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The Science Of Baseball

Hey guys. My name is Jeff Sullivan, but you might know me as Jeff, or the dick from Lookout Landing, or Buckethead, if you're Aaron Royston from middle school. You know, Aaron, I never made fun of your glasses. I hope you flunked out of college.

A few weeks ago, I was asked by 710 ESPN Seattle if I wanted to do an on-air segment for them called The Science of Baseball, sponsored by the Museum of Flight. The segment is interesting, because once a week, every week (during the season), I'll go on and try to explain to people sciency things, like how a curveball breaks. The segment is challenging, because once a week, every week, I'll go on and try to explain to people sciency things in about 90 seconds. 90 seconds seems like forever when you're brushing your teeth, but then it takes me 90 seconds to say dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane, so compressing a decent scientific explanation into a minute and a half is going to be a battle.

But that's not why I'm here. At least not yet. The reason I'm here now and posting this is because the segment calls for a new topic each week, and while I could probably sit down and slap together a topic list on my own, I thought the BtB community might enjoy a little brainstorm participation. When I think science+baseball, I immediately think of curveballs because of that poster that hangs in every high school physics classroom in the country, but then there's the atmospheric effect on batted balls, and the effects of PEDs, and the art of catching a fly ball, and everything else. There's science everywhere.

So what I'm asking, I suppose, is: what do you think would be the ~20 "best" scientific topics? If you were teaching a class, and you had 20 sessions before the final, what would your schedule look like? I'm not asking each of you individually, but rather as a community, because I feel like this sort of thing is right up BtB's alley. While it's not linear weights, I can't think of a better place to introduce this sort of variety. (Note: because this is sponsored by the Museum of Flight, there's a slight preference for topics involving balls in the air, but that's a suggestion, and not a limitation.)

If this goes well and we can come up with a solid list, I was thinking that each week I could put up a thread for purposes of discussing that week's topic. Selfishly, it would help me prepare for the segment (a lot!), but beyond that, it would give BtB a handy, easily-accessible archive whenever one of these topics comes up in conversation. It would also serve as a reading list of sorts - if you're interested in baseball's scientific angle, then hey, go read through this section of posts and threads, because there's a ton of good material in there. Where better to host that sort of section than right here?

And if this doesn't go well, then, uh