The Physics Of Baseball Pitches


It’s Summer, and you know what that means!
Manipulating the spin and speed of a flying sphere to change its velocity and elude a
Homo sapien swinging a third class lever! Also known as baseball season. Hello fans of sport and physics alike, Julian
here for DNews. Baseball is often called America’s Past Time, and it’s mostly known for being
a relaxed-paced game that goes great with beer and hot dogs. You know what else goes
with baseball? Science, that’s what. Of course any physical activity is going to
have some physics behind it, and one of the more nuanced aspects of baseball to a non-fan
is the physics of different pitches. Justin Allegri, broadcaster for the San Jose
Giants, explains there’s a lot more to a pitch than just rocketing the ball over the
plate. By changing the grip, pressure, and release of the ball, the pitcher can alter
its flight path and make the batter’s life miserable. The most well known pitch is the fastball,
but there are different variations on the theme. The most direct one is a 4 seam fastball,
where the fingers are placed across 4 seams. On release the pitcher imparts backspin on
the ball. The result is the ball doesn’t drop as much as it would otherwise, appearing
to fight gravity and travel in more of a straight line. The pitcher is taking advantage of the Magnus
effect, which is when a spinning sphere affects the air pressure around it, much like an airplane
wing. The side of the ball spinning with the direction of travel is essentially moving
against the air faster, creating more drag, creating more pressure, and causing the air
to push on it. On the opposite side of the ball, air pressure is reduced and the ball
travels more easily in that direction. You see it in other ball sports too like in
Soccer, or yes, Football, I know, rest of the world, you don’t have to keep reminding
us. Curve balls take advantage of the Magnus effect more, but instead of stabilizing the
flight into a straight line the topspin causes is to drop and cut. Different grips and releases
open up more possibilities like sinkers, sliders, screwballs, and changeups, but they’re all
essentially doing the same thing; causing the seams to push air around and change the
pressure on the ball. The exception to the rule is the knuckleball. A Knuckleball is
designed to spin only once on it’s flight, Moving through the air this way causes a Kármán
Vortex Street, which is a string of vortices trailing alternating sides of the ball. The
effect is the ball wobbles from side to side and its flight becomes impossible to predict.
Clearly the seams play a huge role in affecting the flight of the ball. The seams on balls
the pros use are smoother than those used by college players, to give them less of an
advantage and grip. The lowered seams also give the batter an advantage; because of the
reduced drag a batter will hit the smoother baseball farther. You’ll also notice balls
that get hit into the dirt and scuffed are tossed out by the umpires, because a skilled
pitcher can use the scuff to their advantage. Baseball pitches, are great examples of people
innovating and getting creative to elevate their game. Speaking of insane augmentations,
Toyota has been doing some tinkering of their own with the TRD line of Toyota Trucks. Enhanced
to rule the off-road!

100 thoughts on “The Physics Of Baseball Pitches

  • June 29, 2015 at 3:12 pm
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    David price TB Rays Yeaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa

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  • June 29, 2015 at 3:42 pm
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    Toyota TRD? Like turd?

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  • June 29, 2015 at 5:33 pm
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    Next do a video on the chemistry behind that lovely double whopper from burger king. The raw taste of a grilled 100% beef patty, mmmmmmmm!

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  • June 29, 2015 at 5:56 pm
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    as a former semi-pro pitcher I approve of this video.

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  • June 29, 2015 at 7:13 pm
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    hahaha Toyota plug so so random!

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  • June 29, 2015 at 9:08 pm
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    Physics behind cricket

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  • June 29, 2015 at 9:31 pm
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    What about tennis serves, or in general, the physics behind different tennis swings?

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  • June 30, 2015 at 1:03 am
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    product placement??

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  • June 30, 2015 at 3:10 am
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    How about the physics behind being able to jump high enough to dunk a basketball?

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  • June 30, 2015 at 4:16 am
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    I love throwing knuckle balls

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  • June 30, 2015 at 11:21 am
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    i first thought that the title was: The Physics Of Baseball Bitches!

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  • June 30, 2015 at 12:44 pm
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    diamond no ace fans here!??

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  • July 1, 2015 at 1:13 pm
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    lacrosse physics looks interesting

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  • July 1, 2015 at 4:04 pm
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    Greatest sport in the world.

