Baseball

someblokecalleddave

Well-Known Member
Damn! Boris isn't on here anymore!

I've posted this in the spinning section in the 'Drift' bit. But I'm looking for answers relating to why cricket balls and baseballs spin differently........

The other area that I'm finding loads of information in is Baseball. I know that it used to be common in Australia for Cricket players to play Baseball in the Off-season, I think Peter Philpott used to? Are there any of you Aussies out there that do this and are half decent pitchers of the 'Curve Ball'? There's loads of Seppo's (Americans) that bowl curve balls, but they don't seem that interested in the amount of spin. There's plenty of stuff out there that explores the Curve Ball and they mention spin and it seems integral to getting the Curve ball to swerve (Drift) but no-one dwells on it in the same way that Spin Bowlers do. The little slo-mo footage that there is of the curve ball (This applies to footballs as well) shows that they don't spin it a great deal and still the ball swerves massively, additionally they don't allow the ball to get particularly worn and scuffed up and its the Umpires job to check the ball and replace it seemingly to reduce the chance of a H&S incident due to a massive curve off a curve ball (Some bloke was killed by a curve ball some time back). So the question is -

Why does a baseball drift so much more than a cricket ball, yet it spins so little? It seems the answer may be connected to either---

* The seam and its configuration
* The Speed the ball is travelling (70mph)

Anyone have any idea?
 

Boris

Active Member
Kram's email just popped up in my inbox (for some reason yours didn't, Dave) so I'll pop back in and see what I can add. A lot of this you've probably either already worked out or have read somewhere, but I'll put down what I know anyway.

I dropped out of physics earlier than most would so I can't prove it scientifically, nor can I seem to find much info on the internet as to why, so this is all personal experience. What I find the main differences are between the two balls are size, weight texture, material, ageing and especially seam configuration.

As a pitcher at club level I rely purely on pace, I can get pitches up around 130 km/h most games based on the few occasions we've had the speed gun out. This is a lot for a club game, but I don't have the accuracy or variations to make it much more useful than somebody slower but more skillful. The few variations I have are all based around the seam, I find.

As you probably know, a baseball's seams are in the same pattern as a tennis ball. You generally pitch either a 'two-seam ball' or a 'four-seam ball'. The number refers to how many seams (or parts of seams, as technically it is all one seam) will rotate through the air with backspin, just pick up a tennis ball and give it a go and you'll see that you can either throw it with two seams rotating through the air (with backspin), or turn the ball around 90 degrees and four seams will rotate through the air.

Obviously four seams will cause a lot more drag, which is why you throw your fast ball with two seams to reduce drag and increase pace, but curve ball, screw ball, change up etc with four seams to increase the drag to increase the amount of curve you can get in the air.

The seams are much more pronounced than a cricket ball so there's even more drag created there. The texture of the ball also seems to feel rougher and grippier in comparison to the slippery cricket ball, so maybe that also helps.

The pronounced seams also make it a lot easier to get physical purchase on the ball. To impart spin a lot of the time you have your finger run directly down one or two of the seams, plus the ball seems to be just the right size for your palm. Both of these I would say much increases the amount of rotations per second and therefore curve, although I don't have any actual research to back that up.

The cricket ball is generally quite slippery and you have only the 'one' seam to grip with, which quite often gets flattened out and smooth by the time a spinner gets to use it. Particularly as a finger spinner (which is basically how all spin is generated in baseball) I find the biggest problem with me getting any turn is getting sufficient purchase on the ball, and I always wonder how much energy is being expelled throughout the action as my fingers struggle to get purchase. Baseballs seem to just stick to your hand and are a few grams lighter.

As Dave said, balls are replaced every time it hits anything other than hand or glove (as much as possible, anyway, as club games can quite often run out of balls quite quickly). This is to both stop visibility issues as the ball goes either red or brown once it hits the ground, and also to stop any wear, otherwise the pitchers will simply be unable to control the amount of curve on a ball and it becomes a safety issue. This obviously means there is no swing in baseball, which is what cricket relies on due to the inability for large amounts of curve.

