say for fastball pitchers, it more about movement and location then velocity,
unless they can hurl it over 100 mph. In that case, it really is about
velocity. Some of the game’s best power pitchers and power hitters explain what
it is like to be on either side of the high heat in Jonathan Hock’s enormously
entertaining Fastball, which screens
during the 2015 Tribeca Film Festival.
it is almost impossible to compare pitchers from different eras, but Hock and
his on-screen experts will develop a methodology to do just that. Hock surveys
the game-changingest fastball pitchers throughout baseball history, starting
with Walter Johnson’s celebrated 122 feet per second fastball, segueing into
Bob Feller’s still impressive 98.6 mph benchmark. Yankee fans will be delighted
to see Goose Gossage get ample screen time, but will be baffled by the absence
of Mariano Rivera (what, the cutter doesn’t count?). Still, future Hall of
Famer Derek Jeter turns up as consolation (presumably he is like Martin Scorsese
in classic cinema docs, if you can get him, you find a place for him).
fans from every city might wonder why their respective teams are not better
represented, but nobody will question the time spent with Bob Gibson and Nolan
Ryan. There are even more Hall of Famers represented on the hitters’ side of
the equation, including George Brett (yes, the pine tar incident is revisited),
Hank Aaron, and Al Kaline. Some fans might find it rather bittersweet seeing
the recently passed Ernie Banks and Tony Gwynn adding even more class to the
are a lot of laugh-out-loud stories in Fastball,
but there is also a lot of nostalgia. In fact, the film becomes unapologetically
sentimental and empathetic when chronically the story of Steve Dalkowski, the
almost Major Leaguer who partly inspired the film Bull Durham. It is a tough game sometimes.
Hock even incorporates lessons in physics and physiology into the film that
really heighten our appreciation of fastball pitching (and hitting). The manner
in which the documentary breaks down and adjusts fastball measurement over time
might sound a little geeky, but it is totally perfect for such a wonky, numbers-obsessed sport. To Hock’s credit, Fastball
is willing to make the call as to which pitcher really was the fastest, without
any hedging or second-guessing, so there is even some suspense built in.
Throughout the film, Hock always hits the right
notes and Kevin Costner’s narration is the perfect finishing touch. If you are
a baseball fan, Fastball will bring
make fond memories of the game and if you do not follow the boys of summer, you
can still enjoy the anecdotes. Highly recommended, Fastball screens again this Saturday (4/25) and Sunday (4/26), as
part of this year’s Tribeca Film Festival.
Labels: Baseball, Documentary, Tribeca '15