Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Blue October: The Science Behind Baseball

#beroyal  #stayroyal

What a feeling! The MLB game Tuesday night will go down in the history books, especially for Kansas City fans, as one of the most significant games ever. Coming back from three decades of losing and an almost five hour game, the Kansas City Royals finally came out as winners.

With the Oakland A's having a 7-3 lead in the 6th inning, it seemed impossible for the Royals to pull out ahead in the Wild Card game. But they did it, their fans, their families and their team persevered to the very end.

So, what happens now? How does a team actually move ahead and win the World Series? It's not luck, it's hard work, and some science.

Here are five interesting facts that you should know about the science behind baseball:

  • Baseball's Dirty Little Secret: How many stitches?  Rawlings has been the MLB official baseball provider since 1977. Each baseball has 108 stitches with the first and last perfectly hidden. It's also perfectly symmetrical. The average life of a baseball is 6 pitches. The official balls are rubbed in a "secret" mud which makes them easier to pitch. It dulls the white color, makes them less slick and gives the pitcher more of a grip on them. America's official baseball is also manufactured in Costa Rica.
  • Swingers: Bat swing and speed vs. batted ball velocity seems to be a topic of controversy. Some will say the heavier the bat, the farther the ball will go. According to researchers that is true. HOWEVER, it obviously takes more effort and strength to swing a heavier bat. If you can't swing as fast then your ball isn't going to go as far. Researchers, consequently, will point out that the swing is even more important as it gets the ball where it needs to go. So, the faster you can swing, the farther the ball will go.  If a player can swing a heavier bat just as fast as they can a lighter bat, then their ball will go farther. But, if a player swings faster with a lighter bat, then stick to that if you want a chance at a home run. More than anything, the moment of inertia means the most (see below, "the sweet spot").Make sense?
  • The Sweet Spot: We all hear about the sweet spot and how it gives home runs. How does it happen? Experts explain that if the ball is traveling at 90 mph, it must hit the swinging bat at 80 mph hour (on the 1/8 of the special spot) which catapults it out at 110 mph, enough for a home run. How does one know it's hit the sweet spot? There is a stinging in the hands when the sweet spot is hit, according to most players, and it feels the best because it produces the longest hit.
  • Head First: According to a physicist at Washington University, it is faster to slide head first than feet first. He explains the arms are lighter than the legs, and the feet give a little extra push. That being said, players risk more injury with their arms out first, which can impede batting and catching.
  • So Close to Home: Most people will tell you 3rd and home base are the hardest to steal. Everyone knows the odds are against you if you are trying to steal home. Obviously, stealing 3rd base gets you closer to home but there are all kinds of variables which come into play. One is, never steal with a lefty at the plate because the pitcher doesn't have to throw over or around him to get to third base. Secondly, according to the kinematic model, most professional players will over slide the base and use the actual base to stop themselves to remain the highest speed possible. Rickey Henderson, of the Oakland A's holds the highest record of stolen bases: 1,406. This gave him the title of the "Man of Steal."

Now you have it--some science to look for next time you are watching America's favorite pastime. Wonder if all these theories are right? 
Go out there and play ball!

Check out the parody of Lorde's Royals. Great shots of KC famous spots.

No comments:

Post a Comment