Thursday, September 20, 2007

Ask An Expert: A ball is hit sharply at a runner on third base. What should the baserunner do?

Expert Answer:

I will answer your question with a series of questions: Is the game being played in a dome? Are there fewer than two outs? Does the manager like to hit and run? How flexible is the baserunner in his midriff area? Is the baserunner's uniform made of a synthetic polymer? Additionally, this question presupposes that the baserunner does not bruise easily.

Here is how I envision the scenario: It is a night game, the ballpark lights use halo-reducing technology, the always-solid Jerry Layne is the third base umpire, Jose Reyes is dancing off third, and a barely-healthy Cole Hamels is pitching and has an Effective Pitch Count (EFE) of 27. Obviously, it is the third inning (EFE = inning * 9).
Reyes is taking a 90% lead, meaning if the pitcher threw over, he'd only be able to get back to third 9 out of 10 times. The hit and run is on, but David Wright misses the sign. The ball is hit right at Reyes with 80e velocity (where e = .001 seconds) down the third base line. Umpire Layne is watching (professional that he is) but 73% of his thoughts are dedicated to a former girlfriend of his that he'd seen on the subway while commuting to the game.

What should the Reyes do? Try to get out of the way but get hit anyway. There is no way for a human, even a Reyes human, to get out of the way of an 80e line drive if it is hit directly at Center Of Gravity (COG). Still, because Reyes is so fast, the ball merely glances off his thigh.

Under normal circumstances, a batted ball that hits a baserunner relegates the baserunner to the bench in the form of an out. But Reyes, being a smart ballplayer with a Measurable Baseball IQ (MBIQ) of over 203, has taken his lead in foul territory. Upon the batted ball's contact of Reyes' muscular thigh, Umpire Layne correctly signals a foul ball. When play is resumed, Umpire Layne resumes thinking about the auburn hair his ex was sporting. It flowed like vino la naranja.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Who bats cleanup: Hulk or Rick Ankiel?

This is old news, but Marvel Comics and Minor League Baseball teamed up to produce a special Marvel comic book that would only be available at 30 minor league ballparks. It sounds like a good idea and it would be nice to see The Incredible Hulk playing baseball and interacting with fans instead of what he's currently doing in the Marvel Universe, which is beating the holy hell out of every single super hero. What caught my eye was that there were three special covers created for specific cities, Memphis, Buffalo, and Durham. And on the Memphis cover, you have the Memphis Redbirds' mascot, Rockey the Rockin' Redbird, signing autographs for fans along with Marvel heroes Iron Man and the Incredible Hulk. But what's really interesting is that they are joined by Rick Ankiel. And if there was a player who deserved to have a comic book, I think Ankiel would be in the running. Former pitcher washes out and then, through a mystical event or scientific accident (or medical supplements), he comes back as a homerun hitting superstar.
Rick Ankiel, a budding pitching superstar, loses his control and washes out of the big leagues. To clear his head, he joins an archeological dig in Egpyt and uncovers an ancient Ankh, the symbol of life and immortality, which gives him super strength and reflexes. He hides the find from the other members of the dig and flies back to America to beg for a tryout from the cellar-dwelling Philadelphia Phillies. He uses his new powers, wearing the ankh underneath his uniform, to gain a starting position on the team and quickly leads them up the standings. However, the ancient egyptian gods have become displeased by the missing item and they take human form and create a path of destruction in their search for Ankiel. Eventually, Ankiel is forced to confront the gods and after proving himself in battle, they allow him to keep the symbol, as long as he devotes himself to fighting injustice. So, as he travels the country in the major leagues, he rights the wrongs caused by evildoers and leads the once hapless Phillies closer and closer to the World Series.
I wonder why more superheroes or, perhaps more importantly, super villains don't use their powers to excel in major league sports. Why waste time trying to break into banks or gaining world domination when you could be the greatest pitcher of all time? Some have, I guess. Boomerang had been a major league pitcher but was banned after accepting bribes, which lead him to a life of crime. Bullseye has an even better story, purposely beaning an opposing player and killing him after he grows bored with pitching a no-hitter, which gets him charged with manslaughter. The second Kangaroo, of the Legion of Losers, actually has the most realistic story, a super power who plays in the major leagues but is banned after his super powers are discovered.
I guess my whole point of this post is to suggest that perhaps Barry Bonds hasn't taken steroids but is simply a superhero who gained his powers in 1999 in some freak accident. And maybe the Pittsburgh Pirates should expose all their players to gamma radiation in the hopes of fielding a team of Incredible Hulks.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Human Tetris

Human Tetris:

Monday, September 17, 2007

Go Grandy Go

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Q: If you had to wear a sports jersey...

...which player's jersey would you choose?

A week ago, I set out to perform a scientific study: I noted every sports jersey I saw, as well as the race of the person wearing the jersey.

Hypothesis: The majority of sports fans who deign to wear a sports jersey select, subconsciously or not, a jersey of a player of their own race.

Here is the data:

9/2 Payton Manning worn by African-American male
9/3 Jeremy Shockey worn by African-American male
9/3 Donovan Jamal McNabb worn by Asian-American male
9/5 Kurt Warner worn by African-American male
9/7 Dominique Wilkins worn by African-American male
9/8 Michael Owen worn by Caucasian male
9/9 LeBron James worn by Caucasian male
9/9 Stephan Marbury worn by African-American male
9/9 Kobe Bryant worn by African-American female
9/9 Jose Reyes worn by Caucasian male
9/10 Alex Rodriguez worn by Caucasian male
9/10 Alex Rodriguez worn by Caucasian male
9/10 Alex Rodriguez worn by Caucasian male
9/10 "Rothman" Yankee jersey worn by Caucasian male

Result: Nine of thirteen jersey wearers, or 69%, chose to wear jerseys of players not of their own race. As the scientists like to say, it seems there is no correlation between athlete race and jersey wearer race. If I better understood the definition of correlated, I could tell you if athlete race being different than jersey wearer race is correlated.

Note: This is merely a preliminary report. I will continue to collect data throughout the football season.

Note: For the purpose of this study, Derek Jeter will be considered African-American, even though statistically speaking he is, at most, 50% African-American.

A: And to answer the question I pose in the title, I think I would wear a Jose Reyes jersey. Or maybe an old Rickey Henderson Yankee jersey. I can also see myself wearing an Igawa jersey. For football, I'd wear a Brandon Jacobs jersey (I hope his knee is okay) or an Eli jersey (I hope his shoulder is okay). For the record, I also like the 5'6" Darren Sproles, but I would not buy his jersey yet. (Is there a such thing as a Tiger Woods jersey? I feel myself strangely compelled to love him. I watched two hours of golf today just to see him win...I can't think of another athlete that I would give that amount of time to). Musa would wear a Barry Sanders jersey. And Anson would wear a Vince Young jersey.