Did Jon Lester Cheat?

Baseball in GloveThere are claims that Boston pitcher Jon Lester cheated in the Series opener against St. Louis in Boston on Wednesday night. These claims are based upon an observable blob of something – I think I’d rather not know precisely what – in his glove. The substance in his glove does not necessarily equate to cheating. It’s what Lester did or did not do with the substance that counts.

A major league pitch moves through the air at speeds of 90 mph or more. As the ball moves forward, it is subject to aerodynamic forces known as the Magnus Force – a variation of the Bernoulli effect. In the case of the Magnus Force, it is the spinning of the ball and the raised surface of the stitches that create a whirlpool of rotating air around the ball. The moving air exerts pressure – think Bernoulli effect – and the ball moves in the direction of least resistance. A perfect curve ball curves right at the plate because of the Magnus Force.  Continue reading

Baseball Science

Baseball is all about fluid dynamics – actually aerodynamics – since the fluid is air.

Aerios: concerning the air.Dynamics: force.The Ancient Greeks coined the term Baseballaerodynamics for their study of forces and the resulting motion of objects through air. Today, all the attention a pitcher pays to the placement of his fingers in relation to the seams is done to take advantage of the aerodynamic properties of a ball in flight. Because the seams are the only raised portion of the ball, a baseball made to spin as it moves alternates its smooth and raised surfaces. The cowhide – cut in two peanut-shapes – is smooth.The 216 stitches used to hold the cowhide together, a raised saddle pattern, or double horseshoes, on the ball. These smooth and raised surfaces are the cause of the ball’s performance as it responds to the effects of Lift, Thrust, Drag, and Gravity. Continue reading

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