Fastball is the newest sports documentary from director Jonathan Hock, but don't confuse it with Knuckleball!, which was released in 2012. As it turns out, the films are as different as the pitches they are devoted to.
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KNUCKLEBALL! (release date: Sept. 18, 2012)
FASTBALL (release date: March 25, 2016)
None. Directors Ricki Stern and Annie Sundberg choose to tell the story through the practitioners of the knuckler, especially Tim Wakefield and R.A. Dickey.
Kevin Costner, star of three previous baseball movies, gives this film the same steady presence that Ray Kinsella gave Field of Dreams.
In addition to Wakefield and Dickey, Knuckleball! offers plenty of screen time to former knucklers like Charlie Hough, Wilbur Wood and Hall of Famer Phil Niekro.
All the great speed demons are highlighted, from Walter Johnson to Bob Feller to Nolan Ryan. One is conspicuously absent: Roger Clemens.
Aside from the reminder that the knuckleball is actually thrown with the fingernails, not the knuckles, there is very little explanation of what makes the pitch so baffling.
The film stands out when it examines past attempts to determine the fastest pitcher of all time and then uses modern standards to compare velocity across generations.
It celebrates the way the knuckleball can save a player's career, whether by making failed hitters into pitchers (Wakefield) or failing pitchers into successful pitchers (Dickey).
The closest this film comes to a heart-pulling segment is when discussing Steve Dalkowski, who may have been the fastest pitcher ever but never reached the majors.
THEY SAID IT
"I THINK I WAS MY WIFE'S SECOND CHOICE TOO."
New Rutgers men's basketball coach, when asked if he was bothered that the school approached Rhode Island's Dan Hurley first.
SIGN OF THE APOCALYPSE
Brewers reliever Will Smith tore the LCL in his right knee while taking off his shoe.
FILMBUFF/EVERETT COLLECTION (KNUCKLEBALL)
GRAVITAS VENTURES/EVERETT COLLECTION (FASTBALL)
JULIO CORTEZ/AP (PIKIELL)
MORRY GASH/AP (SMITH)