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You mean to tell me Jesus Christ can't hit a curveball?


Moose Milligan

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To me, this only explains why a curveball is hard to hit.

I don't think so, because if you notice the experiment involves looking away from the ball as it moves, which would make sense if it really WAS an illusion to someone watching.

Someone trying to hit the ball is going to be watching the pitch as it comes in, so it shouldn't really fool them anymore than the break already does.

At least that's what it seems to me.

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Back when the O's were still good all the time, there was a magazine called Science Magazine, and they did a formal investigation of what a curveball really does. The did super-slo-mo, frame-by-frame analysis of what at that time was considered to be the best curve in baseball. Guess who they used? An Oriole pitcher by the name of Mike Flanagan.

They brought him into the lab/studio/whatever, and took super slo-mo of his pitches from various angles and had scientists analyze them frame-by-frame. The key evidence was the photos taken from from the side (more like you would see it from the dugout than from either end of the pitch, like we see from the plate or from CF, where the perspective on it gets screwed up). Their study concluded there was zero doubt that the thing went in one big arc and didn't "break" at all. They showed this in the mag by superimposing strobed still-frames so you could see the arc it took. They said the "breaking" part was an optical illusion from the hitter's perspective, but I don't think they figured out exactly how that worked. Anyway, it was a big deal at the time, not because of Flanagan, but because of what they discovered about what curveballs really do.

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I don't think so, because if you notice the experiment involves looking away from the ball as it moves, which would make sense if it really WAS an illusion to someone watching.

Someone trying to hit the ball is going to be watching the pitch as it comes in, so it shouldn't really fool them anymore than the break already does.

At least that's what it seems to me.

From the experiment:

So as a baseball flies towards home plate, the moment when it passes from central to peripheral vision could exaggerate the movement of the ball, causing its gradual curve to be seen as a sudden jerk.
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Someone trying to hit the ball is going to be watching the pitch as it comes in, so it shouldn't really fool them anymore than the break already does.

There is no break. That's the part that's an illusion.

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On a side note, when was Flanny's curve ever considered the best in the game? I'd have figured they'd pick Blyleven.

I forget exactly when they did it. I had the mag, but it got washed away with other stuff by Hurricane Ivan, so it's out in the Gulf of Mexico somewhere. I'd guess it was probably either during or soon after Flanny's Cy Young year, which was '79. Since there weren't message boards then, I don't recall lots of fights about whose curve was better. I think everybody agreed that Flanny's was exceptional. So, "exceptional curve" + "Cy Young" = "magazine cover story about curveballs". Shocking, I know.

The magazine said they got Flanny to do it because baseball people told them he had the best curve. (But, if he's who they used for the study, what else would they say?) I don't know whose was better. The big diff is how many years they were each a reliable front-line starter: 404 GS for Flanny vs 685 for Bert. Huge diff in number of years with 30+ GS, huge diff in career IP, etc., etc.

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Just my own hypothesis here... couple days ago it was said in the greatest pitchers thread, or in the who threw hardest thread.....

Anyways... a point I picked up on, there was a comparison made on an old study of the fastball as it crossed home plate. But it was stated that the modern radar guns focus on the ball as it comes out of the pitcher's hand, and it loses several MPH in the 60 feet to home plate.

A curve would be the same. As it slowed down on it's way to the plate the break would become more and more. Spin/curve vs. velocity. Thus the "late-breaking curve."

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Just my own hypothesis here... couple days ago it was said in the greatest pitchers thread, or in the who threw hardest thread.....

Anyways... a point I picked up on, there was a comparison made on an old study of the fastball as it crossed home plate. But it was stated that the modern radar guns focus on the ball as it comes out of the pitcher's hand, and it loses several MPH in the 60 feet to home plate.

A curve would be the same. As it slowed down on it's way to the plate the break would become more and more. Spin/curve vs. velocity. Thus the "late-breaking curve."

Nope. High-speed cameras record it as being just one big smooth arc, no matter how much folks think it "breaks"...

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From the experiment:
So as a baseball flies towards home plate, the moment when it passes from central to peripheral vision could exaggerate the movement of the ball, causing its gradual curve to be seen as a sudden jerk.

I've seen slow motion analysis of some of the best hitters in baseball where the commentator remarked about how the batter's eyes followed the baseball's path right up to the point it made contact with the bat, so I'd guess that some hitters actually see a curve ball as following one constant arc. However, I never hit that way and I suspect that most baseball hitters have difficulties following the ball that well, hence the transition from central to peripheral vision and the appearance of a sharp break.

We should ask a catcher, since they undoubtedly keep the ball in their central vision too.

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I've seen slow motion analysis of some of the best hitters in baseball where the commentator remarked about how the batter's eyes followed the baseball's path right up to the point it made contact with the bat, so I'd guess that some hitters actually see a curve ball as following one constant arc. However, I never hit that way and I suspect that most baseball hitters have difficulties following the ball that well, hence the transition from central to peripheral vision and the appearance of a sharp break.

We should ask a catcher, since they undoubtedly keep the ball in their central vision too.

Have to bow out at this point. I saw my first good curveball in Pony League (Tim Lininger) and at that exact moment I KNEW baseball was not a viable career path...

:rofl:

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Nope. High-speed cameras record it as being just one big smooth arc, no matter how much folks think it "breaks"...

Just so everyone knows, I know the difference: bad terminology on my part :)

My point is that it definitely curves side-to-side in addition to up-and-down. That always seems to be where the doubt is, since all overhand pitches end up making some form of downward movement just based on angles and gravity.

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