Meet the oldest man one of the oldest men in minor league baseball

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Andy Tracy is the oldest player is one of the oldest players in minor league baseball.* Affiliated minor league baseball anyway. Jose Canseco stunts and never-say-die stories like Oil Can Boyd who knock around the independent leagues are their own, often wonderful thing. But Tracy is a company man, still toiling for the Reno Aces in the Arizona Diamondbacks system. Other than a half-season’s look for the Expos back in 2000, he’s had nothing but cups of coffee.  He’s my age, and I’m ancient, but he’s still playing ball.

Ryan O’Hanlon has his story today over at The Good Men Project. And Tracy sounds like a good man. Like Crash Davis wanting no mention of his minor league home record in the Sporting News, the Oldest Player in the Minors is not normally the sort who would want attention drawn to the fact that he hadn’t made it. And as O’Hanlon notes, other minor league old timers he wanted to interview declined.

But not Tracy. He’s realistic about his place in the world and seems to be content with it. And seeing someone doing something he loves, content with it no matter how most of us tend to measure success in that world, is a pretty cool thing.

Good stuff. Check it out.

*My bad. According to the article — and as pointed out by several readers — Tracy is merely one of the oldest men. I shall read more good next time.

MLB investigation confirms that the baseball has changed

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You know the baseballs are different. We know the baseballs are different. Pitchers have been saying the baseballs are different. And now Major League Baseball has acknowledged that the baseballs are different in a report of findings by a team of scientists from some of the top universities in the world, like Stanford, Caltech, and M.I.T.

You can read the whole thing here in PDF form. Here’s the gist …

The ball is not bouncier — or “juiced” — but it is most definitely carrying farther. From MLB.com’s Anthony Castrovince …

Though the study did not discover meaningful changes in the ball’s lift, it found that the drag coefficient of MLB balls has decreased since 2015. The researchers used a physics model to calculate that if the change in home run rate was attributable entirely to changes in drag, one would expect the drag coefficient to have decreased by approximately 0.012. The exact change in drag coefficient in the time period studied — if you’re scoring at home — was 0.0153.

It’s not the seams or the core that has changed — those aspects were tested — and it’s not the weather either. In fact, the commision couldn’t figure out what is causing the decrease in drag, despite numerous tests on all elements of the ball. It might simply come down to manufacturing advancements. Looking at you, Rawlings …

“Rawlings is always trying to improve the manufacturing process to make it more uniform,” Alan Nathan, professor emeritus of physics at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign told MLB.com. “So the interesting question that comes up is whether the goal should be to improve the manufacturing process or to keep the ball performing exactly the way it is, regardless of whether it’s improved or not.”

Baseball Prospectus began studying this three years ago, as home runs began to increase around the league. Their write-up on MLB’s report is a must-read.