Tuesday, January 20, 2009
The physics of baseball
I've always thought baseball was the sport of the common man more than any other. Football has become so high tech, with all the game film, headphones, helmet microphones, etc, that it seems like the James Bond of sports. Basketball is fast paced and high flying, at a speed that most people can't identify with. Hockey is associated with a more educated class of people (at least according to the studies I've seen) and golf and tennis are golf and tennis.
But baseball is baseball, and seems very simplistic. Its the game of throw the ball, hit the ball, catch the ball. It's sitting in the bleachers on a summer's day, drinking beer and sunning yourself. The good life.
Here, Tom Spears offers a lesson on the physics of baseball, and what happens on an infield fly. Its some good stuff, and short and simple. But I don't know many baseball players who really need this explained quite this scientifically. Ask anyone who's ever played the infield, and they'll tell you they don't know anything about the Mangnus Effect. They already know the ball has backspin on it, and it's difficult to judge an infield fly. Which is why so many of them fall in.
This is great for scientists and academics and sabermaticians. Because they feel the need to take the simple things from the game and explain it in a manner that most people just don't care about.
Throw the ball, hit the ball, catch the ball.
Still, I'm always up for a good lesson on anything baseball.