Home Run Derby - A favorite pasttime

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Home Run Derby - A favorite pasttime

Postby Bill Glasheen » Tue Jul 13, 2010 3:01 am

The good news

David Ortiz (of my very favorite Boston Red Sox) convincingly won the All Star Home Run Derby. It's sort of like the slam dunk contest before the NBA All Star game; it's good for bragging rights only. You get to see a check written in your name to a charity.

But still... pretty cool.

Every year I try to get photos of the winner doing his swing. And why? Because...
  • Hitting a baseball is considered by many to be one of the most difficult feats in sports.
  • Hitting a homer is even more difficult. It isn't just about the power. A hitter needs to put the bat on a moving ball and have it jump out with the right speed and the right angle, or it'll either pop up or bounce. The trajectory of a homer is within a pretty narrow range.
  • So... hitting a homer requires BOTH power and precision. And to do this stroke after stroke after stroke - which the winner does - takes perfect mechanics.
  • Perfect mechanics means applying the principle of Sequential Summation of Motion (SSM). You start with the large muscles in the core, and finish with the smaller muscles in the periphery.
  • Perfect mechanics and perfect SSM means you use your core muscles (your legs/trunk) to generate power and the muscles in the periphery (your arms/wrists) to layer on the precision.
  • Yes, a martial artist can learn a thing or two from this. The perfect Sanchin thrust (or golf swing, or thrown pitch) is all about the same thing. Only with the Sanchin thrust, it's about doing everything smaller and quicker.


The bad news

I have this small thing called moving and starting a new job just ahead of me. Like I really have time to do this...

But I will. I hope... ;)

- Bill
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Postby Bill Glasheen » Tue Jul 13, 2010 3:07 am

From Sports Illustrated online...

Keith's Take from the 3rd and final round: As much as glorified batting practice -- an exhibition within the exhibition that is the All-Star Game -- can provide a prideful moment, David Ortiz ought to be pretty happy right now. He's been written off as a past-his-prime fading star each of the past two years, but on this night he made it look an awful lot like 2004. He took all the drama out of what seemed like it would be a fun final round by smoking 11 home runs, all of them vintage Ortiz bombs into the bleachers in right-center field or hooked down the line toward his West Coast version of the Pesky Pole. Ortiz's powerful display put all the pressure on Hanley Ramirez. Typical of his personality, Ortiz never appeared concerned when Ramirez made a brief run, and instead played his familiar role of lovable competitor, offering Ramirez a towel, some Gatorade and some advice midway through the round. Ramirez took all three from Ortiz but couldn't wrest the title away from him. Ortiz is the Derby champion, offering further proof that he's not done yet, either as a hitter or an attraction.


Read more: http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2010/b ... z0tWmvV4rQ

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Re: Home Run Derby - A favorite pasttime

Postby Glenn » Tue Jul 13, 2010 3:33 am

Bill Glasheen wrote:I have this small thing called moving and starting a new job just ahead of me. Like I really have time to do this...

But look on the plus side, the sooner you get there the sooner the paychecks start. Did you at least get them to foot the bill for the cost of moving?
Glenn
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Postby Bill Glasheen » Tue Jul 13, 2010 3:52 am

I got treated OK, Glenn, all things considered. After all, it's now an employer's market. They laid off around 1600, and hired 600. And you thank them for the offer you got.

The one thing about business cycles is that they cycle. What goes down must come up. ;)

What's worth more than a great job? Time to enjoy life. 8)

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Postby Bill Glasheen » Tue Jul 13, 2010 2:07 pm

So far I see a dearth of photos. What's up with sports photographers these days? They don't seem to want to take and print a lot of photos.

However this photo is key.

Image

The actual batting motion is somewhat complex and more like a body wave. But it can arbitrarily be broken down into lower and upper body components. What you see in this photo is Ortiz frozen in time milliseconds before the bat meets the ball. The navel (and subsequently pelvis) has rotated 90 degrees from facing the opposite batter's box to facing the pitcher. The upper body lags, which causes a torsion spring to be wound in the body. The combination of trunk/arm elasticity, dynamic stretch reflex, and carrying of "the wave" from lower to upper body is bringing the bat around.

Because Ortiz has taken his fireplug-like body and violently stepped forward and rotated into the ball, he has almost all the power he needs to hit the homer. Since his arms don't have to do the work, they can now concentrate on guiding the bat towards the ball. This is key. You cannot use the upper body for both power AND placement. In this case, the upper body is being used to channel the power generated below. At best, it adds a bit to the wave with the arm movement and subsequent wrist snapping.

Unless this is a knuckleball, the ball will have spin and consequently "lift" in a predetermined direction. Being able to read the spin and follow the movement gives the batter the information he needs to guide the bat in the right place at the right time. This gives the perfect-angled collision needed to send the ball off at that perfect angle.

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Postby Bill Glasheen » Tue Jul 13, 2010 2:15 pm

Here's the same position from a slightly different angle.

Image

Look at Ortiz's rear arm. For all practical purposes, it's now driving towards the ball like a supinated Sanchin kata thrust. His body is angled because of the load (bat weight and centrifugal force) on his torso.

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Postby Bill Glasheen » Tue Jul 13, 2010 2:19 pm

Here is the point of contact. It's the last instance where the rear arm is supinated. In addition to the body tilt from load, note how strongly the rear shoulder is pulled down.

Image

Here is the follow-through.

Image

Ortiz is somewhat unique in letting go of the bat with the rear arm. This lets you see how much that arm comes forward like a Sanchin thrust. Since the bat isn't going to carry it around, you see that arm's inertia from contact to after.

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Postby Bill Glasheen » Tue Jul 13, 2010 2:31 pm

This is a stroke from Josh Hamilton - a Texan who had a freakishly good first round in the 2008 Derby (28 homers first round). The mechanics are pretty much the same. However Josh has less in the way of core mass, which means it has to work twice as hard. Note him "venting" as that core contracts during the power stroke. It's like a pressure cooker which maintains the precise pressure inside.

Image

Since Josh had to work so hard, he faltered in later rounds. But his first round was history-making.

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Postby Bill Glasheen » Tue Jul 13, 2010 2:37 pm

Here's the point of contact from the opposite side.

Image

Again... note the alignment of the rear arm.

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