The story from a few days back about the switch-pitcher, Pat Venditte facing a switch-hitter, has naturally lent itself to all sorts of crackpot thinking.
The clip of the gamesmanship that went on between Venditte, a Yankees farmhand and Ralph Henriquez, from a game last month, really has to be watched to be fully appreciated. The story, which went out on the Associated Press wire, was largely treated as a one-off -- that only-in-the-minors story that gets e-mailed around among friends and is quickly forgotten.
What if there's something more to this than Venditte and his father, Pat Sr., trying to find an inroad into major-league baseball, the same way Tim Wakefield did when he became a knuckleball pitcher in the early '90s.
There's an article up about Venditte at MiLB.com that details how a guru named Michael (Hammerman) Lavery from Southern California (where else?) is promoting the concept of Whole Brain Power, which uses a series of exercises to stimulate each side of the brain (the logical/linear left side and the creative right side) and promote ambidexterity.
Lavery, an artist whose bio says he had a cup of coffee as a catcher in the Blue Jays farm system, has taught himself to be ambidextrous -- and he believes that in future generations, we could see all sorts of ambidextrous athletes -- baseball pitchers, tennis players, golfers, you name it. The MILB.com article says he speaks with "messianic zeal when it comes to the effects that widespread ambidexterity could have in the world of sports." As you can see below, he comes off as a bit, uh, idiosyncratic, but what if he's on to something?
Of course, one person's messianic zeal is another's nuttier than a pecan log. That can't be stressed enough. Who knows, maybe the above clip would leave the neuroscience community in fits of laughter -- can't you just see a bunch of scholarly types in white coats and sensible shoes rolling on the floor right now?
Regardless, it is common knowledge that being left-handed is somewhat learned behaviour (most lefties were somewhat fluid in childhood before choosing the path that doomed them to a lifetime of messy handwriting and difficulty with handling a stick shift). Activities such as sport stacking can help develop ambidextry. Believing Lavery might be along the same lines as the junk thinking which has caused millions of people in North America to believe in intelligent design.
Reason and caution doesn't stand a chance against a sports geek's ental Wikipedia entry of ambidextrous athletes: Greg Harris, the Expos relief pitcher, used both hands during a game in 1995. In the early '90s, there was a quarterback at the University of Arizona, George Malauulu, who could throw with either hand. Gordie Howe could shoot from either side, and in the 1940s the NHL had an ambidextrous goalie, Bill Durnan, who's in the Hockey Hall of Fame. It wasn't so long ago that lefties were forced to "go right," and as we move into a more post-industrial age, people are performing fewer tasks which have to be done right-handed.
Gender is somewhat socialized, why couldn't it be similar for your dominant hand(s)? There's a little bit of that Fox Mulder I-want-to-believe element here, even if it is completely crackers.
(Incidentally, this can be spun into another item in the people's case vs. J.P. Ricciardi. How could he not have signed Venditte, whose college team is called the Bluejays? Think about the synergy!