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Is the knuckleball an optical illusion?


STANDARD baseball pitch—slider, curveball, fastball—seems to slavishly follow the laws of physics, making it possible to predict where a ball will go and how it will get there. The knuckleball is different. It appears to dip suddenly, dart to one side or the other, or—when you least expect it—to float in straight over the plate. Hitters are left flailing desperately at it. On a six-game streak last season, pitcher R. A. Dickey struck out sixty-three batters and gave up a single unearned run. And yet Dickey, who joined the Blue Jays this season, is the only active knuckler in the major leagues. When he won the National League Cy Young Award in 2012, he was the first knuckleball pitcher ever to do so.

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