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  • July 3, 2015 at 2:17 am
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    Do fencing!

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  • July 3, 2015 at 5:54 pm
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    Because Toyota has a lot to do with baseball..?

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  • July 5, 2015 at 9:32 pm
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    Amazing how they couldn't provide us with a SINGLE showing of the pitch travelling to the plate during a game. You mean it's all a bunch of baloney and no one can admit it? Try guessing what the pitch is right after it's thrown and then compare what the "broadcasters" have to say. What a load!

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  • July 6, 2015 at 6:13 am
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    This guy never gets laid.

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  • July 10, 2015 at 5:35 pm
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    Being a baseball fan, I can appreciate this. However, the curveball should have been mentioned. And furthermore, I recommend checking out a video about the gyroball.

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  • July 16, 2015 at 5:12 pm
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    That Toyota add was pretty random.. lol 😀

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  • July 22, 2015 at 6:59 am
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    San Jose Giants lol

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  • July 30, 2015 at 12:05 am
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    Can you do the physics of Cricket? 
    Stuff like swinging the ball would be really interesting…

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  • July 30, 2015 at 2:58 pm
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    Physics of Hockey. Hint – It is not regelation

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  • August 4, 2015 at 2:10 pm
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    Knuckleball in football (or soccer as u guys like to call it)

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  • October 22, 2015 at 4:08 am
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    can you do lacrosse

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  • December 1, 2015 at 8:43 pm
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    The smarter sibling of Topher Grace!

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  • January 30, 2016 at 5:24 am
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    You do realize you are showing a 2-seam fastball instead of a 4-seam

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  • April 6, 2016 at 6:35 pm
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    holy fuck this dude is ugly and cringey

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  • April 19, 2016 at 4:31 pm
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    Julian is a TOOL

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  • April 25, 2016 at 1:56 am
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    Can you guys do Physics of Gun

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  • April 25, 2016 at 7:56 am
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    why theres no jyro ball

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  • May 23, 2016 at 12:43 am
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    did they really just sneak a mother fuckin add on me?? 2:37

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  • May 31, 2016 at 1:20 am
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    San jose giants??? Cmon bro

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  • June 6, 2016 at 12:13 am
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    Now i want to buy a honda

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  • June 12, 2016 at 7:32 pm
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    1:44 did he call a splitter a sinker

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  • June 14, 2016 at 1:04 pm
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    A cricket ball can operate much the same way, except with a few more variables thrown in: The ball being strategically scuffed or shined to create movement through the air, the spinning ball interacting with the playing surface and the single circumference seam.

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  • July 25, 2016 at 9:10 am
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    The psychics in bowling in cricket

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  • August 2, 2016 at 1:07 pm
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    lol your right

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  • September 2, 2016 at 12:20 am
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    Mentioned are the more well-known pitches. But left out of the discussion were other pitches such as the Screwball, the Forkball, and, yes, the banned Spitball. He did not get into the different variety of Fastball pitches which have different spins & breaks; 2-seam Fastball, 4-seam Fastball (Sinker), Split-Fingered Fastball, and the Cutter. Ditto for the variety of off-speed pitches in the Change-up family; Straight Change, Circle Change, and the Palmball. All different in their own way.

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  • September 7, 2016 at 9:32 pm
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    How about head force trauma in football?

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  • October 13, 2016 at 2:41 pm
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    Make physics behind cricket ball pitches ( fast bowling)

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  • October 29, 2016 at 8:42 am
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    The reason we keep reminding you guys is because the game is called Football. In Britain we don't associate Baseball or American football with the World Series or being world champions…. as we never get invited over there to play in in…. nice video though.

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  • January 25, 2017 at 6:43 am
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    San francisco,giants not San Jose

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  • March 24, 2017 at 7:34 pm
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    I flunked all my science classes. how the F– did I make 3rd team all-borough?

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  • March 28, 2017 at 2:26 pm
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    so many variables with baseball. as a catcher you "frame" the ball. so wherever the ball hits his glove he has to be handy (no pun intended) enough to deceive the human eye of the umpire. upon that, a judgement call is made. umpires are often right but pitchers are often aware of the discretion tendencies of how an umpire will call the ball he throws

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  • April 3, 2017 at 6:26 am
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    this guy said "San Jose "Giants"😂😂

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  • April 6, 2017 at 5:37 am
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    is that really why they switch balls?

