KANSAS CITY, Mo. — As every Royals fan already knows, FOX Sports Kansas City color commentator Rex Hudler can get a little excited.
And nothing pumps up Hudler more than the tricks that “Phantom Camera” — FOX’s most revolutionary high-speed camera — can do for a broadcast.
Phantom Camera configures camera shots at 3,000 to 5,000 frames per second, allowing replays to show the most minute detail viewers can imagine — the seams on the baseball, the vibrations of the bat when it hits the ball, and even a pitcher’s skin on his throwing arm actually flapping form excessive torque.
“Absolutely ground-breaking,” Hudler says. “We’ve never seen that in the history of baseball. Guys who played in the 1920s and 1930s would have absolutely freaked out! Technology has taken this game to a level it has never seen before.
“I could feel all those former players in their graves go, ‘Wow, Hud. Look at that!'”
Royals fans are getting their second chance to view the wonders of Phantom Cam this weekend in the series against Detroit. They also got to see the Phantom Came at work during an earlier Royals road trip to Minnesota.
In one game at Minnesota, Royals starter Jeremy Guthrie was shown in replay throwing a hard slider — his arm torqued so much viewers could see the skin on his forearm flutter like a flag in the breeze.
“Seeing Guthrie’s skin fold because he puts so much torque on his pitches blew my mind,” Hudler says.
Fans also got to see just what happens to the bat when a hitter squares a pitch up as opposed to a ball not hit in the center of the barrel. There is very little vibration in the bat when a ball is squared up. Conversely, Phantom Cam shows that hits off-center create a wild vibration of the bat and a hitter’s hands not noticeable at all during conventional replays.
“To see a jam shot and see what it really looks like, the vibrations, and why that hurts your hands, we’ve never seen that,” Hudler gushes. “Then to look at what it looks like when it gets hit on the sweet spot, man, that gives our viewers a chance to feel what it’s really like in the batter’s box.
“Fans can be right there with that. I can’t tell you how cool that really is.”
Hudler says the Phantom Cam is an incredible tool for an analyst.
“Our job is to teach and to share,” Hudler says. “And that camera just proves things that we have been saying for years. Now you can actually see it.”
You can follow Jeffrey Flanagan on Twitter at @jflanagankc or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.