Thursday, July 18, 2013

And Now For Something Light -- Baseball!

So blah, blah, blah politics, amirite? Seems like this space has devolved into angry rants lately. Which is fine to a point (angry ranting is more-or-less what I do best), but sometimes that shit has to be tempered by the light frivolity that is grown men being paid large sums of money to play a game.

Gizmodo recently published and interesting history of the evolution of baseball equipment that's well worth the read. The funniest thing to me is that it took a long while for gloves to be introduced, and the first man to use one was mocked a fair bit for being so sissy he needed something to protect his hands. Though to be fair, at that time it still counted as an out if you caught the ball on the first hop, so maybe his bullies were somewhat justified.

Even more fascinating, though (and developed in more detail on the Smithsonian's blog) is the history of the ball itself. Originally there were no standards placed on the balls being used, but more interestingly, it was the pitcher's job to supply the ball for the game. This being before widespread automation (or at least automated production of baseballs), the pitchers would have to put the balls together themselves, carefully cutting up leather and sewing it together in just the right way. Often the balls would really only be any good for the first few innings, after which they would become misshapen blobs that would be incredibly difficult to hit, leading to what is commonly referred to as the "dead ball era" and often excluded from discussions about the statistical history of baseball.

Anyway, both of the article linked above contain a bunch more links of their own, which can send you down a rabbit hole of internet links until your afternoon is gone, which may or may not be a good thing, depending on how you define your life...

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