Knuckleball! Reviews

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Harlequin68
Super Reviewer
½ September 23, 2012
While there there might be more informative documentaries than "Knuckleball!" it does have some good stories to tell that do not sugarcoat any of the pitchers' struggles while also stressing that baseball is more than just empty statistics, however gaudy they may be. In the case of Aroldis Chapman, extremely gaudy. At the other end of the velocity spectrum of pitchers comes quite possibility the last knuckleballers, Tim Wakefield and R.A. Dickey, who the documentary follows for the 2011 season. Since pitching is like real estate in that it is all about location, location and location, a knuckleball can be very effective despite its low relative velocity because not even the pitcher is sure of where it is exactly going. At its worst, the pitch does not move and you have batting practice which can give ulcers to managers and pink slips to pitchers. Explaining all of this well is knuckleball practitioners from the past including Jim Bouton and Tom Candiotti. And my favorite part of the documentary is a roundtable between Wakefield, Dickey, Phil Niekro and Charlie Hough, also a mentor to Dickey. While it is also fun to see old videos of the featured pitchers, the best part had yet to come for R.A. Dickey in his all-star 2012 season, just having won his 19th game of the season yesterday. That having been said, I would have liked to have seen more of the literature loving, subway riding and mountain climbing part of his personality that makes him sound so interesting.
½ July 30, 2013
An excellent documentary on knuckleballers and their careers, especially Tim Wakefield and R.A. Dickey. It has a great focus on their lives and families, which is a nice touch. Worth checking out for any fan of baseball.
½ July 7, 2013
Baseball is not my sport. However I do enjoy the World Series and can appreciate the intricacies and nuances of America's pastime. Knuckleball takes one of the games biggest mysteries and dives into the history of the pitch and the few who have and still do use the pitch to their advantage (or as some would say their disadvantage). Following the careers of Tim Wakefield and R.A. DIckey Knuckleball is an interesting look at two outsiders in a game that dislikes parity.
½ April 3, 2013
Anybody can play music fast and loud. But it takes a real musician to play music slowly and softly. That is the mantra of music teachers, students and musicians the world over. This is a mantra that believe it or not can also be applied to the game of baseball. One might ask one's self in reading that, what do baseball and music have to do with one another, right? Simple. Just as any musician can play fast and loud, any pitcher in baseball can throw fast and hard. But just as it takes a true musician to play slowly and softly, it takes a true pitcher to throw a ball that to this day befuddles players on both sides of the bat. That is shown through the new baseball documentary, Knuckleball.

Knuckleball is more than just another documentary. It's a documentary that presents two underdog figures who have overcome some big odds to become two of baseball's most respected pitchers despite throwing what is considered one of the game's least respected pitches. Those men are R.A. Dickey and Tim Wakefield. The pair's rise to fame wasn't an easy one. In the case of Dickey, he was shuffled up and down through baseball's big leagues and the minors until he was ultimately given a chance by the New York Mets. On the other side, audiences are presented the story of fellow "knuckleballer" Tim Wakefield. Both men were doubted early on by their teams, managers and fans because of their pitch of choice. But through perseverance and respect for their craft, viewers see how the pair has helped to bring new respect to the pitch and to other pitchers that throw knuckleballs.

The story is told expertly by film makers Ricki Stern and Annie Sundberg. The pair culled footage of Dickey and Wakefield from both their professional careers and their formative years as youths. The pair's professional footage comes courtesy of a partnership with Major League Baseball Productions. Their discussions with fellow "knuckleballers" Charlie Hough, Wilbur Wood, Jim Bouton, Tom Candiotti, and Phil Niekro are something resembling members of an elite fraternity. Audiences will enjoy these moments as members of two totally separate generations share their "war stories." Dickey and Wakefield also share their own stories with the film makers. Their stories range from the humorous to the deeply emotional as they explain where they came from and the work put in to reach baseball's highest level. Combined with the accompanying video profiling each man's career, these stories are the highlights of this feature.

Some by now might be asking why they should have any interest in this documentary. Again, the answer is simple. It goes back to the documentary's early minutes, when Newsday writer David Lennon references Americans' desire for immediate gratification and higher speeds. They don't want to see slow pitches. Lennon is right. There seems to be an ever increasing push for pitchers to throw faster than the last guy. But, in watching this feature, baseball fans will see why the knuckleball-and throwing the knuckleball--should be given as much credit as the fastball, curve or slider. It proves that the knuckleball is more than just a pitch and why throwing it is an art in itself. The pitcher is throwing, with a knuckleball, a pitch that forces the batter to second guess himself, much like a racer on the starting line at a drag strip does against his competitor. It's a pitch that forces both sides to think and have full clarity of mind. A pitcher that can fake out a batter time and again with this pitch is a true pitcher. He isn't just relying on being able to throw fast and hard. He is throwing a ball that takes true thought to deliver and to hit. And while the current generation of pitchers isn't exactly chock full of "knuckleballers", viewers will see in the bonus features that there is still another generation of pitchers ready to carry on the legacy of this pitch and those who threw it before them. And who knows? Maybe one day, baseball fans will see another documentary on this fabled not-so-fast-ball. And with that next documentary, it will be spoken of in far more respected terms.
½ December 31, 2012
96% Great Documentary
½ March 15, 2014
Profile the 2011 seasons of Tim Wakefield and R.A. Dickey, the only two pitchers currently in Major League Baseball who regularly throw the knuckleball pitch. Serendipitously, it turned out to be Wakefield final season after 19 years in baseball, 17 of them with the Boston Red Sox, and one in which he would win his 200th career game (a major milestone) before retiring at the end of the season. R.A. Dickey, at the age of 37 years, would have his breakout year as a major league starter with the New York Mets. He would win the Cy Young Award for the best pitcher in the National League the following season.

