In celebration of summer, in a salute to our national pastime, and in honor of Sammi Kane Kraft, the real-life 13-year-old baseball player with the soft blue-green eyes and silky braids who makes her guileless acting debut alongside Billy Bob Thornton in Bad News Bears, I tip my cap to that most common and most expressive of camera shots, the close-up on a pitcher’s face before a pitch is thrown. Such stillness as a prelude to action! Such intimacy in the minuscule crick of yes or the ruffle of a shake-off, taken for granted because we have come to count on the lens to let us in on the pillow talk between pitcher and catcher! Of all the ritualized camera shots in all my favorite baseball movies (or, for that matter, in actual televised games), it’s the squint and the nod that knocks sports cinematography out of the park for me.
Posted July 29 2005 — 12:00 AM EDT