Paul Goldschmidt Down Under

Ryan Pierse

The 2013 season may barely be over, but Paul Goldschmidt is already getting his reps in for 2014. Today - which is already Monday in Australia - saw him get a feel for the Sydney Cricket Ground, where the DIamondbacks will open their campaign against the Dodgers next March.

The session kicks off a promotional tour which sees our Gold Glove, likely Silver Slugger, and Hank Aaron award-winning first baseman in Australia, to promote next year's Opening Day series between the Diamondbacks and Dodgers. He'll be taking part, along with a number of local pro cricketers from the Sydney Sixers team, to see if one of them can break the Guinness World Record for distance hitting, set by Pakistan's Shahid Afridi in March. In cricket, the equivalent of a home-run - hitting the ball clear over the fence without it bouncing - is called "hitting a six," because it counts as six runs. As shown below, Afridi clubbed it about 518 feet to establish the mark.

Even getting close to that will present a significant challenge for Goldschmidt, because his career longest home-run, according to OnlineHitTracker..com, was the 452-foot blast below, off Randy Wolf in May last year. He has had a number of others there or thereabout, but that would still leave him needing to find another 70 feet to set a new record. He won't get addtional help from the incoming velocity either. Despite the radical differences in style - cricketers get a run-up, but can't get extra velocity by unbending their elbows during delivery - the fastest bowlers (equivalent to the pitchers) top out at about the same 100 mph as baseball players.


Adding to the degree of difficulty, I would presume that Goldschmidt will also have to adjust to the cricket style of pitching, where the ball generally bounces on the ground between the bowler and batter, so is generally hit from an upward trajectory, as opposed to baseball, where the ball is usually descending, with the odd submarine pitcher excepted. There's also the movement off the pitch to be read. Maybe he should call former team-mates Justin Upton and Chris Young for help: they took on cricket at the behest of ESPN in 2011, which left the latter saying, "I definitely gained an appreciation for the sport."


Local player Steve Smith admitted he hadn't heard of Goldschmidt previously, but was looking forward to taking on one of baseball's best hitters, on Smith's home-turf. He said, "Sounds like fun, doesn't it? I'm certainly not the biggest hitter here at NSW, I think that honor belongs to Shane Watson, but it will certainly be fun having a crack. It should make for an interesting morning. I can't wait to see how he hits it." I'm hoping Goldschmidt does - or, at least, comes through the experience with all of his limbs intact!

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