Fast ball.
July 11, 2015 11:59 AM   Subscribe

 
*shrieks and ducks* ~ me, for sure
posted by mal de coucou at 12:15 PM on July 11, 2015 [3 favorites]


Next up: what's it's like to face a 150 m.p.h. bowling ball serve.
posted by item at 12:22 PM on July 11, 2015 [8 favorites]


Based on how I flinched too slowly I figure I would die
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 12:23 PM on July 11, 2015 [4 favorites]


Why are they so much faster now? Is it predominantly drugs?
posted by jclarkin at 12:23 PM on July 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


on the other hand probably being within 150 feet of Serena Williams would also make me die. I can't handle that much concentrated awesome.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 12:28 PM on July 11, 2015 [12 favorites]


Why are they so much faster now? Is it predominantly drugs?

Training regimens and theories are better, workout regimens are better, surgeries are better (to allow for more training time after injuries), equipment is better, tennis players can make a full-time vocation of it rather than having to do something else for 40 hours a week... There are a lot of reasons besides simply "drugs" (and yes, medicine of legal, illegal, authorized, and unauthorized varieties are getting better too) that athletes across pretty much all disciplines are improving in easily measurable ways from their predecessors.
posted by Etrigan at 12:34 PM on July 11, 2015 [5 favorites]


yet curiously the mile isn't getting faster and more. the men's andwomen's records were both set before 2000 (i have no idea why - for all i know it may just be noise, or perhaps people don't run it any more).
posted by andrewcooke at 12:47 PM on July 11, 2015


Are pro tennis players going to be lining up for Tommy John surgeries now like pitchers?
posted by Rhomboid at 12:48 PM on July 11, 2015


And now I've fallen down a Tommy John rabbit hole. Fascinating stuff. Thanks!
posted by cromagnon at 1:10 PM on July 11, 2015


Things really have changed.

The other day I was looking back at the career of Maurice Lucas, who was one of the NBA's pre-eminent enforcers back in the late 70s and early 80s, and he was 6'8", and in his prime weighed 215 lbs.!
posted by jamjam at 1:21 PM on July 11, 2015


Oh so it's only 73mph by the time it hits the baseline. That's alright then.
posted by billiebee at 2:14 PM on July 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


As the video notes, speed is diminished after that first bounce. Still, it's frightening how little time you would have to react. I still would rather face this than a major league pitch from 60' that can dip up/down/swerve to right or left etc.
posted by Ber at 2:15 PM on July 11, 2015


on the other hand probably being within 150 feet of Serena Williams would also make me die. I can't handle that much concentrated awesome

Watched Serena win Wimbledon again today and I think it's time we invented a new word for what she is. Awesome isn't awesome enough.
posted by billiebee at 2:16 PM on July 11, 2015 [6 favorites]


It was Wimbleton's second fastest serve ever. — NYT voice-over guy

<blink>PET PEEVE ALERT</blink>
posted by Sys Rq at 2:31 PM on July 11, 2015 [3 favorites]


I went through a phase where I wanted to be a baseball umpire, but decided not to for this very reason.
posted by Melismata at 2:34 PM on July 11, 2015


Easy. Just stick your racket out!
posted by markkraft at 2:52 PM on July 11, 2015


It could always be worse.
posted by markkraft at 2:56 PM on July 11, 2015


The mile isn't run all that often. Also, there is suspicion that those late 1990 times are doped.
posted by persona au gratin at 3:07 PM on July 11, 2015


Training regimens and theories are better, workout regimens are better, surgeries are better (to allow for more training time after injuries), equipment is better, tennis players can make a full-time vocation of it rather than having to do something else for 40 hours a week... There are a lot of reasons besides simply "drugs" (and yes, medicine of legal, illegal, authorized, and unauthorized varieties are getting better too) that athletes across pretty much all disciplines are improving in easily measurable ways from their predecessors.

