Saturday, October 22, 2016

BELIEVELAND heads to the World Series!

In light of recent events (Go Cleveland Indians!), I started thinking about the physics of baseball. The more I thought about it, it became clear that there are many physics examples in this sport. The article I read is titled, "The Physics of October Baseball in Wrigley". In this article, the author analyzes how the wind might affect the trajectory of a ball after it is hit as well as how it affects the pitch by looking at the average wind speed in the summer vs. the average wind speed in the fall. (I think the author is trying to make excuses for the Chicago Cubs...but I'll try to look past that.) He provides a comprehensive analysis of the different factors that might affect the pitch (i.e. speed of the ball; distance traveled; the rotational motion of the ball; etc.). I included two images of the statistics he recorded. The bottom image includes a "key" above it, which describes what the numbers between the slash lines signify.

The author includes the speed, distance, horizontal angle, vertical angle, and rotational motion for three different pitch types by Jake Arrieta.
The author analyzes different types of hits by assessing the distance traveled, the time in the air, and how much the ball drifts (in degrees).

Using his theoretical data, the author concludes that the shift in winds in Chicago might have an effect on the outcome of a pitch or a hit between the summer and fall. He provides data about the ball's velocity, distance traveled, and angle, all of which can be used in kinematics and energy equations to find additional information. Moreover, he discusses the rotational motion of the baseball, which, again, can be used in angular kinematic equations (given constant angular acceleration) or can be converted to linear speed. 

Prior to reading this article, I was going to discuss the topics of momentum and energy in baseball. Using the data from Jake Arrieta's pitches (from the article) and the mass of the ball (let's call it 1kg for simplicity purposes), we can determine the momentum of the ball. For example, the momentum of the ball in a sinker pitch would be: p=mv, so p=1kg(95.0mph) = p=1kg(42.5 m/s). So, p=42.5 kgm/s for a ball in a sinker pitch. Furthermore, we can analyze how work and energy are related using the equation [m(vf2 - vi2) = -mg(h2-h1) + Wnonconservative]. Since we know the speed of the ball (42.5 m/s), we could determine what force the baseball glove/catcher's hand needs to exert in order to bring the ball to a stop (vf=0). 

To conclude, there is obviously a lot of physics going on in a baseball game! The article "The Physics of October Baseball in Wrigley" discusses several topics in physics that we have covered thus far and definitely got me thinking about future topics, specifically regarding rotational motion. 

But for now, let's hope the Cleveland Indians can maintain their successful momentum throughout the World Series and clinch a Championship title!


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