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Bloops: Baseball in Slow-Motion

Posted by Neil Paine on May 5, 2011

If you haven't seen this guy's YouTube channel already, you should check it out:

YouTube - laflippin's Channel

He basically takes a Casio EX-F1 camera to games and films batters and pitchers' mechanics at 300 fps. For instance, here's a behind-the-plate view of Adrian Gonzalez hitting a HR:

Likewise, here's Tim Lincecum's delivery in slo-mo:

It's pretty awesome to see everything slowed down like that.

This entry was posted on Thursday, May 5th, 2011 at 9:17 am and is filed under Bloops, Videos. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

22 Responses to “Bloops: Baseball in Slow-Motion”

  1. John Autin Says:

    Wow -- great stuff there, Neil. Especially cool to see the shadow of the ball on the pitch to Gonzalez.

    Too bad we don't have super-slow-motion of El Tiante or Satchel.

    Would love to see if he has any knuckleball clips.

  2. dukeofflatbush Says:

    Awesome!
    I wish there was a way to see at what moment a hitter makes up his mind to swing.
    I realize there is probably more instinct at work in that decision making process than there is, to maybe, a pitcher's selection of pitch. But even in the slow-mo, I couldn't quite see the moment that Gonzalez fully committed to that swing.

  3. Is it me or does Lincecum's delivery look less crazy here? Maybe it's the angle or the speed or both (or maybe he's toned it down from where he started his career, since I don't watch him regularly), but it seems far more "typical" than I remember.

    Also, how the hell does he get a tripod and a telephoto lense into a ballgame??? Badass!

  4. dukeofflatbush Says:

    @ BSK

    During last night's game, Mets announcers said (I don't know how true this is) but they said Lincecum's front foot lands 6-8 inches closer to home plate than the average.
    But I do remember thinking last night, that Tim's follow through seemed less "freaky" - so maybe you are on to something.

  5. 4-

    That may be true. Hard to say with this angle and not a "regular" pitcher next to him to compare with. But I htought I remember him scooping his arm almost to the ground on his follow through. I read an SI article about hsi dad putting a dollar bill there when he was growing up and telling him to pick up the bill. It'd be curious if the guy has several of these from different points in a guys career and to compare them.

  6. dukeofflatbush Says:

    @ BSK

    Heard the same story, thought it made a great baseball story, and I love guys who seems to go an untraditional route.
    We one had a thread here, discussing unconvential approaches to both hitting and pitching and how kids are all being taught basically the same mechanics and everything is so homogenized.
    Guys like D-train or Nomo, Bradford or Youklis who have these quirks make the game more exciting and just plain fun.
    But regardless, Lincecum scraping the ground on follow through or not, he kicks butt.

  7. Indeed. You see that in other sports, as well. Unfortunately, there is often an attempt to "fix" those guys. I understand fixing a guy whose approach is ineffective or causes specific problems (production or health wise), but if a guy looks like a whacko doing it but can do it and do it well and without a major risk of injury, why stop him?

  8. Johnny Twisto Says:

    I don't really know much about mechanics (maybe no one does, since they can't keep these guys healthy), but I think Lincecum's look great. Certainly unconventional, but they go way beyond merely "freaky" or "quirky." Great torque, great leg drive. I'm not sure if they've changed in the last couple years, I've never watched him from this angle before.

    If you've never seen it before, there was a great analysis of him right after he was drafted by a scout over at BTF. He loved Lincecum's delivery.
    http://www.baseballthinkfactory.org/files/mechanics/discussion/controlled_fury_tim_lincecum/

  9. The seemingly simple act of throwing a baseball is unnatural and unhealthy for the human body. That is the simple fact of the matter. Compared to a football throw, where the hand is in the "neutral" position, it is a violent attack on the entirety of the arm. While not an apples-to-apples comparison (quarterbacks throw comparatively fewer throws and at varying intensities), we rarely hear about QBs with injuries simply from throwing. It happens, but is almost always in the shoulder (as opposed to the upper arm, elbow, forearm, back, shoulder, abdomen, etc. for a pitcher) and is compounded by the physicality of the sport. Man was simply not designed to throw a curveball. And while I believe that there have been identified certain approachs to the throwing motion that have a high degree of risk, the act is inherently risky and we otherwise don't know much about making it less risky. As such, unless a pitcher is at obvious risk for an injury, just let the man chuck as he sees fit. If it works, it works. Who cares what it looks like?

  10. Lincecum almost ends up with his back facing the hitter, which I would say is unconventional. He also may have the highest leg kick of his generation. Maybe Gonzalez as well.

  11. By the way, baseball is often knocked for being too slow and boring. Ironic that watching it in super slow makes it infinitely more exciting!

  12. laflippin Says:

    Thanks for the kind words Neil, and everyone. I appreciate it very much. A subscriber gave me the heads-up that you folks were looking at my videos, and I also noticed a spate of new subscriptions very recently.

    Most of the MLB vids at my YouTube channel are taken at AT&T, and a much smaller collection at the Coliseum in Oakland.

    There'll be more coming as the season progresses, but it's the old story--I'm just a fan and buy most of my tix from friends who are season ticket holders. They're good guys but the games I get are not always the ones I would like.

    Anyway, thanks again for checking it out. A helpful hint for subscribers: If you visit my channel, you can enter the names of players of interest in the "Search Uploads" field--you'll find multiple clips of every SF Giant player and selected clips of many of their opponents as well as a few A's, Tigers, Red Sox.

    If you don't find what you want, stay tuned--I'm in it for the long run.

