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CNET News Video: The physics of baseball
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CNET News Video: The physics of baseball

3:41 /

There's some real science to throwing a ball and knocking it out of the park. CNET News.com's Kara Tsuboi spoke with players from the Oakland Athletics about throwing and hitting, and to a scientist who confirmed that yes indeed, they'd play better if they had paid attention to their physics class.

[ Music ] ^M00:00:03 >> Hey there, I'm Kara Tsuboi [phonetic], CNET news.com. >> When it comes to baseball, there's a lot more going on then just see the ball, hit the ball. There's some real physics behind the way a pitcher throws, or a batter bats. >> We've got all the science broken down for you. ^M00:00:15 [ Music ] ^M00:00:19 >> It's not easy hitting, [inaudible], it's moving pretty fast, and the fast balls at this level are never straight, either sinking or cut. >> And so you just got to pick one pitcher [assumed spelling], and hopefully he throws [inaudible]. >> Connecting with that ball on the right part of your bat, known as the sweet [assumed spelling] spot can make the difference between winning and losing the game. >> Can you show us on your bat like where you want to hit the ball like? >> I want to hit the ball in this area right here. >> And it's like, seriously like a two-inch range for you? >> Probably, yeah, with the wood bat. >> And that could send it over the fence? >> Yeah. >> Hopefully? >> Hopefully? >> To find that sweet spot, scientist Paul Doherty from San Francisco's Exploratorium, says he first came to identify the point of mass on the bat. >> And if you can just put both hands under a baseball bat and move them together, they will automatically end up right under what physicists call the center of mass. And that's the center of mass [inaudible] the balance point. On this bat, it's just below the label. >> Hitting the ball at the tip of the bat, or too close to the handle could give you a blue [inaudible], and seriously sting your hands. >> Here's the sweet spot. Here it goes, three, two, one, that handle just drops straight down, what that mean is that in your hands, it doesn't jump forward or back, it just feels smooth when you hit the ball. >> I'd say that's the sweetest spots, some of the bigger hitters can miss that spot by a little bit and still get it over the fence. But that's a not very big, there's not a lot of room for error. >> Mechanics are huge, but some people think either you have them or you don't have them, you know. But you can definitely, throughout my career, this is my seventh year now in the Major Leagues, and I've done some things with my mechanics, you know, not every year, my best years was when I settled on something in Spring Training and stuck with it the whole year. >> Players and coachers alike, however will tell you that over analyzing the mechanics of hitting can also get you in trouble. >> You can get a little too analytical sometimes. >> A lot of people say some of the best hitters are the dumbest hitters. I don't know if that's necessarily true. >> When it comes to pitching, there's equally complex physics involved with the trajectory, release, spin and velocity of the ball. >> I'm thinking about putting this rotation on it to get that movement, like I'll put a little bit more pressure on my index finger to get it moved [inaudible] my arm side a little bit more. My middle finger to get it moved. My glove side, and, you know, with change ups and curve balls, we really focus on letting the grip do the work, and not slowing your arm down, but letting the rotation slow the ball down. >> Action and reaction in physic says, when you throw air down, the ball gets thrown up, so you can make an arising fastball. You can make a curve ball based on how you spin the ball. >> A major league baseball weighs exactly five ounces, and has precisely 216 stitches. Stitches that can make the difference between a curve, slide [assumed spelling] or fastball or side arm pitch. >> As the ball is spinning, the seams [assumed spelling] interact with the air around the ball. As this one spins, one seam, two seams, as it travels. If I were to do it this way, I've got one, two, three, four seams as it spins. >> Oakland athletics pitcher Lenny DiNardo [phonetic] say's in the moment, you have little time to think about these mechanics, and are focused on one thing and one thing only, getting an out. >> It's all about timing and trying [inaudible] to mess up their timing, get them a little bit out front, a little bit behind it to get the ball up in the air or on the ground. >> Clearly a lot more going on in the game of baseball then meets the eye. >> If they pay attention in their physics class, they'd be better. >> I'm Kara Tsuboi, CNET news.com. ^M00:03:36 [ Music ]

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