock David points for throwing from the stretch. Some guys are just more comfortable there, even when nobody is on base. But seriously, what is that skyward pump-fake thing? Is T.J. Gwynn his pitching coach? However, good velocity. Good pop in the catcher’s mitt. The big man really gets on top of the baseball and fires it in there.
Bonus/demerits: Extra points for the custom jersey, demerits for throwing from in front of the mound.

Theus: Darius says he used to be a baseball player, but he’s no David Price. I like the windup, although he’s obviously rushing. Slow down, my man. Let’s pace ourselves and throw strikes. I can only assume Darius was worried about throwing a strike here because he really takes something off this ball. It flutters in there like a Mark Sanchez throwing a post pattern. Can’t play scared, D. Let it rip.
Bonus/demerits: Bonus for the custom jersey. Demerits for throwing in front of the mound.

Daniels: Troy was really a showman out there, with a couple of double-clutches and good stage presence. But what is with these guys going from the stretch? Is Parker the Rally Pig on first base? Somebody check and get back to me. Troy’s leg kick, if we’re going to call it a kick, was essentially the equivalent of John Goodman’s vertical leap. To his credit, Troy gets the ball there in the upper part of the zone – although, Clu Haywood probably mashes that ball.
Bonus/demerits: Points for the custom jersey. Gets dinged for throwing in front of the mound.

Brandon Rozzell (Richmond Flying Squirrels, 2011)

I like that Brandon got his own photo montage and theme music on the way to the mound. That’s big-league stuff. That’s when you know you’ve arrived on the celebrity first pitch scene. You think they roll out that kind of pomp and circumstance for Kent Bazemore? Of course not. Brandon rewards the Flying Squirrels’ with a reasonably smooth delivery.
Bonus/demerits: Points for the official team hat, throwing from the rubber and the showy entrance.

Larry Sanders (Richmond Flying Squirrels, 2010)

I know Larry didn’t grow up and athlete, which is now funny to think about, since he’s dunking in people’s grills in the NBA, but big man, I know you can do better. I can appreciate the showmanship, pretending to not be able to see the catcher from the mount. What I can’t appreciate is actually moving in 10 feet. Larry, your arms are 18 feet long, you can practically hand it to the catcher.
Bonus/demerits: Larry had a whole night named after him, that’s got to count for something. Other bonuses for the custom jersey and for wearing Chuck Taylors. Demerits for whatever is going on with those pants or shorts or jams or jorts or whatever they are.

Eric Maynor (Salt Lake City Bees, 2009)

eric-maynor-first-pitch

Sorry, but I couldn’t find video of Eric’s first pitch with the Salt Lake City Bees from his rookie year, but we do have a couple of photos to analyze. Obviously I don’t know if it’s a strike or not, but Eric appears to have sound mechanics. Good over-the-top delivery and pretty good elbow position. And he’s obviously kept in balance by the cell phone hanging out of his pocket and acting as a counterweight.
Bonus/demerits: Can we at least get Eric a t-shirt, Salt Lake City? Maybe an old Karl Malone or Mark Eaton jersey at least? Clean it up, Bees. Also, demerits for the cell phone clip. Bonus for actually throwing from the rubber.

Final ranking:
1-Shaka Smart
2-Eric Maynor
3-David Hinton
4-Brandon Rozzell
5-Troy Daniels
6-Darius Theus
7-Larry Sanders

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