A Long, Joyous Weekend

Jul 05 2011 Published by under [Physical Science], Sports

I spent the weekend in a mediocre motel in Salina, Kansas, where customer service ranked very low on the staff's priority list. Our sacrifice in comfort was rewarded by a first-place finish in the Kansas Grand Slam Wood Bat Tournament.

My sprog has his right hand on the plaque; if you click and embiggen, you can see the skanky mustache he grew for the event.

Anyone who knows a true baseball fan realizes that our national pastime is a game of numbers. Numbers can generate statistics, and this tourney posted every possible individual and team stat on their site by sundown yesterday. Of course, other numbers can be used as well.

Why have a wooden bat tournament anyway? It provides an opportunity for these kids to get a taste of the majors. Most of the time, younger players through the College World Series use aluminum bats. While their up-front cost is more, they do not break the way wooden bats do, so their cost will be less over a season for a team. The aluminum bat also has a larger sweet spot, the portion of the barrel where the transfer of force between bat and ball provides no stinging sensation in the hands. The metal bat is lighter, so bat-speed can be faster, but the force generated with a heavier bat could be advantageous for larger players.

Yup, we have physics! Now, physics was never my strong suit. Like most mathematical things, I could do it easily, but I found the whole thing boring. I will not explain the physics of baseball, but I can refer you to a site that does it eloquently. The web page provides experiments that can be done with baseball equipment, and it links to other sites as well. Also recommended (if a bit pricy) is The Physics of Baseball and Softball, published in hardback this spring.

Play ball and science!

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