Follow Mumbling Jack, my new blog

  • Spin - Whenever light is dim, there is always The sound of crows confabulating. Mornings are different from evenings only By old accidents of spin direction. If a...
    1 week ago

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Breaking Pitches, Corked Bats, Etc

Kind of an interesting article, but what's best about it are these illustrations of the grips for various pitches.

As for corked bats (remember the Sammy Sosa drama a few years ago?), Allen Nathan's Physics of Baseball page points out that a corked bat actually slightly reduces rather than increases the distance that a ball hit with it travels. I'm gonna try to paraphrase something he said:

Okay, so you drill a couple ounces of wood out of the barrel of a bat and fill the hole with cork or whatever. So now you've got a slightly lighter bat, plus its balance has moved closer to the knob, meaning you can swing it slightly faster or you can have more control over the barrel.

So now you're thinking, "more bat speed = more velocity at impact with baseball = more travel distance."

Not so fast, pal.

Problem is, drilling out the bat and moving its centre of gravity closer to the handle means the bat now has less mass (or weight) in the barrel and therefore less energy in the barrel. Where's the impact point? On the barrel. So what you've actually done is reduce the amount of energy that is available to to be transferred to the ball at impact. So what you have is, reduced energy = reduced ball velocity = reduced distance = fly out to the warning track instead of a double off the wall in the gap.

About all a corked bat is good for is to allow you to wait longer on a pitch and/or allow you to choose a particular angle of impact if you want to try to bloop a single over an infielder's head. But weakly hit, shallow fly balls don't win many ball games — they're mostly caught for outs. A corked bat's reduced mass might help deaden a bunt. Corked bats are more likely to help the "small ball" game than the "big fly" game.

A real good (but dry) book that covers these things and more is Robert K. Adair's The Physics of Baseball. I gave my copy away a couple of years ago. I miss it.


Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Saturday, August 27, 2005

The Haw Lantern (a Seamus Heaney poem)

this is an audio post - click to play


The Haw Lantern

The wintry haw is burning out of season,
crab of the thorn, a small light for small people,
wanting no more from them but that they keep
the wick of self-respect from dying out,
not having to blind them with illumination.

But sometimes when your breath plumes in the frost
it takes the roaming shape of Diogenes
with his lantern, seeking one just man;
so you end up scrutinized from behind the haw
he holds up at eye-level on its twig,
and you flinch before its bonded pith and stone,
its blood-prick that you wish would test and clear you,
its pecked-at ripeness that scans you, then moves on.

This is good shit, my friends. When the exhalation of breath metamorphoses into Diogenes, the poem itself changes shape, inverts, and at the same time turns you inside-out. And, where before you were looking coolly out at an abstraction, an idea of others, you are now looking inward.

At this link, apparently, is a version of the poem in process.

Friday, August 26, 2005

28 Years Later


On the day this photo was taken in 1977 I had some bone chips floating around my elbow after wiping out on my bike. I refused to take the sling off for the school picture.


One morning this summer about 3 am I just wanted to hop on my bike and get home after work to catch up on the baseball scores, but some folks who'd been celebrating a birthday in the bar all evening decided I needed my picture taken. Though it was a rare non-plaid day, I relented.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Emily-at-Large, Etc

This morning the front page of The Hardball Times includes a link to the anti-depressant Emily. Also over there, Dave Studeman's Ten Things I Didn't Know Last Week column pointed me to Death By Caffeine. Apparently it would take 114.28 cups of brewed coffee to kill me.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Economics: Scanner Vs Beans

Below can be seen what is left of the coffee beans I traded for the scanner. Oddly, the scanner has yet to shrink in volume.


An Account of a Pitcher's Duel

BatGirl just keeps getting better:

...It wasn't the post-season, but it felt like it. Johan didn't have a no-hitter, but it felt like it. And Freddy Garcia, well, he did have a no-hitter—and boy it felt like it. Every batter, the oppressiveness of that big goose egg in the box score seemed to grow.

You could see it in the Twins at bats--as the game went on, they got more careless, more anxious, more like the free swinging spaz monkeys of yore. In the 7th inning, our three, four, and five guys took about 12 seconds to get through the Twins' half of the inning, and most of that time was taken up by LeCroy running to first on his grounder....

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Emily Six

Been a couple of months since I did an Emily Dickinson and Wikipedia post, but I have little to do today so I've been lazing through my copy of the Complete poems (they can be found online here).

875

I stepped from Plank to Plank
A slow and cautious way
The Stars about my Head I felt
About my Feet the Sea.

I knew not but the next
Would be my final inch
This gave me that precarious Gait
Some call Experience.
In that first line she probably was not referring to the plank roads I've linked to; more likely the metaphor was to be a house's unfinished flooring, or a dilapidated dock or foot bridge. In the last line I'm almost certain she was leaning in this direction and that she would have been pleased with the Rumanian proverb quoted at the bottom of that page:
Only the foolish learn from experience — the wise learn from the experience of others.

937

I felt a Cleaving in my Mind
As if my Brain had split —
I tried to match it — Seam by Seam
But could not make it fit.

The thought behind, I strove to join
Unto the thought before —
But Sequence ravelled out of Sound
Like Balls — upon a Floor.
I recommend reading and/or listening to the entire 2003 Reith Lecture series I linked to in the last line of the first stanza. Sweet stuff.

Previous Emily posts: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Worldometers

I don't know how accurate the figures on this page are (just found it), but they're fascinating.

Friday, August 19, 2005

The More Things Change,

The more they stay the same. Here are three ancient Egyptian poems from the World poetry anthology. You know, poetry hasn't really gotten any better in the last 3,000 years.




More Books

Below are some of the books I'm picking at this week.





Street Paintings

My very first StumbleUpon click today took me to this page of street paintings. Enjoy.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Process

The other day I was lucky enough to trade a couple of pounds of a fine 4-bean espresso blend for a scanner, so I've been scanning things like the book covers, etc, in the previous post.

Something that constantly fascinates me when I look back through my notebooks are the small cumulative changes in various drafts of poems. So today I scanned some drafts of a poem from one of last year's notebooks. Below those images is the poem as it reads today.

note: click on images to enlarge








A Resolution (from the shrapnel of April)

To raise in May the willow’s froth of green
And the magnolia’s white white shatter

To ponder how your hands draw me (as the sun

Draws tulip shoots, forget-me-nots)

To hear close unseen, heavy wings

In the stir of light on water

Will we whisper under the spring-thin moon?
Will we whistle and lament?

I’ll unclench my hands for your sweet eyes,

I'll scald my tongue on you.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Poetry and Smokes

The first two images below are two of the best books of poetry I've found in the last five years. And at the bottom is what I smoke while I'm reading them.