Roquan Smith is one of the best athletes on the planet. He knows it, because he has bet on himself for his entire career, and the result is that in his sixth NFL season, he will be the highest-paid off-ball linebacker in the league. He fills gaps, chases down running backs, causes turnovers, plays pass coverage, and blitzes. Smith is a five-tool football player. On a baseball diamond though, he is very much a civilian.
The Baltimore Ravens put together a video about Roquan Smith’s Sunday at Camden Yards to watch the Baltimore Orioles. It was a successful Sunday for the O’s who beat the Kansas City Royals 11-3, to move to 41-24 on the season. Smith looked like a ball player in his customized Orioles jersey, but not when he had to make a baseball play.
What the Ravens’ video doesn’t show is Smith throwing the first pitch at the game. They released a second video on Twitter which shows him throwing the ball poorly, but it doesn’t pan to the plate fast enough to see how the throw nearly ended up in the dugout.
WNST’s Luke Jones recorded Smith’s pitch and neither the word “way” nor “outside” comes close to describing how far away from average his attempt was. Not only did his pitch land outside of the batter’s box but Smith failed at what everyone in his position tries to do, avoid bouncing the ball. It looked like he was skipping a rock.
Somewhere 50 Cent is telling anyone who will listen that even though he missed all of the sand surrounding home plate, his pitch really wasn’t that bad. After a three-minute search on YouTube, the only worse first pitch I found from a professional athlete was John Wall. He basically spiked the baseball like an end-zone celebration.
Fortunately for the Ravens, they didn’t sign Smith to a five-year, $100 million contract for his throwing accuracy. That’s what Lamar Jackson is for — and he threw a dart on his attempt at a first pitch. Smith is employed to punish ball carriers and to keep the Ravens from getting carved up on short and intermediate passes.
He did that quite well last season. Well enough to set a new benchmark for salary at his position, but not so well that he is immune from teasing for his pitch on Sunday. Prime Ray Lewis would not have deserved a pass for throwing a ball that poorly. Smith will probably catch some grief in the locker room during minicamp later this week.
Then he’ll get out on the field, leap a large human being in a single bound to make a play, and all will be forgotten.