Don't forget the teams of professionals (coaches, trainers, physios, massage therapists, hitting partners, sports psychologists, nutritionists) that surround top players. Many minds harvesting the bounty of the past few decades' scientific advances, all working towards a single goal. It's like formula 1, but the work is done on human bodies rather than cars. Incredible to watch.
posted by mantecol at 3:09 PM on July 11, 2015 [2 favorites]


... it's frightening how little time you would have to react. I still would rather face this than a major league pitch from 60' that can dip up/down/swerve to right or left etc.
posted by Ber at 4:15 PM on July 11

My understanding (thank you David Foster Wallace) is that a top tennis player can make the ball loopy as hell with topspin, so it's not always a dead-straight affair. But I'll never forget that one vid linked here, showing a major league pitcher throwing his repertoire of pitches in which his windup and throw looked completely identical yet one pitch went here, one pitch went there, all different locations and at all different speeds. An amazing feat.
posted by dancestoblue at 5:23 PM on July 11, 2015


No, actually the greatest difference to speeds then and now is the racquet.
posted by wilful at 5:43 PM on July 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


Gallwey always said to watch the seams, not the ball. Lotsa luck with that.
posted by klarck at 5:50 PM on July 11, 2015


But I'll never forget that one vid linked here, showing a major league pitcher throwing his repertoire of pitches in which his windup and throw looked completely identical yet one pitch went here, one pitch went there, all different locations and at all different speeds. An amazing feat.

The difference between the good pitchers and bad ones is how well they can hide what they're throwing while they're throwing it. If you're obviously throwing your changeup, your changeup is going to get sent into the bleachers by pretty much every major league hitter out there. To make that pitch work, it has to be thrown exactly like your regular pitches, so that the batter doesn't realize until the ball is halfway to the plate that you've thrown a 75mph changeup, not a 95mph fastball.

Mariano Rivera was even worse, he'd throw a cut fastball that moved like a fastball, spun almost like a fastball, but *moved* almost like a slider. So, to right handed batters, they basically had to guess if he'd thrown the straight or cut fastball, if they guessed wrong, the ball would be at least a foot away from where they were swinging. Rivera almost never threw the straight fastball at lefties, he'd just run the cutter in on them and watch them choke on it. There's a reason he's going to the Hall of Fame in, oh, three years if I'm remembering the eligibility rules right.

Gallwey always said to watch the seams, not the ball. Lotsa luck with that.

In baseball, that's what they do. Curveballs and sliders are spinning sideways, the effect is that the red seams end up creating a red "dot" in the middle of the ball. MLB batters spot this and know they've got a breaking ball on the way.

People unable to spot this? They don't become Major League batters!

This, BTW, is one of the reasons soccer balls have patterns. Turns out it's much easier to learn how to bend a ball when you can tell when it's spinning. It's also tell the goalies that it's spinning as well! (And, off sports, this is why rockets frequently had black and white stripes on them. If it was spinning slowly, you could see it. Well, you could tell if it was spinning really fast, the rocket turned grey -- usually just before it blew up.)
posted by eriko at 6:42 PM on July 11, 2015 [8 favorites]


The baseball vid is one of the few FPP's I've made where the link survives to this day.
posted by maxwelton at 6:49 PM on July 11, 2015 [4 favorites]


jclarkin: "Why are they so much faster now? Is it predominantly drugs?"

wilful: "No, actually the greatest difference to speeds then and now is the racquet."

Yeah, it's like 90% the racquets with the modern composite frames, bigger hitting heads, fancy string material, etc. Go pick up an old wooden one (in its press to prevent warping!) at a garage sale, have it restrung, and take it and your modern fiberglass one to a tennis court, and hit some serves yourself -- even you and I will be able to hit a MUCH faster serve with the modern racket.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 7:26 PM on July 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


My nephew played in a tournament that Sam Groth won when he was playing lower-level tournaments a couple of years ago. He said Groth did a second serve that kicked over the opponent and over the back fence.
posted by oluckyman at 8:40 PM on July 11, 2015


even you and I will be able to hit a MUCH faster serve with the modern racket

Speak for yourself. I'd undoubtedly miss the ball completely with either racquet.
posted by item at 8:51 PM on July 11, 2015 [4 favorites]


I was a decent player in high school (enough so that it's requiring a manly effort to keep from bragging more). Of course I could never return a 150 mph serve, but still--it's easier than this video makes it look. You get to see the wind-up!
posted by O. Bender at 10:10 PM on July 11, 2015


yet curiously the mile isn't getting faster and more. the men's andwomen's records were both set before 2000 (i have no idea why - for all i know it may just be noise, or perhaps people don't run it any more).

Not exactly the mile, but the women's 1500 meter record, set in 1993, just got broken. As discussed in that article, those records in the 1980s and 1990s have pretty much all been found to be the result of hella doping; the lack of new middle-distance records in the last couple of decades is more of an indictment of old anti-doping measures than an indication that athletes aren't improving.
posted by Etrigan at 5:09 PM on July 18, 2015


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