About This Episode
On this episode of Playing with Science, hosts Gary O’Reilly and Chuck Nice dive deep into the science of baseball as we investigate juiced balls, broken bats, and the secrets to breaking records. Our hosts welcome an all-star team of baseball experts to help us get around the bases and safely home. We’re joined by Alan Nathan, physicist and Chairman of the MLB Commission Report; James Sherwood, mechanical engineer and Director at the Baseball Research Center; and Shawn Green, former MLB player and one of 18 people in the history of baseball to hit four home runs in one game.
You’ll learn how the recent influx of home runs caused the MLB to commission research studying whether there had been “juiced balls” or any changes to the baseballs being used in the league today. Find out more about the research and lab testing that was done, what the independent panel of scientists concluded – and the mystery that still remains. Explore the physics of wooden bats, including which wood most bats are made out of, what defines the sweet spot, and why hitting certain parts of the bat causes your hands to sting. You’ll also hear why aluminum and composite bats will never make their way into Major League Baseball, and what parameters each ball and bat must obey in order to be accepted for use in Major League Baseball.
Shawn takes us through his experience of hitting four home runs in one game – and the slump he was in before the record-setting game. We explore methods that help “train your focus” alongside training physically. You’ll hear how playing a modified game of Home Run Derby in batting practice helped Shawn become a better opposite field home run hitter. Discover why it’s sometimes easier to predict pitches from top-tier pitchers than from mediocre ones. All that, plus, Shawn explains how batters and pitchers will set each other up early in the season in order to pay-off months later, as well as how the routine translates to preparation in professional baseball, given the sheer amount of games played.
NOTE: All-Access subscribers can watch or listen to this entire episode commercial-free here: Juiced Balls, Broken Bats & Record Breakers, with Shawn Green.