Let Them Wear Towels Premieres Next Tuesday In Nine For IX Series

Courtesy:  ESPN/espnW

Courtesy: ESPN/espnW

Next Tuesday, July 16th, ESPN will premiere the next film in its new Nine For IX series. Let Them Wear Towels is the latest in the film series.  It will air at 8pm.  The new film focuses on the challenges faced by female sports reporters as they struggled to make their own place in the largely male dominated world that is the professional sports locker room.  The film was co-directed by Annie Sundberg and Ricki Stern.  The core of the story centers on examples such as that of then twenty-five year old Boston Herald reporter Lisa Olsen’s sexual harassment case involving players with the New England Patriots and that of Sports Illustrated reporter Melissa Ludtke being barred from the New York Yankees’ clubhouse.

Olsen’s case rose as a result of Olsen being sexually harassed by members of the team, who exposed their genitals to her and made crass comments to her.  The 1990 case resulted in an investigation by the NFL.  It resulted in the finding that Olsen had in fact been “degraded and humiliated” by the players in question.  Despite her win in the case, fans of the Pats continued to chide her so harshly in public that she ended up moving all the way around the world to Australia for a period of time to restart her broadcasting career.

Melissa  Ludtke, who at the time worked for Sports Illustrated, faced her own turmoil as a female sports reporter.  She had been barred from entering the New York Yankees’ locker room over a decade ago..  Ludtke challenged the action by the Yankees organization and won.

Sundberg and Stern incorporate interviews with Ludtke, Olsen and many others within the sports universe in their examination of why the subject of female reports in the professional sports locker room remains such a hot button issue today.  The pair examines the history of women in the largely male dominated sports world as well in order to find out why this remains such an important topic even now in the twenty-first century.    This film, and all of the films in the Nine for IX series can be downloaded the day after their broadcast via iTunes and Amazon.  This October, there will be a special collectible gift set that includes all of the films in the Nine for IX series.  It will be available October 15th, 2013.

The complete Nine For IX schedule is listed below.

July 16: Let Them Wear Towels

 

July 23: No Limits

 

July 30: Swoopes

 

August 6: The Diplomat

 

August 13: Runner

 

August 20: The ‘99ers

 

August 27: Branded

 

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Knuckleball An Emotional, Informative Baseball Documentary

Courtesy:  mpi media group/MLB Productions

Courtesy: mpi media group/MLB Productions

Anybody can play music fast and loud.  But it takes a real musician to play music slowly and softly.  That is the mantra of music teachers, students and musicians the world over.  This is a mantra that believe it or not can also be applied to the game of baseball.  One might ask one’s self in reading that, what do baseball and music have to do with one another, right?  Simple.  Just as any musician can play fast and loud, any pitcher in baseball can throw fast and hard.  But just as it takes a true musician to play slowly and softly, it takes a true pitcher to throw a ball that to this day befuddles players on both sides of the bat.  That is shown through the new baseball documentary, Knuckleball

Knuckleball is more than just another documentary.  It’s a documentary that presents two underdog figures who have overcome some big odds to become two of baseball’s most respected pitchers despite throwing what is considered one of the game’s least respected pitches.  Those men are R.A. Dickey and Tim Wakefield.  The pair’s rise to fame wasn’t an easy one.  In the case of Dickey, he was shuffled up and down through baseball’s big leagues and the minors until he was ultimately given a chance by the New York Mets.  On the other side, audiences are presented the story of fellow “knuckleballer” Tim Wakefield.  Both men were doubted early on by their teams, managers and fans because of their pitch of choice.  But through perseverance and respect for their craft, viewers see how the pair has helped to bring new respect to the pitch and to other pitchers that throw knuckleballs.

The story is told expertly by film makers Ricki Stern and Annie Sundberg.  The pair culled footage of Dickey and Wakefield from both their professional careers and their formative years as youths.  The pair’s professional footage comes courtesy of a partnership with Major League Baseball Productions.  Their discussions with fellow “knuckleballers” Charlie Hough, Wilbur Wood, Jim Bouton, Tom Candiotti, and Phil Niekro are something resembling members of an elite fraternity.  Audiences will enjoy these moments as members of two totally separate generations share their “war stories.”  Dickey and Wakefield also share their own stories with the film makers.  Their stories range from the humorous to the deeply emotional as they explain where they came from and the work put in to reach baseball’s highest level.  Combined with the accompanying video profiling each man’s career, these stories are the highlights of this feature.    

Some by now might be asking why they should have any interest in this documentary.  Again, the answer is simple.  It goes back to the documentary’s early minutes, when Newsday writer David Lennon references Americans’ desire for immediate gratification and higher speeds.  They don’t want to see slow pitches.  Lennon is right.  There seems to be an ever increasing push for pitchers to throw faster than the last guy.  But, in watching this feature, baseball fans will see why the knuckleball—and throwing the knuckleball–should be given as much credit as the fastball, curve or slider.  It proves that the knuckleball is more than just a pitch and why throwing it is an art in itself.  The pitcher is throwing, with a knuckleball, a pitch that forces the batter to second guess himself, much like a racer on the starting line at a drag strip does against his competitor.  It’s a pitch that forces both sides to think and have full clarity of mind.  A pitcher that can fake out a batter time and again with this pitch is a true pitcher.  He isn’t just relying on being able to throw fast and hard.  He is throwing a ball that takes true thought to deliver and to hit.  And while the current generation of pitchers isn’t exactly chock full of “knuckleballers”, viewers will see in the bonus features that there is still another generation of pitchers ready to carry on the legacy of this pitch and those who threw it before them.  And who knows?  Maybe one day, baseball fans will see another documentary on this fabled not-so-fast-ball.  And with that next documentary, it will be spoken of in far more respected terms.

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