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## 5000 fps Camera Reveals the Physics of Baseball144

concealment sends this quote from an article at The Physics of Baseball "This clip from Game 4 shows Marco Scutaro hitting the ball right near the tip of the barrel. The amplitude of the resulting vibration is so large that the bat breaks and the ball weakly dribbles off the bat. Note that the bat splinters toward the pitcher. The reason is that when the ball hits the barrel tip, the barrel of the bat bends backward toward the catcher and the center of the bat bulges forward toward the pitcher. That is the natural shape of the fundamental vibrational mode of the bat. Since the fracture occurs near the center which is bulging outward, that is how the bat splinters, as the wood fibers on the pitcher side of the bat are stretched to the breaking point. If the ball had impacted the bat near the center, the center would have bulged toward the catcher, as in the Yadier Molina clip. Had the vibrational amplitude been strong enough in the Molina case, the bat would have splintered toward the catcher."
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## 5000 fps Camera Reveals the Physics of Baseball

• #### Re:Isn't the game long enough already? (Score:5, Interesting)

on Monday October 22, 2012 @09:39AM (#41727961)

Just as long? Show me a five day game of baseball that ends in a draw. And if you are going to count "best of X playoff" multiple games as a single game, then cricket has the 5 test series, for 25 days of playing also ending in a draw.

• #### Re:Wow, look! Stuff I don't care care about... (Score:4, Interesting)

on Monday October 22, 2012 @09:56AM (#41728111) Journal
Yup - if you've ever wondered how the whole "breaking concrete with your fist" thing works this is a good example. If the impact is hard enough the concrete (bat) takes most of the energy and converts it into heat and breaking electromagnetic bonds (AKA 'breaking'), so the ball falls away limply or your fist doesn't break. Hit it in the wrong place though, and the ball takes all the energy (home run) or your fist does (hospital run).
• #### Re:Wow, look! Stuff I don't care care about... (Score:4, Interesting)

on Monday October 22, 2012 @10:37AM (#41728501) Journal
There's more to it than just chemical bonds, it has a lot to do with how the internal structure distributes the energy from an impact. Concrete without reenforcing is brittle, a surprisingly short length supported at each end will snap under its own weight. Wood is fibrous, it's much easier to split in one direction than the other, the fibers give wood a much greater ability to deform than concrete. Notice that none of the strongman stunts use plywood, cross-laminated timber doesn't split easily in any direction, structurally it's much stronger than either non-reenforced concrete or ordinary timber.
• #### Re:Isn't the game long enough already? (Score:2, Interesting)

on Monday October 22, 2012 @11:49AM (#41729273)

Nothing is equal.
Put 2 5lb bags of sugar on a scale.
One of them is heavier. Just because you do not want to invest in a scale that can tell the difference does not make them equal.
The truth is when you get to the level of professional athletes they are all so good you could just call them equal. We do not though.
We test them. A test which shows them as equal is a failed test.

• #### This isnt science or revealing. (Score:5, Interesting)

on Monday October 22, 2012 @12:13PM (#41729617)
Not only is a variable being ignored its nearly the central reason for all the hoopla in this story. For all the millions of dollars wasted on major league players you would think that holding the main tool of the game properly would be a given but its not. Old timers from the dawn days of baseball knew this but it seems to have been forgotten sometime in the past 50 years. If these yahoos that call themselves pros really wanted to pound the ball they would learn how to hold the damn bat properly and not in such a way that it flexes excessively or breaks, both of which is an incomplete transference of the energy from batter to ball. The bat has a grain like all wood and this grain runs along the side of the bat at 90 degrees to the label. Holding the bat with the label up or down causes this area of bat to be the main contact area. "With the grain" the bat is much stronger and stiffer transferring more of the batters' energy to the ball and of course flying further. "Across the grain" the wood is weaker and more likely to flex or break as the fibers deform. No one has ever broken a bat "with the grain." In the bat breaking sequence you can clearly see the label is nearly square on to the direction of the pitch. The other vids aren't as easy to see the orientation of the bat but the excessive flex is telling. This "researcher" needs to find a player who knows how to hold the bat properly and repeat said observations. Then he will discover what the old timers who played in cornfields knew a century ago.
• #### Re:Isn't the game long enough already? (Score:5, Interesting)

on Monday October 22, 2012 @12:18PM (#41729699)

As someone who played soccer/football in children and youth leagues and then later officiated the sport for several years, I have to say that I find it boring to watch skilled players on TV or from the stands. And it's not for lack of action, since there is plenty of that. The problem with it is one of pacing and difficulty in appreciating what's going on.

The athleticism and skill on display can be incredible in the sport, and when you're close to the action, it's fun to watch. But when you're up in high the grandstands or watching a zoomed out view on TV (which are the only ways most Americans have ever seen it), you can't appreciate the footwork that's being done, which is what makes the game so compelling to watch on a minute-to-minute basis. That leaves you with just the bigger plays, like breakaways, and the game doesn't hold up so well at that level when it comes to entertainment value. It basically boils down to sustained action for extended periods of time, interspersed by highlight-reel plays that are difficult to see, with very little of it actually amounting to anything. And with the ball changing sides so often, it's difficult to have a sense of when you'll see some hard pressure being applied or something important will happen. That's poorly paced as a source of entertainment and rather tiring to watch, kinda like a suspense movie that sustains the suspense for too long instead of raising and lowering it.

I have similar problems with watching hockey, but at least hockey has people smashing into each other regularly, which has an appeal as a darker form of entertainment (i.e. the same thing that draws NASCAR viewers...which I still don't understand). That's also a mark against soccer/football, since its players are oftentimes prima donnas that fall over in an unsportsmanlike manner at the slightest touch. No one likes seeing that.

Baseball has some similar issues as well, though it does have some advantages. It's easy to nerd-out on baseball since there are loads of statistics that actually matter and can make it far more interesting for those who are so-inclined. And as you get more runners on the bases, the tension steadily mounts, oftentimes culminating in a series of entertaining plays, with its natural breaks giving you time to read the situation and figure out where you should be looking for those plays. Of course, as the game reaches its end, you usually already know who the winner will be well in advance, thus undermining its enjoyment, and those highlight-reel plays are easy to miss for people who aren't as familiar with the sport, while much of the rest of the game is rather rote and boring.

In contrast, while I'm not an American football fan, I do appreciate it as being a well-crafted form of entertainment. The entire game is structured so that it has rising and falling tension, regular opportunity for highlight-reel plays that happen at prescribed times and can be easily understood from a distance, natural breaks that allow you time to appreciate the players' tactical positioning and movement, and a sense of progression as the play methodically moves back and forth on the field in a massive game of tug-of-war. It's a game that you can go pretty deep into thought on, as strange as that might seem for such a brutish sport.

Long story short, I do think that some games are inherently more entertaining than others, but I don't think that in any way establishes them as being superior. Personally speaking, while I'm not a fan of any of the sports I discussed, I'd rather go to a baseball game than the others, simply on account of the ambiance that is present at those games and the fact that there tends to be a stronger sense of good sportsmanship as a result of it being "America's pastime". The games tend to be laid back social outings, as opposed to the higher-energy (and sometimes downright aggressive) crowds you have in those other sports. My enjoyment of it is independent of the game's entertainment value.

"If it's not loud, it doesn't work!" -- Blank Reg, from "Max Headroom"

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