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NFL stars' first pitches aren't always on target

NFL Network's Rich Eisen threw out the first pitch at Dodger Stadium on Sunday afternoon.

Things went smoothly, as this Vine tweeted out by the Dodgers proves. Bully for Rich, who ensured he won't appear on a blooper reel with Baba Booey any time soon.

Since you asked (no, you didn't), there are three keys to a truly successful first pitch:

1) Throw from the rubber: Unless you're a senior citizen or otherwise physically unable, get up on the hill. None of this pitching-from-in-front-of-the-mound garbage. Would you start "The Star-Spangled Banner" at "And the rocket's red glare?" Of course not. So why is it OK here?

2) Put some heat on it: Too often, you see supreme athletes go the lolly-pop route. Make no mistake: This is a decision bred out of fear of failure.You welcomed the moment, so own it. This throw also is known as The Revis (see below).

3) Reach the catcher: Fairly self explanatory. You don't want to bounce it, or roll it or Mariah it. Just get it there on a fly. That's all the crowd that's half paying attention wants.

Since you're barbecuing and I'm working on my computer, I decided to search YouTube for some first pitches from NFLers. Here are a few I found, in no particular order.


*Thrown from the rubber? No*
Heat on it? No
Reach the catcher? Yes


This one is pretty dreadful. How can the best cornerback on the planet throw like my Aunt Brenda? New York Jets fans felt a little better about the trade after this.

Grade: D


*Thrown from rubber? No*
Heat on it? (Hell) Yes
Reach the catcher? Yes


The Ol' Gunslinger just lets it rip here. We can even forgive him for not going off the mound (this probably is because he wanted to get back to his truck as soon as possible). If this was a movie, the old scout with the cigar in his mouth would look down at a radar gun that reads 99 and say, "I'll be damned."

Grade: A-


*Thrown from rubber? No*
Heat on it? No
Reach the catcher? Yes


Savvy move by Eli here. When you're holding your daughter in one arm, nobody is going to expect greatness. Actually, our favorite part of the video is Manning's laughable sales pitch written by a collaborative think-tank at Pampers Corp.

"Obviously, as an athlete I always want to be in the best gear. So, I want the same for my family. That's why I always have Ava in Pampers."

If you look close enough, you can see the reflection of the paycheck in Eli's eyes.

Pitch Grade: B
*Diaper Pitch Grade: C *


*Thrown from rubber? Yes*
Heat on it? Yes
Reach the catcher? Yes


Now this is how you do it. Coach toes the rubber, gives us a wind-up, puts something behind it and gets it to Yankees catcher Russell Martin on the fly. Coughlin also wore a glove, which is a level of committment you don't often see. The only thing keeping this from a perfect grade is pitch location.

Grade: A


*Thrown from rubber? Yes*
Heat on it? Yes
Reach the catcher? Yes


Romo hits everything on the checklist, but an active NFL quarterback works under a harsher grading curve. You gotta throw a strike there, Tony. Romo criticism is boundless.

Grade: B-


*Thrown from rubber? No*
Heat on it? No
Reach the catcher? No


A particularly egregious effort when you factor in that Robinson was a three-year starting quarterback for Michigan. In a related story, the fifth-round draft pick is being groomed for a non-QB role with the Jaguars.

This is maybe the Citizen Kane of bad NFL first pitches, and for that, Shoelace earns the Gentleman's F.

Grade: D-

Follow Dan Hanzus on Twitter @DanHanzus.

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