The baseball gods were not shining down upon the rap artist known as 50 Cent on Tuesday afternoon when he delivered the ceremonial first pitch at Citi Field prior to the Mets versus Pirates game. What was meant to be a moment when the rapper, famous for songs like Candy Shop and In Da Club was to show off his cannon of an arm, it all crumbled when his pitch sailed just a tad outside of the strike zone.
Curtis Jackson, known to the music world as 50 Cent, delivered what some are saying is the worst opening pitch in the history of baseball. While crowning him with the title of “The Worst” may be a tad melodramatic, there is no question that his pitching mechanics need some work. Decked out in a New York Mets hat and game jersey, the 38-year-old southpaw native of Queens, New York wound up and fired a sub-50 mph heater about 12 feet outside. Some can only speculate that the heavy weight from his watch that glittered with diamonds must have weighed him down, or at the very least, it must have thrown him off balance.
What was supposed to be a momentous occasion for the Get Rich or Die Tryin’ rapper and actor, quickly turned into a slam fest, in which everyone in the sports world all of a sudden turned into an amateur pitching coach. He opened up too early, he dropped his shoulder, he palmed the ball were all mentioned in the constructive criticisms from pundits. However, what most have failed to mention is how 50 Cent was completely showed up by an extinct dinosaur earlier this month in San Diego. Prior to the May 7 game between the San Diego Padres and the Kansas City Royals, the baby T-Rex strutted its way to the pitching mound, and with the grace of an animal that has been extinct for millions of years, it wound up and delivered a pitch that was slightly down and away. It was not perfect, but it was a valiant effort by the Jurassic Park superstar. 50 Cent on the other hand, delivered his ceremonial first pitch with mechanics as stiff as a dead squirrel, suffering from the final stages of rigamortis.
Jackson, in his earlier days, competed in the Junior Olympics as an amateur boxer, yet somehow his athletic prowess failed to transfer to the diamond. Too much time throwing punches, as opposed to throwing baseballs must have derailed his pitching career long before it started. However, things worked out just fine for the rap artist, other than being shot nine times with a 9mm handgun on May 24, 2000. Following the attack, 50 Cent went on to release his album, Guess Who’s Back? in 2002, and was later discovered by rapper, Eminem. His boxing career may have fizzled, but the boxer turned music man went on to sell more than 30 million records, and was named the sixth most successful artist of the 2000’s by Billboard Magazine.
From Presidents to rock stars, and dinosaurs to 50 Cent, the ceremonial first pitch has always kept baseball fans on their toes. Once the game begins, fans can count on balls and strikes, hits and outs, but with the opening pitch, anything can happen. From former Cincinnati mayor, Mark Mallory to high-heeled Mariah Carey, the ceremonial first pitch will always provide fans with the unexpected. On this day in late May, 50 Cent, known to the living world for his catchy hooks in songs like In Da Club strutted to the mound and delivered a pitch that should land him in the hall of fame alongside some of the worst ceremonial opening pitchers of all-time. Perhaps he can self-star in an upcoming sequel to the ’69 “Amazin’ Mets” and title the film, “The Amazingly Bad Met: The True Saga of One of the Worst Opening Pitches Ever.” Until then, he may want to pick up a rock, an orange, a ball, or anything somewhat round-shaped and work on his control issues.
Commentary by Johnny Caito