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Change-Up Your Perspective on Pitching, Hitting and Running
am 1. Juli 2000
When I was a teenager, I did a science fair project looking at statistical analyses of baseball games to help understand how one could improve the strategy of the game from a general manager's perspective. In The 2,000 Percent Solution, I wrote about the potential levels of perfection for a baseball team. So I have long been hooked on what measurement could add to my understanding of baseball. What a pleasant surprise it was when I discovered this fine book that used measurements and analyses to go even further!
Whenever I listen to former Big Leaguers talk about baseball on television, I get lost by half of what they say. While I can see fast balls falling on the way to the plate, the broadcasters are describing a "rising" fast ball. Suddenly, the ball moves strangely, and they refer knowledgeably to the pitcher throwing a "splitter." Then a knuckle ball pitcher comes in, and the catcher can't seem to ever control the ball because there is little spin. Why is that happening? What's going on here?
If you have ever wondered about questions like these, The Physics of Baseball will fill you in and actually give you the ability to amaze others with your precise explanations why the unexpected is either perceived to be happening or is actually happening.
When I was a teenager, baseball games usually lasted about 2 hours. Now, they are much longer. This book gives you a way to take advantage of that, by giving you more interesting things to talk about during the prolonged games.
The author also takes on the many controversies of recent years, such as corked bats, scuffed balls, and extra pine tar on the bat. Although he did not have the resources or information to definitively answer some questions, his educated guesses are probably good enough for now.
If you don't really want to understand physics, you can mainly focus on the graphs and illustrations that simply show the conclusions of Professor Adair's analyses. That simpler approach makes the book a much quicker and more exciting read.
Physics is not my favorite subject, but I was impressed by how much this book was able to add to my understanding and potential enjoyment of watching a baseball game. I think it will probably do the same for you.
Although he is a professor, the author has the humility to consider whatever the players talk about as a potentially important subject. One of the most interesting topics is an evalutation of why Babe Ruth used a bat that was both longer and heavier than any modern slugger would ever consider using. There are also references to "juiced balls" and playing baseball in Denver, and what the impact might be on home runs and a pitcher's e.r.a.
Coauthor of The Irresistible Growth Enterprise and The 2,000 Percent Solution