All this said, baseballs seem to be designed for an incredibly boring and one-sided affair. Despite loving pitching, I don't like the rest of the game very much due to lack of anything interesting happening at all. It always seems that even five-day Test cricket is moving faster than a three-hour baseball game. Pitchers dominate around 75% of play due to the massive help they get from these balls and makes it incredibly difficult for a batter to score. Efforts have been made throughout the years to help balance this a little, such as lowering the height of the pitching mound (another advantage, pitching from a height down at the batter) and allowing advanced bat technology, but it really hasn't helped. In my opinion baseball would be a much more interesting and better game if they used something similar to a cricket ball.

Sorry for the long post, as ever, but hopefully this covers a few things.
 

someblokecalleddave

Well-Known Member
Kram's email just popped up in my inbox (for some reason yours didn't, Dave) so I'll pop back in and see what I can add. A lot of this you've probably either already worked out or have read somewhere, but I'll put down what I know anyway.

I dropped out of physics earlier than most would so I can't prove it scientifically, nor can I seem to find much info on the internet as to why, so this is all personal experience. What I find the main differences are between the two balls are size, weight texture, material, ageing and especially seam configuration.

As a pitcher at club level I rely purely on pace, I can get pitches up around 130 km/h most games based on the few occasions we've had the speed gun out. This is a lot for a club game, but I don't have the accuracy or variations to make it much more useful than somebody slower but more skillful. The few variations I have are all based around the seam, I find.

As you probably know, a baseball's seams are in the same pattern as a tennis ball. You generally pitch either a 'two-seam ball' or a 'four-seam ball'. The number refers to how many seams (or parts of seams, as technically it is all one seam) will rotate through the air with backspin, just pick up a tennis ball and give it a go and you'll see that you can either throw it with two seams rotating through the air (with backspin), or turn the ball around 90 degrees and four seams will rotate through the air.

Obviously four seams will cause a lot more drag, which is why you throw your fast ball with two seams to reduce drag and increase pace, but curve ball, screw ball, change up etc with four seams to increase the drag to increase the amount of curve you can get in the air.

The seams are much more pronounced than a cricket ball so there's even more drag created there. The texture of the ball also seems to feel rougher and grippier in comparison to the slippery cricket ball, so maybe that also helps.

The pronounced seams also make it a lot easier to get physical purchase on the ball. To impart spin a lot of the time you have your finger run directly down one or two of the seams, plus the ball seems to be just the right size for your palm. Both of these I would say much increases the amount of rotations per second and therefore curve, although I don't have any actual research to back that up.

The cricket ball is generally quite slippery and you have only the 'one' seam to grip with, which quite often gets flattened out and smooth by the time a spinner gets to use it. Particularly as a finger spinner (which is basically how all spin is generated in baseball) I find the biggest problem with me getting any turn is getting sufficient purchase on the ball, and I always wonder how much energy is being expelled throughout the action as my fingers struggle to get purchase. Baseballs seem to just stick to your hand and are a few grams lighter.

As Dave said, balls are replaced every time it hits anything other than hand or glove (as much as possible, anyway, as club games can quite often run out of balls quite quickly). This is to both stop visibility issues as the ball goes either red or brown once it hits the ground, and also to stop any wear, otherwise the pitchers will simply be unable to control the amount of curve on a ball and it becomes a safety issue. This obviously means there is no swing in baseball, which is what cricket relies on due to the inability for large amounts of curve.

