Have Geeklets, Will Travel: The Science of Baseball

Education Places
Image: theseanster93 via Flickr
Image: theseanster93 via Flickr

Welcome back to Have Geeklets, Will Travel, a summer travel series that will help you think up cool travel plans that will appeal to both kids and adults. From geocaching expeditions in your backyard to factory tours in far-flung states, we’ll be providing ideas all summer long to get you out of your house and on the road for great adventures.

Can sports be… geeky? Baseball can when you look at it through a geek lens, exploring the science of baseball, observing the construction of baseball equipment, and — of course — Billy Beane-ing the game with a little sabermetrics.

The Exploratorium is a great starting point for discussing the science behind the game. There are science activities you can start at home including learning how to add more bounce to a ball or how to set up several pitches practicing on a Styrofoam ball. You can judge your reaction time (and see if you have it in you to hit a fast ball) with their online predictor.

There are plenty of videos out there on the physics of baseball including pitching, hitting, and fielding. These will prepare you to hit the road and go see the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY; Louisville Slugger Museum and Factory in Louisville, Kentucky; or the BWP Bats Factory in Brookville, Pennsylvania. If you can’t get out to see baseball equipment come together or explore the history of the sport, at least schedule a visit to your local team’s stadium for a tour. Almost all stadiums offer a visit behind the scenes or down to the field. You may even get a chance to run the bases.

Lastly, the game changed when researchers started viewing the players in terms of statistics, a practice known as sabermetrics, popularized by people such as Billy Beane and Nate Silver. Take a few baseball players and start comparing them, looking at the bases run or how they field. Explore sites such as Baseball Think Factory to read up on sabermetrics.

Or throw all the numbers out the window and just go for the good, subjective enjoyment of the game.

Play ball!

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