  13. joseph taverney Says:

    @ JT & BSK

    You both talked about arm mechanics and the obvious question - 'why if we're doing it right do so many young arms fail?' -

    Mike Marshal, of the famed 200 Gs in 2 seasons has taken a whole new approach to mechanics.
    He feels if the hand and the elbow remain at a perpendicular angle upon release, there is not the same torque to the joints (elbow, wrist & shoulder) with little drop off in velocity.
    And with the small drop off in velocity, he has a training program, completely unique to anything out there, to strengthen the certain muscles that seem to generate the most resistance while throwing as hard as one can.

    BSK
    I'm glad you agree with me about unorthodox approaches to baseball, and not for the ascetics of a swing or throw, but for the simple fact that we are born and adjust to different things.
    According to legend, Mickey Mantle never lifted a weight.
    Who knows, but maybe lifting would of ruined a perfect baseball body.

  14. John Autin Says:

    @12, Laflippin -- I don't suppose there's any way to do what you while focusing n the pitched ball? I'm dying to see this type of video on a knuckleball, but I imagine it would be nearly impossible.

    In any case, great work and many thanks!

  15. Johnny Twisto Says:

    I don't think Mantle was unique in that regard. It seems like lifting was rare and generally discouraged until about 20 years ago.

    BSK is of course correct that pitching is a violent act and some pitchers will always get hurt. There just doesn't seem to be much improvement in reducing injuries, despite over a century of observing mechanics and a good 15 years of observing pitch counts.

  16. John Autin Says:

    @13, Joseph Taverney re: Mike Marshall -- I'd love to believe that his unorthodox approach is effective. But is there any evidence that it is, for anyone but himself? I've read skeptical reviews from some in the saber community. I know it's a hard sort of thing to document statistically.

  17. John,

    I know exactly what you are talking about, re: slo-mo analysis of knuckleball movement. I've been interested in that but there are definitely problems: Obviously there are very few MLB-level (i.e., high quality) knuckleball pitchers and, even if I went to a game where R.A. Dickey or Tim Wakefield were pitching, I can't easily afford seats with the vantage points that would best show off trajectories of knuckleballs.

    I did a little bit of video with a High School knuckleballer once, but his knuckler was only so-so...sometimes it looked legit, many times it didn't look like anything you could pitch with. If you go to YouTube and search for a channel called BaseballFarm you can find the knuckleball stuff I did there.

  18. I just don't think there is a healthy way to pitch a baseball. Even guys who are workhorses and generally remain injury free can't throw again for a few days after pitching. It's just not meant to be done. Most of the guys who avoid injuries are "leg throwers".

    At the end of the day, do what works. I don't know if any sport has a "perfect" way of doing things. And even if they did, not everyone could repeat that motion, either because of the uniqueness of their body or because of an inability to "unlearn" the approach they developed over time. And thank god for that!

    Of course, you do run the risk of a guy like Shaq, who flat out refused to learn the underhand method of shooting free throws which, if successful, would have made him literally unstoppable, because it didn't look cool.

  19. Laflippin-

    How do you get your equipment into games?

  20. joseph taverney Says:

    @ Laflippin

    To echo Johnny's sentiment; it is cool what you are doing - it is greater than awesome that you would share this with us. You might think of contacting scouts with your film.
    I've used tons of digital video but never something as high as 300 FPS.
    The first view of the Lincecum video, I assumed it was paused, cause he was so still. Maybe that is part of his effect. That moment of pure Zen, trusting your body to duplicate.

    @ JA, JT & BSK
    About arm mechanics and any correlation to injury and unorthodox approaches to the game(s).
    I do agree throwing a baseball, especially breaking pitches, is an unnatural process. But there has to be, on an individual basis, a 'better' way to do it.
    I sincerely feel, if Kerry Wood did not feel the need to throw 110 MPH every pitch, he might of been one of the greats.
    There is also the Nolan Ryan school, where he contends pitch confinement is the problem. And if you look through his era, you will see most of the 4,500 IP guys.
    As a Met fan, I have watched F-rod contort his body, and have a million unnecessary moving parts, but even as his fast ball has lost 6 MPH, he still fools nearly everyone with his change.
    And I attribute that to his whirlly mechanics. But I think he REPEATS them so well, that is the key, not form, but consistent repetition

  21. JoTav-

    Great point. Each person likely has an ideal motion for their body (or perhaps multiple ideals depending on the goal... one that is ideal for health, one that is ideal for generating velocity, one that is ideal for generating torque/spin) and there are probably guys who do not pitch as effectively as they can, when considered in a vacuum. But it is incredibly hard to change a pitching or batting motion, especially once a guy reaches the professional level. If someone somehow figured out that Lincecum would be more effective AND less of an injury risk if he had a very simple, basic motion, he likely would spend so many years in transition that any gains would be wasted in the lost time.

    The Nolan Ryan school of thought is interesting and I'd be curious to see it investigated more thoroughly.

    Ideally, someone would figure out how to throw a baseball with the neutral grip (palm facing in) like a football.

  22. laflippin Says:

    re: "How do you get your equipment into games?"

    Great question, bsk. I turns out that every MLB club/ballpark has an individual policy regarding video equipment. You can usually research the information at their websites.

    AT&T is fairly liberal--they allow photography and video during games as long as it is not used for commercial purposes. I've always been careful to avoid any offers to make money from pop-ads, etc, on the MLB video that I post on YouTube and I don't sell any of it under the table, either.

    I also need a tripod to get really steady video and AT&T allows that, with certain restrictions, i.e., that I don't block aisles with it or annoy other fans.

    Ticket-takers at the gates aren't always aware of the ballpark policies so I got a short letter of approval for the tripod from one of the SF GIants' customer reps--I keep that in my camera bag, and it has saved me from a lot of trouble at the gates.

    The Coliseum doesn't allow fans to bring a tripod into the park. They allow monopods, but I don't have one...so my video from there is hand-steadied the best I can. It's not bad, but you can easily notice the difference in stability.