As the baseball season ends with the Cubs’ astonishing World Series victory, so ends the broadcasters’ obsession with the radar gun and the speed of Aroldis Chapman’s fast ball – and every other pitcher’s fast ball, curve, slider, twoseamer, cutter, four-seamer and, well, whatever else they were throwing.
By season’s end, pitchers no longer threw a fastball, or a curve, or a slider. They threw a 95 mph fastball, or an 85 mph curve, or a 91 mph slider. Aside from broadcasters’ speed obsession, we wondered whether viewers could process the difference between two-seam and four-seam fastballs, or cutters and sliders, let alone the speed of them; but it sounds significant, and it elevates the science behind a tech-infused broadcast. So we hear it repeatedly, even if difficult to comprehend.
In much earlier days, the Indians’ Bob Feller, the Phillies’ Robin Roberts and more recently the Mariners’- Diamonbacks’ Randy Johnson, were among pitchers who threw at 100 mph. But broadcasters then weren’t so enamored with speed and today’s can’t get enough. Speed is in.
As football takes over the viewing audience, we trust broadcasters to continue this infatuation with the speed gun.
In short time Mitch Holthus and Len Dawson will go wild, telling us that Alex Smith has just delivered a 70 mph pass to Jeremy Maclin (if healthy). Or that Dustin Colquitt’s punt had an exit velocity of 68 mph as it left his foot. Or that Cairo Santos had just kicked a 63 mph, 50-yard field goal.
And basketball. What is the average speed of a KU free throw, or the route efficiency of a dunk? We’ll know soon enough.
– JOHN MARSHALL