“Fastball” is an awesomely informative documentary that examines the relationship formed between a pitcher and a batter by way of the fastball. Even if you are already a big baseball fan, you will learn something from this documentary. Kevin Costner is a great choice for the narrator. His roles in “Field of Dreams,” “Bull Durham,” and “For the Love of the Game” have made his voice synonymous with baseball and the film just “feels” like baseball because of his narration. The documentary is split into different segments in order to cover pitchers from all generations and to show the evolution of pitching. Walter Johnson, Bob Feller, Nolan Ryan, and Aroldis Chapman were all the fastest pitchers of their individual era but who was the fastest pitcher of all time? This film does a side-by-side comparison of all four by making the proper adjustments for the different methods of recording the speed of each pitch and the results are fascinating. I loved the segment where a motorcycle raced one of Feller’s pitches and I was very interested to learn the legend of Steve Dalkowski. I never realized that a character in “Bull Durham” was based off of him but this epiphany will make that film even more meaningful. Perhaps the coolest part of the film is the slow motion countdown of 396 milliseconds as Andrew McCutchen calculates his swing against a fastball. Aside from Cutch being a great representative for hitters around the league, the science involved in this sequence is well-presented. I also appreciate the science-versus-psychology approach to the rising fastball. Physics states that a fastball cannot rise at the end of a pitch but the psychological experience of the batters keeps them convinced that the myth exists. These are only a few of the things that you might learn about from this documentary but, regardless of how much you enjoy baseball, “Fastball” is a great film for anybody who enjoys science, history, or sports.
[Pictured: The Andrew McCutchen/David Price slow motion countdown of the 396 milliseconds that occur during a fastball is incredible]