The heartbeat of the game of baseball is the battle between the pitcher and the batter - one man with a ball, one with a stick. As the pitcher winds up and the batter zeroes in, both of their bodies tense up and suddenly spring into action against each other. All actions of the game arise from that confrontation, sixty feet and six inches and barely a second in the making. As explained in the fascinating new documentary "Fastball", that seemingly arbitrary distance is actually a nearly perfect balance point between the two players on either side of the ball. From that distance, a pitch thrown as fast as a human being can possibly throw - somewhere just above 100 mph if you are an elite pitcher - is delivered at a speed that is right at the threshold for how quickly the most talented of hitters can see, process, and react to the pitch. At that highest level of execution, batters and umpires alike swear the ball "rises" as it reaches home plate - something that physics tells us is impossible.
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