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  • April 17, 2017 at 8:59 pm
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    Bro you eyes

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  • April 19, 2017 at 9:52 am
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    Baseball is played at a pastoral pace yet requires lightning quick reflexes.

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  • April 30, 2017 at 4:52 am
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    I love the San Jose giants

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  • May 8, 2017 at 1:19 am
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    "San Jose Giants"

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  • May 10, 2017 at 6:20 pm
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    best vid ever

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  • May 17, 2017 at 10:45 pm
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    shameless plug

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  • May 24, 2017 at 4:00 am
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    He said San Jose giants

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  • June 3, 2017 at 3:26 am
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    umm PITCHER NERD ALERT! the images of the grips are inaccurate. I know no one gives a shit about it tho :'(

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  • June 12, 2017 at 2:49 pm
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    Holy shit smooth plug there

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  • June 21, 2017 at 1:53 am
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    What is the effect of the "laces" on an NFL football when it is thrown?

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  • July 14, 2017 at 5:05 pm
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    how about a doing the physics of tennis serves

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  • August 1, 2017 at 8:45 am
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    What sport is soccer?

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  • August 20, 2017 at 9:08 pm
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    Uhh the reason for removing a ball when it hits the ground because it killed someone.

    I believe it was the Cleveland Indians player by the name of Chapman, at Yankees stadium in 1920. They played with one ball the whole game. By the end of the day the ball was completely dirt colored and misshapen by the amount of contact during the game. At this time there wasn't anything in the way of safety, including "batters' eye" or the solid usually black background to see it clearly or even batting helmets. It happened because it was the end of the game before stadium lights. The sky was in twilight, the shape of the ball at that point was more of an oval which made it travel in air very differently. Between the movement and the color that matched the sky, Chapman didn't see it, didn't react at all. Without a batting helmet the pitch caught him in the forehead, he poured blood at home plate he died shortly after in a NYC hospital. I guess the blessing was that he never saw it coming, never regained consciousness, and passed away doing what he loved without ever suffering.

    We should all be so lucky.

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  • August 28, 2017 at 2:50 am
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    San Jose Giants????????????????

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  • September 3, 2017 at 5:11 pm
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    Also. At 2:15 why is Arizona Senator Jeff Flake shown as a college or professional player? He's almost 60 years old?

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  • September 23, 2017 at 2:18 am
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    Yup he's a nerd the giants are in SF not SJ

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  • November 1, 2017 at 1:41 am
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    I was almost about to leave this video because your ugly ass kept poppin up then i see you tryin to plug a car commercial, na dude never again

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  • December 8, 2017 at 11:08 pm
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    0:37 san jose giants?? smh

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  • March 2, 2018 at 7:19 pm
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    People say baseball is easy. It's actually the hardest sport in the world. Just one example of that is a major league fastball gets to the plate in about .395 seconds and you have to read the pitch, load, decide if you are going to swing, and swing in the time less than a blink of an eye

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  • March 4, 2018 at 3:53 am
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    Did this mf just say "San Jose Giants"?

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  • March 8, 2018 at 8:52 pm
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    How about looking into how the sibling sport to baseball… cricket.

    Similarly when the bowler (like a pitcher) bowls (throws over arm) fast 80-90 mph the ball can move through the air. We call it "swing". Some bowlers can manipulate the ball to swing left and right. The best bowlers for swing are found in my native England where there's more moisture in the air. But tbh, one one really knows how this works. And bare in mind that the global money in cricket is HUGE. So a lot of scientists have been looking into this phenomenon and so far it's a mystery.

    If you are the sort who laugh off the cricket thing then read on…

    The bowler marks out is run up some 50 feet behind where he'll release. As he runs in he'll spring into his bowling action. The arm with the ball at it's highest will be around 10 feet off the ground. From 22 yards away, he'll release the ball.

    The ball will hit the ground in front of you and bounce and then move or swing to your left or right. It might be only by half an inch or by a foot. Depending on where the ball hits the ground in front of you, near your feet or three – five yards in front will determine whether the ball will hit your foot, ankle etc upto four feet above your head.

