Monday, July 4, 2011

Techno-Geek Ball Player

PRNewsFoto/Red Bull/Brian NevinsJimmy Rollins attempted the world record down Ben Franklin Parkway in Philadelphia.
We weren't home last weekend when Jimmy Rollins attempted to break the world record for the longest batted ball. Babe Ruth supposedly hit one 575 feet. (I thought Mantle had a shot reputed to travel 734 feet out of Yankee Stadium...but that was something I read when I was about 10 in the days before Google...or was it?). Estimated distances, of course, are different than tape measured distance, and that's what Jimmy was trying for.

Rollins was doing a promo for Red Bull. His longest competitive shot was 420 feet. Using a composite bat with a huge barrel and doing his swatting on Philly's Ben Franklin Parkway (my office is just two blocks further up the Parkway from where the photo is taken), his best shot ended up traveling 463 feet. Interesting...

When you read the literature, scientific studies show that non-wood bats give an extra 10% distance and speed over quality wood. Rollins extra 43 feet is pretty much right where it should have been. Apparently, though, they were also using juiced balls last weekend. I'm assuming Jimmy had warmed up with a few cans of Red Bull as well. Clearly, he needed a few more.

Ryan Howard has hit a 505 foot blast with wood. It's possible then that he could break the record with a magic bat, or at least come very close. Of course, were this trick tried back in the 90s by one of the juiced bombers (pick your name here, although I have to tell you I watched Barry Bonds take BP before a game once in Philly and his shots were barely clearing the wall) 700+ would have been something we could expect. Juiced balls, indeed!

All of this reeks of controversy, of course. Go here to see that Ruth and Mantle both don't even figure into the mix. More to the point, there should be a techno record and a natural one. For what it's worth, Ruth hit with hickory for much of his career. The bats weighed a ton and had little flex but amazing pop...though I've read the sweet spots were extremely small.

Mysteriously, Richie Sexson's 2006 out-of-the-park BP session with a composite bat is nowhere to be found on the Internet. I know I saw it once. Conspiracy? I think so!

Read The Inquirer's commentary on the Red Bull-Rollins-event here. Must have been fun! We were up in Vermont at my brother's wedding. That was fun too.

Anyway, see you out there tonight. First there's the ball game (Jesse Biddle on the mound!) then there's the fireworks. Happy 4th!

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