My following of Major League Baseball and professional sports in
general sort of faded when big time money entered the arena. Having
played Little League and Babe Ruth Ball, I'll still occasionally check
the standings, but would be hard pressed to name the winner of the last
World Series. So my interest in checking out this documentary had more
to do with the science and mechanics of fastball pitching, and on that
score I think it delivers pretty well.
Over the span of baseball eras, it's still an open question of who the fastest pitcher ever might have been, and it's likely that it will remain so. The earliest attempt to record pitching speed goes back to 1912 when Walter Johnson threw into a wired contraption that set off a timer; his throw clocked at one hundred twenty two feet per second, or in present day language, about eighty three point two miles per hour. That doesn't sound very fast by today's standards, but a modern day calculation demonstrated in the documentary upped that number considerably.
One humorous attempt to demonstrate Bob Feller's pitching speed involved a competition against a motorcycle. Feller beat the guy on the bike handily, and it was neat to see the former great explaining some pitching methodology to a youngster. The invention of the radar gun brought scientific measurement of pitching speed into the modern age in the Seventies, and a number of present day, active and retired big leaguers were interviewed on the mechanics and intimidation factor involved in pitching against competent hitters.
To give one an idea how out of touch I am with the Big League scene, I didn't even recognize names like Aroldis Chapman or Craig Gimbrel, my baseball era would have included guys like Koufax and Gibson, both of whom are also featured here. There's a brief aside on 'the fastest who never was', pitcher Steve Dalkowski, who's control was next to negligible but who had a fearsome reputation with a few of the guest interviewees like Al Kaline and Hank Aaron. That's Dalkowski's quote in my summary line above, a bit ironic and sad actually. He appeared in the film as well, looking defeated by life for having missed out on his life's passion.
They call baseball a game of inches, and in the case of professional pitchers, those inches can add up when you're talking the difference between a ninety two and a hundred mile per hour fastball. That difference is demonstrated graphically, along with a myriad number of insights into such areas as trajectories, magnus forces and speed. It might be a bit much for the casual viewer to follow, but anyone with a keen interest in the science of fastball pitching will find it all fascinating. Even pitchers seem to be in awe of the science, case in point one Dave Price who can tell you with exact precision the time he threw a hundred mile per hour fastball - in a 2010 game against Detroit against Johnny Peralta. Talk about a lasting impression!
Action / Documentary
Action / Documentary
The essence of baseball is the primal battle between the pitcher and batter, but the magic of the game arises from that confrontation, only 396 milliseconds in the making. The mysteries and memories of Baseball's greatest heroes are revealed in FASTBALL, featuring interviews with dozens of former players, from legendary Hall of Famers to up-and-coming All-Stars, including HANK AARON, NOLAN RYAN, & DEREK JETER, and narrated by KEVIN COSTNER. Based on the original idea by the film's producer, Thomas Tull ("Dark Knight") who also produced the Jackie Robinson biopic "42," FASTBALL is peppered with archival footage of baseball's greatest moments plus original high-speed 4K footage and motion graphics that unlock the secrets hidden within a ball traveling over 100 mph. While players, historians, and scientists might disagree on who was actually the fastest pitcher in history - and yes, the film does the physics and concludes with a clear verdict - FASTBALL tells the story of the game itself.
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June 20, 2016 at 11:54 AM