That Crazy R.A. Dickey Knuckleball GIF

Well, not “crazy” if you’re used to the knuckleball.

But who is used to the knuckleball? Not hitters. And although there’s a lot that a skilled knuckleball pitcher can do to get the ball in the strike zone, he has as little foreknowledge of exactly how the pitch will break as anybody else.

Colorized Knuckleball

The GIF is an animation showing R.A. Dickey’s knuckleball in slow motion with the knuckleball colorized, or rather half-colorized, so that you can see exactly how much (i.e., how little) a well-thrown knuckleball spins. We tweeted about it (here), then re-treeted physicist “and avid Boston Red Sox fan” Alan M. Nathan’s observation that the GIF was of the very pitch that he had examined in a study of the knuckleball’s trajectory. His detailed analysis—of the dynamics captured in the same slow-motion animation that has been making the rounds recently but before the colorization was added—is here. (One of Nathan’s firm conclusions about the pitch captured in the GIF is that it “gets very high marks on the nasty scale.”)

In his BaseballNation.com post, “The R.A. Dickey GIF you didn’t realize you needed,” Grant Brisbee says:

There have been hi-res R.A. Dickey GIFs around for years. I’m not sure which came first: the renaissance of Dickey or the renaissance of GIFs. Either way, if you want repeating images that highlight just how little Dickey’s knuckler moves, they’re out there. And for some reason, this colorization blows minds with even greater efficiency…. It’s that last dip at the end that gets me, though I think the [catcher’s] panicking adds to the effect. That is one angry knuckler.

Maybe we can agree to disagree on whether the catcher is “panicking.” It seems that he is only quickly adjusting his glove at the last split-instant so that it can be where the knuckleball finally ends up going. The catcher couldn’t very well have placed his glove there before he knew how the pitch would break; and, normally, an athlete’s fast reaction to fast-changing circumstances is not characterized as a moment of panic.

Nit-picking aside, we don’t dispute the interest and appeal of “that last dip at the end,” which, along with the scantiness of the rotation, is so vividly highlighted by the slow-motion-plus-colorization.

See IKA’s own videos of the knuckleball in motion by visiting our YouTube page.

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