Dirk rooting for another Texas championship
Mavericks forward tosses out ceremonial first pitch before Game 3
ARLINGTON -- They hail from different parts of the world, play two strikingly different sports and are 11 inches apart in height.
But Dallas Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki and Texas Rangers infielder Michael Young have one very obvious thing in common: Both have been model citizens and star athletes while spending their entire playing careers in the Dallas/Fort Worth area.
Young is winding down his 12th season with the Rangers while making his second straight trip to the World Series; the German-born Nowitzki recently capped his 13th season with the Mavericks by winning his first NBA championship.
With the NBA still in the middle of a lockout, Nowitzki will sit back and root for Young's first title. The Mavericks superstar just started off Game 3 of the World Series by delivering the ceremonial first pitch to Young, but he didn't pass along the magic touch as the Rangers fell to the Cardinals, 16-7.
"We've been here for a long time, and he's trying to win the whole thing like I did, and finally I reached my dream," Nowitzki said. "Hopefully he can do the same this year. ... He's a great guy and he's the man, so hopefully he can come through and bring this city another championship."
After flinging the ball way over Young's head on June 25, Nowitzki did much better with his second chance at a first pitch on Saturday night -- standing on the rubber, coming from the stretch and firing a bullet that was just a tad low of the strike zone.
"My last one in July was a little high," said Nowitzki, dressed in a blue personalized Rangers jersey and matching cap. "This time they told me to throw a four-seam fastball. I still don't understand what that means, but I think that's the grip I had. Or was it a two-seam fastball? No, I forgot."
Nowitzki still isn't very good with all the technicalities of this game. You'd expect that from a man who grew up playing handball in Germany and has hardly thrown a baseball.
But Nowitzki does love the Rangers and says he watches them attentively.
"[I've] been following obviously the Rangers the last 13 years since I got here and grew to love the sport," Nowitzki said. "I support all the sports here. It's a great sports town. Obviously we have a lot of great teams."
Nowitzki's World Series first pitch was surrounded with a bit of controversy. On Wednesday, Nowitzki was told by the Rangers that he'd be doing it. But then he was reportedly denied after the club got word that Major League Baseball didn't approve him. Finally, he was told once again that he was allowed -- all in a matter of hours.
Nowitzki is still confused by the incident, and he called the explanation he got "wishy-washy."
"I wasn't really hurt or anything," Nowitzki said of temporarily being told he wasn't doing the first pitch. "I just wanted to be here and watch the game. Even if they wouldn't have let me pitch today, I probably would be here and support the boys."
Nowitzki isn't sure if he'll be able to also watch Games 4 and 5 in Texas, but he will definitely ask Nolan Ryan for tickets.
Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his columns and his blog, listen to his podcast and follow him on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.