The curveball is a figment of your imagination

Leave a comment

Whenever you hear someone’s curveball described as “dropping off the table” take it with a grain of salt.

According to one professor anyway, the curveball’s action is part-physics, part-illusion, the movement aided by a trick of the eye.

Criss Angel would be proud.

“There’s something physical about it and something illusory about
it,” said Bucknell University professor Arthur Shapiro. … “They look
like they jump or break or do all these funky things, but they don’t.
The idea that the bottom falls out isn’t so. I’m not saying curveballs
don’t curve. I emphasize that, yes, they curve. They just do so at a
more gradual rate. Instead of making a sudden hook, they would form a
really big circle.”

Shapiro explains that the eye exaggerates the break because peripheral
vision is processed differently than straight on vision by the brain.
So as the ball approaches and the viewpoint changes, the eye makes the
ball’s break look stronger than it is.

Shapiro made a very cool graphic to explain his idea, which he insists is only a hypothesis.

So what do players think? Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt offered his
opinion for the story, and he had a thoughtful take, saying he agreed
that the curveball presents an illusion to the hitter, but not due to
peripheral vision.

“Hitters are seeing the ball with both eyes, not out of the side of
front eye as suggested,” said Schmidt. “I believe the illusion is a
result of the speed with which the action takes place, not a peripheral
view. Then again, I’m not a scientist, just a hitter.”

Well, not just a hitter. Thanks to SPORTSbyBROOKS for this story.

Giants place Hunter Pence on 10-day disabled list with right thumb sprain

Getty Images
Leave a comment

The Giants placed outfielder Hunter Pence on the 10-day disabled list with a right thumb sprain, per an official announcement on Friday. Pence initially sustained the injury during the club’s home opener on April 3, when he dove to intercept a line drive double from Robinson Cano and jammed his thumb. Weeks of playing through the pain hasn’t worked, so he’ll take a breather while the Giants give outfielder Mac Williamson a chance to start in left after getting called up from Triple-A Fresno.

Pence, 35, wouldn’t pin his recent struggles on his injury, but it’s clear that he’s having difficulty finding his footing this year. He slashed a meager .172/.197/.190 through 61 plate appearances in 2018, collecting just one extra-base hit and two walks during the Giants’ dismal 7-11 stretch. While it’s far too early in the season to make any final judgments, it doesn’t look like the veteran outfielder will be replicating the .275+ average, 4.0+ fWAR totals of years past (at least, not anytime soon).

Williamson, meanwhile, has gotten off to a hot start in Triple-A. Prior to his call-up this weekend, the 27-year-old batted an incredible .487/.600/1.026 with six home runs and a 1.626 OPS through his first 50 PA. A hot Triple-A bat doesn’t always survive the transition to the majors, but the Giants will use all the help they can get — especially as they take on the AL West-leading Angels this weekend.