Filmmakers Annie Sundberg and Ricki Stern made heavy use of game footage from the 2011 season. The film is much stronger when it tells Wakefield and Dickey's respective life stories, charting careers filled with ups and downs, in which the knuckleball saved them from obscurity, then and at times desert them. Dickey's opening-day start in 2011 went awry because he broke a fingernail; Wakefield looked to be washed up after a few good years in Pittsburgh, because he lost confidence in his main pitch. And both men had tough 2011s, with Dickey battling injuries and Wakefield losing six consecutive starts and briefly being relegated to the bullpen out before getting his 200th win.

What I like the most, however, was the larger context of the world of the knuckleball pitcher. The filmmakers do a great job of painting these guys are part of an exclusive club. There aren't a lot of knuckleballers, so they have to stick together. This camaraderie makes for some interesting scenes, particularly when Dickey and Wakefield hang out with retired knuckleball pitchers Charlie Hough, Phil Niekro, Wilbur Wood, Jim Bouton, and Tom Candiotti.

The movie is good for an inside look at the game, particularly these two men and how the pitch defines them. It's a must for baseball fans. The history is fascinating, the subjects are likable, and there's some genuine emotion in its concluding sections. Mostly enjoyable, you don't have to be a baseball fan to like this movie.
½ February 23, 2014
Surprising good baseball documentary. I went in not expecting much, but the directors did a good job getting and keeping you invested. I never thought much about the knuckleball when I liked baseball, but having seen this, I hope the pitch will continue.
½ January 24, 2014
A mediocre sports documentary that is mildly entertaining.
½ September 16, 2013
I thoroughly enjoyed this film, and not just because I am a Red Sox fan and love Tim Wakefield. Fascinating to learn about the knuckleball pitch and the evolution a knuckleball pitcher. Love the so called "Fraternity" of pitchers, and the mentorship of one generation to the next.
September 28, 2012
Well done Documentary on the Special craft of the Knuckleball!
July 19, 2013
An incredible documentary that looks at the craziest pitch in baseball, and the men that made it famous
July 14, 2013
The best baseball doc I've ever seen. If you like baseball, you'll love this movie. Hopefully some skinny kid will see this movie and keep the knuckleball alive.
Must see!
June 15, 2013
'The way to catch a knuckleball is to wait until it stops rolling and then pick it up.'
April 10, 2013
Well made and enjoyable documentary for baseball fans, but probably won't offer much to anybody else.
February 14, 2013
Great story, especially when you consider RA Dickey's success in 2012 (the year after the film was shot), and his difficult childhood. The guy is really admirable and continues to prove himself every day. Ditto Tim Wakefield.
December 29, 2012
Needed me a small baseball miracle right now, and this movie provided it. Best line from the movie? Phil Niekro advising Tim Wakefield, "Accept losses without defeat." Knuckleball pitching is an inconsistent miracle, like a nursery rhyme of a pitch: when it's good, it's very very good, and when it's bad, it's batting practice. Would love the opportunity to see a knuckleball pitcher in action someday.
December 9, 2012
Superb, surprisingly uplifting movie.
November 3, 2012
Even if you aren't a baseball fan, you will enjoy this movie. And if you are a baseball fan, you will love it!
½ September 25, 2012
One of the best documentaries I've seen in YEARS. I'm not a sports fan and it doesn't matter. This is a story about people; oddballs, rulebreakers and outsiders. Definitely worth your money. Definitely worth your time. I'll probably see this a second time!
Harlequin68
Super Reviewer
½ September 23, 2012
While there there might be more informative documentaries than "Knuckleball!" it does have some good stories to tell that do not sugarcoat any of the pitchers' struggles while also stressing that baseball is more than just empty statistics, however gaudy they may be. In the case of Aroldis Chapman, extremely gaudy. At the other end of the velocity spectrum of pitchers comes quite possibility the last knuckleballers, Tim Wakefield and R.A. Dickey, who the documentary follows for the 2011 season. Since pitching is like real estate in that it is all about location, location and location, a knuckleball can be very effective despite its low relative velocity because not even the pitcher is sure of where it is exactly going. At its worst, the pitch does not move and you have batting practice which can give ulcers to managers and pink slips to pitchers. Explaining all of this well is knuckleball practitioners from the past including Jim Bouton and Tom Candiotti. And my favorite part of the documentary is a roundtable between Wakefield, Dickey, Phil Niekro and Charlie Hough, also a mentor to Dickey. While it is also fun to see old videos of the featured pitchers, the best part had yet to come for R.A. Dickey in his all-star 2012 season, just having won his 19th game of the season yesterday. That having been said, I would have liked to have seen more of the literature loving, subway riding and mountain climbing part of his personality that makes him sound so interesting.
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