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Baseball Mythbusters


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Don't know if anybody else knew about it, but tonight's Mythbusters show on Discovery channel was all about baseball myths. Roger Clemens even guest-starred on it. Don't want to spoil things but they had cork bats, humid balls, sliding into base, and knocking the cover off a ball. Very interesting stuff.

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Without looking at the TV listings, I'd guess this would replay later tonight. Most of the Discovery programs seem to be in a three hour rotation at night.
"His whole life is a fantasy camp. People should plunk down $2000 to live like him for a week. Sleep, do nothing, fall ass-backwards into money, mooch food off your neighbors and have sex without dating... THAT'S a fantasy camp."
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After looking at DirecTV's online listings, they indicate this show will re-air at midnight central time.
"His whole life is a fantasy camp. People should plunk down $2000 to live like him for a week. Sleep, do nothing, fall ass-backwards into money, mooch food off your neighbors and have sex without dating... THAT'S a fantasy camp."
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Good stuff. Just watched it, normally I'm not a fan of that show but maybe I'll have to start watching some more episodes.

 

As for the corked bat. Let's just say it was stupid of Sosa to use a corked bat in the first place and if he's watching this he'll feel even dumber about trying to put on a show in batting practice with it.

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I wish they'd have done the base times with the guy running through the base instead of stopping on it. I'd think most people would agree sliding into second/third is more effective than trying to get there standing up.
"When a piano falls on Yadier Molina get back to me, four letter." - Me, upon reading a ESPN update referencing the 'injury-plagued Cardinals'
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I have always heard that a corked bat would be better for singles hitters than they would be for power hitters.

 

Yeah they had one guy swing a bat as hard as he could (62 mph) and an 80 mph pitch. They built this whole fancy machine so it would stay at 62 and 80 mph's respectively and then used a corked and uncorked bat and the ball travelled half as slow using the corked bat.
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I wish they'd have done the base times with the guy running through the base instead of stopping on it. I'd think most people would agree sliding into second/third is more effective than trying to get there standing up.

 

I also think most people would agree that running through the base at full speed would be faster than sliding in.http://static.yuku.com/v2//domainskins/bypass/img/smileys/wink.gif

 

I understand why they did that. Like when you're going for a double you'd probably want to know if it's faster to slow down and then stand on the base is faster than sliding.

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ball travelled half as slow using the corked bat.

Doesn't "half as slow" = "twice as fast"?

"Dustin Pedroia doesn't have the strength or bat speed to hit major-league pitching consistently, and he has no power......He probably has a future as a backup infielder if he can stop rolling over to third base and shortstop." Keith Law, 2006
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Brewer Fanatic Contributor
Way off topic, did anyone see the mythbusters about the fastest way to chill a can of beer? That was a good one.

Ice + water + salt was the winner. I had to try that one out 54 times.

Actually, using a fire extinguisher was the winner (less than 2 minutes), but the cost of refilling an extinguisher is pretty high (50 or more dollars, I think). That made salty ice water the quickest cost-effective option.

 

Chris

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"I guess underrated pitchers with bad goatees are the new market inefficiency." -- SRB

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I always understood the purpose of a corked bat to be that you could have a bat that performs like a certain weight but swings like a lighter bat - I guess it makes sense that it would not transfer as much energy into the ball, but I would think that doesn't necessarily negate its value completely.

 

 

Sidenote - anyone see on BBTN when Buck Showalter (during his short stay on the show) did a segment on corked bats and actually had a prepared video from a wood shop where he made one? Kinda cool. I remember him ending it with "So, that's how you cork a bat . . . . just don't do it." Heh.

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The easiest way i can explain it is think of a wood bat versues a wiffle bat. Yes you can swing it faster, but with its less mass and hollow core the absorbtion of energy is greater then the transfer of energy.
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Why did they keep the swing speed constant? That's not a good model of how a corked bat will react to the forces a batter puts on it.

 

The batter can apply more force to the bat when it is lighter. Since F = mV^2, they would have to figure out if the loss in mass (the corked bat) is more than made up for in the velocity of the swing (the batter swinging a lighter bat) squared. If a batter swings a corked bat the same speed the ball will of course not travel as far since less force has been applied. However, if the batter can apply more velocity (rotational velocity in this case) to the bat than square root of mass removed then they have created more force. And since velocity is squared here, the ability to add slightly more velocity will probably make up for the mass removed, since the velocity is quadratic. In short, doing an experiment where the velocity isn't improved when a corked bat is used is silly and misleading. Of course if you remove mass and keep the velocity constant the force is lowered. But the gain in velocity doesn't even have to be proportional to the mass removed for a corked bat to give an advantage.

 

Another thing to consider: When cork is used as filler in the bat, it acts as a cushion. That is it is softer than solid wood. So when a bat makes contact with a ball the wood might have a tendency to flex more inside and then push back out (Newton's first law). Sort of like how some golf clubs work. It creates a "spring" like effect off the bat. However, I'm not sure if this is fact. The ball is probably quite softer than the shell of the bat and the ball probably is the only thing that squishes together significantly.

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But isn't the purpose of the cork/superball to fill the space previously occupied by the wood with a less dense material that will provide similar characteristics, thus minimizing energy transfer loss but producing a lighter bat (and higher swing speeds)?

