13 August 2011

Cup of jO's: The Ball is Juiced (1961 style)

An article from 1961 that focuses on how the ball has changed throughout the years and whether it was a time of 'Rabbitball.'  This is just another in a long line of articles since the dawn of baseball trying to explain why certain remarkable performances occur.  I find perusing the magazine and the history intertwined in the pieces.

What I think the take home message here is that sometimes athletic achievements are the result of three general factors: the natural (e.g. a player's own genetic makeup and environmental history, changes in regional and national weather), the 'unnatural' (e.g. cheating, changes in ballpark dimensions, characteristics of the baseball, fluxes in competition level due to schedules/teammates/expansion/racism/etc), and general luck (e.g. sample sizes, improbable sequences).  In general, the sporting world often focuses on the first two.  People like accomplishment that are earned and love to despise those that are perceived not to be earned.  I think few actually rail on about luck except those of us who study the numbers and recognize how much we need of a sample to say something somewhat meaningful.

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