Knucking Down


This article comes to us via…DRSEA INFORMER
Volume V, Issue 4: A Publication For Your Reading Enjoyment

For the third year in a row, I have been fortunate enough to get an invitation to the Dominican Global Film Festival, which annually presents a selection of international films intended to promote and encourage discussion and
understanding of global issues including social, political and economic. I was fortunate to catch one film that was surprisingly inspiring as well as entertaining and enlightening.
Knuckleball!” is a documentary about a select few pitchers in the entire history of baseball who have carved careers by throwing a pitch that has been known to baffle both the batter and the thrower.  The film follows Major League Baseball’s only knuckleballers in 2011; Tim Wakefield of the Boston Red Sox and R.A. Dickey of the New York Mets as they maneuver their way with a slow and unpredictable pitch in a world that favors speed and accuracy.  Also featured are former
knuckleballers Phil Niekro, Charlie Hough, Wilber Wood, Jim Bouton and Tom Candiotti.
Tim Wakefield “knuckles” down
What is interesting is the film provides, with the help of great film footage from Major League Baseball’s archives, a peak at the vibrancy of baseball through the eyes of a single pitch and the people who throw it. Wakefield was close to washout when he was urged to develop a knuckleball; when he retired earlier this year after a 19-year career, he was the oldest active player in the majors.  Dickey was in similar straits, a journeyman who had bounced from team to team before taking up residence with the Mets; he recently topped off his 17th year in the majors with a Cy Young Award.
What I took inspiration from was the determination all knuckleballers seem to embrace.  While the unconventional pitch is virtually unhittable because of its erratic and unpredictable motion, it is also difficult for pitchers to control, so its practitioners are rare, with many embracing the pitch after failing to have careers at other positions, or failing to master more conventional pitches like the fastball or curve.As a result, knuckleballers are labeled as having a trick, circus, freak or gimmick pitch; conjurers and illusionists as opposed to skillful masters of the art of pitching, no matter how effective they are.
I can empathize, as I have often been questioned both on the motive and method behind the Dominican Republic Sports & Education Academy, having to defend on far too many occasions why the DRSEA is important, why I pursue this unconventional dream despite all the obstacles and all the detractors.  Just like the knuckleballers, I struggle against all odds to stay in the game. As Dickey says about the film, “The narrative is not about a pitch as much as it’s about man’s
quest to be more than what people think that he can be.”
And so I persevere.
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