The Dodgers & Angels Make LA Proud

Posted via web from thejackb’s posterous

How Baseball Players Catch Fly Balls

I thought that this was pretty cool. Somewhere my high school algebra teacher is smiling, more proof of math in the real world.

“Years ago, physicist Seville Chapman proposed a model to explain how players manage the path of a fly ball so that they arrive to intercept it at just the right time. His theory, called Optical Acceleration Cancellation (OAC), used the acceleration of the ball through the vision field as a guide for player movement.

As a fielder watches the ball rise, he moves either forward or backwards so that the ball moves at a constant speed through his field of vision. If he moves too far forward, the ball will rise faster and may eventually fly over his head. If he takes too many steps back, the ball will appear to rise slower and will drop in front of him.

By managing the ball’s position with his movement, a fielder will end up at the right spot at the right time. This explains why the stationary fielders could not predict where the ball would land, as they did not have the benefit of OAC.If we ask real fielders how they knew where to run to catch a ball, they may not respond with, “Well, I simply adjusted my relative field position to keep the tangent of the vertical optical angle to the ball increasing at a constant rate.” So, to test the OAC geometric equations against real life, researchers led by Dinant Kistemaker of the University of Western Ontario, compared the predicted running paths from their mathematical simulation with the real running paths of fielders observed in a previous study.

“We have found that running paths are largely consistent with those observed experimentally,” Kistemaker told LiveScience. “Largely, and not completely, because the start of fielders is somewhat strange: They tend to step forward first, irrespective of the fact that they have run either forward or backwards to catch that fly ball.”

The research is detailed this month in the journal Human Movement Science.”

Field of Dreams

I loved this scene.

2008 MLB All-Star Game

Just finished watching the hated A.L. defeat the N.L. again. 15 innings later and it is over. Feh. Of course I could have live blogged the game but didn’t feel like it.

The big kid hung out for a large portion of it, but eventually sleep called and he answered. Carried him to bed and marveled at how tall he has gotten. I’ll blink and he’ll be my size.

I remember being his age like it was yesterday. Girls were at best to be tolerated, I never did believe that I’d ever be interested in them. Ok, so I was really wrong about that. But I was absolutely correct about Reggie Jackson in the ’78 series. He should have been out.

And now it is time to post about other things.

Baseball- The WSJ Balks

The Journal has a story called The Decline of the National League that really misses the mark. The writer makes the case that the National League is inferior to the American League and cites a number of stats that support that.

What bothers me about this piece is that it really falls flat. The writer spends a good amount of time explaining why he believes his assertion to be true and then finishes off with an acknowledgment that the game is cyclical.

Coincidentally I had a similar conversation with a rabid Sox fan who tried to convince me that the A.L. was so far superior that the N.L. should just give up. I suppose that this is one time where age serves me well. At 39 I remember well the dominance of the N.L.

Anyway, I’ll share a few pieces of the article with you.

“They play the same game. They pick from the same pool of players. For some reason, though, they don’t get the same results.

By just about every measure, the 16 teams in Major League Baseball’s National League are inferior to the 14 in the American League. The AL has won 11 of the last 16 World Series, including three of the last four. The annual All-Star Game, to be played Tuesday, has practically become a farce: Not counting a 2002 tie, the AL has won 10 straight.

Since baseball began interleague play in 1997 — where teams from the two leagues play a handful of regular-season games against each other — the AL is increasingly dominating. This year has been the second-most lopsided ever, with the AL winning 59% as of Thursday afternoon.

The plight of the NL seems rooted in a chain of events that began in 1973 when the AL adopted the designated-hitter rule — which allows for the pitchers to be replaced in the batting order by a full-time hitter who doesn’t play in the field. The disparity was spurred by new ballpark construction; an unprecedented crop of young power hitters who, for various reasons, almost all fell to the AL; a series of disastrous trades and free-agent signings by NL teams; and a tradition of innovation in the AL that began in the mid-1990s with the Oakland A’s.”

I’ll spare you my comments about how why I dislike the D.H. and instead share one more excerpt from the article.

“To be fair, baseball is cyclical. From 1963 to 1982, the NL won 19 of 20 All-Star Games and 12 of 20 World Series titles. John Schuerholz, president of the NL’s Atlanta Braves, says there’s no “magic dust” that gives the AL greater scouting intelligence. But for now, the record is not pretty. “I admit to that,” he says.”

Like I said, the article doesn’t really go anywhere. You start out with this song and dance about the decline of the N.L. and then finish with a comment about how the same thing happened to the A.L.

Whoops.