 

If the Mythbusters did a test with swing speed constant I could see the results showing a corked bat being worse, but if they didn't account for an increase in swing speed with a player using a lighter bat, the test may not be fully accurate.

 

Disclaimer: I didn't see the show.

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Why did they keep the swing speed constant? That's not a good model of how a corked bat will react to the forces a batter puts on it.

 

The batter can apply more force to the bat when it is lighter. Since F = mV^2, they would have to figure out if the loss in mass (the corked bat) is more than made up for in the velocity of the swing (the batter swinging a lighter bat) squared. If a batter swings a corked bat the same speed the ball will of course not travel as far since less force has been applied. However, if the batter can apply more velocity (rotational velocity in this case) to the bat than square root of mass removed then they have created more force. And since velocity is squared here, the ability to add slightly more velocity will probably make up for the mass removed, since the velocity is quadratic. In short, doing an experiment where the velocity isn't improved when a corked bat is used is silly and misleading. Of course if you remove mass and keep the velocity constant the force is lowered. But the gain in velocity doesn't even have to be proportional to the mass removed for a corked bat to give an advantage.

 

Another thing to consider: When cork is used as filler in the bat, it acts as a cushion. That is it is softer than solid wood. So when a bat makes contact with a ball the wood might have a tendency to flex more inside and then push back out (Newton's first law). Sort of like how some golf clubs work. It creates a "spring" like effect off the bat. However, I'm not sure if this is fact. The ball is probably quite softer than the shell of the bat and the ball probably is the only thing that squishes together significantly.

Yeah, you explained this way better than I.

As for the "trampoline" effect, a la aluminum bats, I've always heard that it was a myth with corked wood bats. I have zero data to back that up.

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But isn't the purpose of the cork/superball to fill the space previously occupied by the wood with a less dense material that will provide similar characteristics, thus minimizing energy transfer loss but producing a lighter bat (and higher swing speeds)?

 

If the Mythbusters did a test with swing speed constant I could see the results showing a corked bat being worse, but if they didn't account for an increase in swing speed with a player using a lighter bat, the test may not be fully accurate.

 

Disclaimer: I didn't see the show.

You're 100% correct. Constant V in F= mV^2 is silly. Because the whole purpose of corking a bat is to improve V. And since V is squared in the equation, putting more into V will result in more F with a disproportionate amount of m removed.

The real experiment is to hit one with m and V. Then remove wood from the bat and cork it and figure out how much less m there is. Then it's very easy to figure out how much V is needed to achieve the same force as before (sqRoot[F/m] = V) . Then reason if it is possible for someone to be able to swing a bat faster than that when corked to achieve better results. In fact, doing a exhibition experiment to test this is stupid. It's much easier to figure this simple thing out on paper. The hardest part is converting ounces to grams and swing speeds from MPH to KPH and then back so Americans like us can understand it. http://forum.brewerfan.net/images/smilies/smile.gif

 

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I believe that the velocity of the bat was different between the two bats in the test. They kept the force exerted on the bat (swinging force) the same. In other words it was as if you took a normal bat, swung it as hard as you could and then exerted the same force upon a corked bat. The corked bat's velocity would increase if the same force as the swing with the usual bat was used. Either way, they did a poor job explaining the test.
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this episode wasn't that great. Their lack of baseball expertise was too glaring, which led to some mistakes (imo) in methodology. The only test that seemed even close to valid was the one they did with the humid baseballs. Even that was messed up when they didn't use a control for the bouncing portion of it though.
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Again V isnt the problem with the formula, the transfer of energy is. How muc doesnt the cork absord the energy instead of transfering it.

 

As for the same speed, a better control that could have been introduced is a bat the weights the same as the bat does after its been corked. IE if the bat was 32oz then down to 30oz after being corked, you control could be both a 32oz and 30oz, that was you can see what the difference would be between corking or just using a lighter bat.

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Since the majority of the cork will be in places off the sweet spot and will be deep enough into the core of the bat at the sweet spot, I'm not sure it's going to matter much in terms of density...if that's what you're referring to. The shell of the bat is the same and for at least a half inch in diameter around the bat. So any effect of it being softer and thus absorbing more energy are probably insignificant.

 

Now a bat made of solid cork of course would suck because it would be so soft. But since a corked bat still has a sufficiently hard wood shell, I'm not sure the cork inside matters at all in terms of loss of energy transfer. Cork isn't going to absorb so much more relevant energy at this time anyways as the further from the bat surface you go the less it matters. Plus the cork has hard wood on all sides of it so if energy were to come into it, you would imagine it would then spring off the other side since it's hard wood there and bounce back.

 

You're essentially talking about the loss of mass, which is m in the equation. And since V is squared, any rise in V could very well create more force for a loss in m.

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If you have a problem with their methods write in to them on the discovery website. They often revisit myths when enough people write in saying they did something wrong. They often get things wrong and the experiment comes out different.

Fan is short for fanatic.

I blame Wang.

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If you have a problem with their methods write in to them on the discovery website. They often revisit myths when enough people write in saying they did something wrong. They often get things wrong and the experiment comes out different.

 

Yes, that's true, but I think that their methodology is often lackluster, so I don't know what writing in to say that would accomplish. I still love the show, it just seems like they could do a little better on some of the more mundane myths. Those types (as opposed to "Medieval Chinese Astronaut" and things like that) are crying out for the scientific method to be applied more rigorously. I guess that may not make as interesting a show though.
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