Monday, August 27, 2012

The Speed of a Fastball

There's a lot of weird things about baseball, not necessarily the game itself, but the way it's analyzed and recorded.  For instance, announcers on radio and television and the radar machine at the ballpark are enthusiastic about informing us that a pitch sailed over the plate at an impressive 96 mph.  Or that a lazy knuckleball floated by the batter at a leisurely 82 mph.  Who can know what that means?  I'll give a hundred dollar bill to anybody except a trained surveyor that can walk through the woods for what they consider a mile if they're within a hundred feet of the correct distance.  Attempting to transfer the experience of being in a car going that fast to the movement of a small white ball is impossible.  And you'll note that the form of measurement is used for only a pitched baseball and a served tennis ball, nothing else in sports.

Let me be the first to recommend that the mph designation as applied to baseball be scrapped in favor of something that's more recognizable to the average person, feet per second.  After all, the distance from the pitcher's rubber to home plate is measured in feet and inches (60 feet, six inches), not in miles (.01145).  A fastball at the top speed of the hardest thrower in the league might approach 100 mph, or 147 feet per second, which means that it can be easily determined that the ball will arrive at home plate less than half a second after it's released by the pitcher.  A slow curve that used to lag along at a slothly 85 mph is covering 125 feet per second.  Not only is the speed more easily comprehended, the use of fps is more exact, since the increments are smaller.  And percentages are easier to figure.  The fastball is almost 20% faster than the curve.   Please demand that announcers convert their speed figures to fps.

1 comment:

wintercow20 said...

The great Sidd Finch was thought to throw pitches at over 200 feet per second. I was 10 or 11 when the story came out and bought it hook, line and sinker.

Excellent post. We could launch into a discussion of highways speeds too, but it's the weekend and I prefer to think happy thoughts.