    The bounce depends on the speed. If you're facing a Fast bowler, you're talking 90+ mph (after the ball has bounced!). From 22 yards away you'll have all of 0.22 seconds to decide whether to duck under it, or try and play a shot. One wrong move, misjudgment or mistake and you're out or be in need of an x-ray or just stitches. Some of the best batsmen can score hundreds of runs (points) in 40° heat against Fast bowling for hours and hours and even days. You might have heard of a variation of the game called "Test Cricket". It tests folks to breaking point.

    So don't dismiss this sport. Embrace it and look for videos of fast bowlers like Mitchell Johnson, Curtly Ambrose, Bret Lee, Alan Donald or Dale Steyn.

    Reply
  • March 14, 2018 at 11:35 pm
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    aLL yOu hAvE tO do iS hiT a bALL wiTh a sTiCk

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  • March 25, 2018 at 12:15 am
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    0:38 San Jose giants?

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  • April 7, 2018 at 12:58 am
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    Wow, that was so slick product placement.

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  • April 9, 2018 at 6:07 am
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    San Jose giants 😭😭

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  • April 10, 2018 at 4:34 am
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    Baseball sucks

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  • April 18, 2018 at 8:51 pm
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    Almost all of the pitch grips you showed were wrong.

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  • April 29, 2018 at 9:41 pm
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    thumbs down for doing a commercial in your video. and i stopped the video in 1 second.

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  • May 2, 2018 at 3:22 pm
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    you do bad and y are gay

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  • May 4, 2018 at 1:50 am
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    couldn't tell if this was a boring baseball video or an exciting physics video

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  • May 8, 2018 at 3:28 am
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    what does a Toyota have to do with baseball pitches?

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  • May 9, 2018 at 4:03 pm
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    I've done the fast ball before but my best pitching was the curved ball and sadly sometimes when I was the one holding the bat I would receive the balls to the hip or the ribcage it hurt a lot

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  • May 12, 2018 at 3:34 pm
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    america's past time? you mean regieme change and perpetual war? oh. right.. i guess baseball counts too…

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  • May 30, 2018 at 12:27 am
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    Physics behind a proper American football throw (like actually whipping your body instead of just arming it like 80% of the general public)?

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  • May 30, 2018 at 12:56 pm
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    San Jose Giants?!!! STOP

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  • June 2, 2018 at 12:55 am
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    Did anyone else realize that some of the grips were Different than usual and some wrong

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  • June 3, 2018 at 3:54 am
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    when i first saw this dude i thought it was linus from tec tips

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  • June 3, 2018 at 6:07 am
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    dude 13% neck

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  • June 9, 2018 at 1:30 am
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    “Smoother the ball, the further a batter can hit it” —-I thought the opposite was true?

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  • June 15, 2018 at 8:37 am
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    1:10 the baseball is incorrect

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  • June 15, 2018 at 11:05 pm
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    Is it just me or does he have huge ears

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  • July 2, 2018 at 8:06 pm
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    I stopped watching at San Jose giants

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  • July 6, 2018 at 7:38 pm
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    Your 1st example of a 4 seam fastball in (virtual) flight was a 2 seamer.

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  • August 10, 2018 at 2:55 am
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    I cannot look at the Toyota "TRD" without thinking TuRD. And now you will never see it the same way again…

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  • August 11, 2018 at 4:14 pm
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    Hey Can Someone Fight My Slider Plus Fastball

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  • August 31, 2018 at 1:00 am
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    This guy only uses gluten free, locally sourced, artisanal baseballs in his Williamsburg old-timey “base ball” team

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  • October 22, 2018 at 3:36 am
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    Sometime tells me this guy would rather throw lattes at starbucks then actually get sweaty playing baseball.

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  • February 26, 2019 at 9:31 am
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    San Jose 😉

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  • March 5, 2019 at 11:17 am
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    Next time get a host that has seen a baseball before.

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  • June 21, 2019 at 3:31 am
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    He forgot “free balling” … that’s when the pitcher wears no undies

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  • June 24, 2019 at 7:37 am
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    Can we have a video for each type of pitch?

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  • July 6, 2019 at 3:55 am
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    0:38 San Jose Giants?

    Reply

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