The Physics of the Bunt

Bill James’ explanation was straight and to the point during his NPR interview on September 26, 2011.  “Bunting is usually a waste of time…The home team applauds because they get an out, and the other team applauds because they get a base. So what does that tell you?”  The pages of FanGraphs and The Hardball […]

The Physics of a Foul Down the Line

It hasn’t been a well-played game, but it has been fun to watch. The lead has gone back and forth, but now in the bottom of the ninth your boys are down by a couple of runs. In keeping with the theme of this contest, they have managed to load the bases with two out. […]

The True Origins of Baseball (Scientifically Speaking)

We all know the outlines of the tall tale … baseball was invented by Abner Doubleday in Cooperstown, New York in 1839. To this day, people argue over the true origins of the game. Some trace its roots to the late 1700s in New England, while others claim it is a variation of the British […]

The Physics of the Cutoff

The runner at second has a modest lead as the batter strokes a single through the right side.  The hard-charging outfielder scoops up the ball and unleashes a cannon shot.  The runner has turned third and is digging for home.  A smile comes to the face of the batter as he rounds first to see […]

The Physics of the Curveball – A Short History

The charm of the National Pastime is in part due to the myths it inspires, from the creation story of Abner Doubleday, to the beginnings of the curveball and William Cummings. “Candy” Cummings claimed to have invented the curve in 1863 after noticing thrown clam shells bobbed and dipped in flight. What a delightful story! […]

The Physics of the Pitcher’s Padded Cap

The history of head injuries to pitchers is pretty gruesome.  Despite this long record, it was not until recently that MLB approved optional padded cap for pitchers.  It isn’t rocket science, so it would not surprise me to learn that even our ancient simian relatives knew that padding reduces injuries.  However, the fundamental physics of […]

It’s Game Time

Baseball is unusual as team sports go.  For example, the limit lines are in play, not out of bounds.  The defense, not the offense, has the ball.  Finally, and in my view, the most distinguishing feature is the lack of a clock.  Some claim that baseball is freed from the tyranny of time, yet from […]