Five ounces of cork, yarn and leather is all it takes to produce high-velocity, mind-blowing physics. The movement of a baseball through the air is due to three things: The pitcher’s arm (moving it forward), gravity (moving it down), and air resistance from the spinning seams (which causes side-to-side, sinking and “rising” motion).
Gravity will always pull a pitch down as it travels to the plate, but back and side spin create areas of high pressure on one side of the ball (“The Magnus Effect”, named for its discoverer). This creates a force that pushes the ball in the opposite direction, whether it be sideways (likea slider), down (a sinker), or causing it to sink more slowly than normal (the “rising” pitch illusion).
Perhaps more than in any other sport, baseball pitchers embody the astonishing combination of precision and power in the heart of our motor neurons: Producing unbelievable force and grace, with nearly identical repetition, a couple hundred times a week.