All this said, baseballs seem to be designed for an incredibly boring and one-sided affair. Despite loving pitching, I don't like the rest of the game very much due to lack of anything interesting happening at all. It always seems that even five-day Test cricket is moving faster than a three-hour baseball game. Pitchers dominate around 75% of play due to the massive help they get from these balls and makes it incredibly difficult for a batter to score. Efforts have been made throughout the years to help balance this a little, such as lowering the height of the pitching mound (another advantage, pitching from a height down at the batter) and allowing advanced bat technology, but it really hasn't helped. In my opinion baseball would be a much more interesting and better game if they used something similar to a cricket ball.

Sorry for the long post, as ever, but hopefully this covers a few things.
Boris have a look at this - especially the bit at the end. I know the balls not a baseball or a cricket ball, but the curve it gets is ridiculous!
 

Boris

Active Member
Boris have a look at this - especially the bit at the end. I know the balls not a baseball or a cricket ball, but the curve it gets is ridiculous!
Air is a quite magical thing!

I've seen some pretty nasty curve in the major leagues in the US, however they are normally either up or down. Since all baseball is cross bat the side-to-side isn't as effective as it is in cricket, so a lot of the curve comes from either back or top spin.

As for actual spin off a pitch, I've never actually tried with a baseball. I'm guessing the seams wouldn't be too handy for bounce consistency.
 

Duffy33

New Member
With regards to a curve ball... there are so many ways to make a baseball create movement...

a typical Curveball you would grip the ball with two fingers (Pointer and middle finger) running along with a seam... and the thumb on the opposite seam on the other side of the ball... a typical curveball is slower... basically between 65-80miles per hour... a power pitcher would be on the upper scale of that, and a finesse pitcher would be on the lower scale...

The idea of throwing it slower is to let it catch as much drag as possible to make it curve as much as possible... during the delivery a finesse pitcher would turn his wrist as he lets go of the ball to make it spin... a right handed pitcher wants a curve ball to drop from the right side of the home plate to the left side of home plate... a lefty will be vice versa... a nice slow looping curveball is the idea for a finesse pitcher... it's a timing issue, and a location issue as it curves so much...

A power pitcher will have his wrist give a more aggressive snap when he releases the ball... his idea is to have the ball travel a faster speed, and typically his curveball will start to curve closer to home plate, making it a bit harder to judge for the hitter as it may start out looking like a normal fastball...

The Famous New York Yankee Closing Relief Pitcher Mariano Rivera... throws only one pitch... a fastball... however he throws it with 3 different grips... as a right handed pitcher he throws a Cutter, a 4 Seamer, and a fade away all of them are thrown with a type of Fastball grip... all around the 90-95MPH speed

The Cutter is usually most effective against Left handed batters as it will approach the plate and start to come to the inside area of the hitting zone... the cutter is held similar to a curve ball... but it doesn't have the curveball wrist twist, or snap to it... most pitchers I caught used to throw it by putting more pressure on the outside of the seam with the middle finger, this somehow gave the Cutter enough spin that it would curve on a horizontal plane... like a slider it goes from one side to the other instead of dropping...

A 4 seam fastball is a fairly aggressive pitch, it tends to get the most rotation of the fastballs, but it typically doesn't have a breaking motion... however and I have no idea why this is... the 4 seam fastball FEELS like they have just thrown a shot putt when it's hit or caught... it is a VERY heavy pitch with a lot of speed...

The Fade Away, is held with the Pointer and the Middle fingers each over their own seam, with the stitching curving out past the ends of the fingers... kind of hard to explain lol... but the idea is for the Pointer finger to put the most pressure on its seam so that the ball will curve away from a Lefty and inside to a Right handed hitter... This pitch has a similar result as an old time pitch the Screw Ball... that was held exactly like a curve ball... but the pitcher would contort his arm to reverse the motion of throwing a curveball to make it break in the opposite direction... it was incredibly hard on pitchers and I haven't heard of a pitcher using a REAL screwball in years...

3 bloody versions of a fastball, and Mariano Rivera is going to go to the Hall of Fame lol

Now there will be a lot of discussion on how to throw the best curveball... some like an arm rotation that comes completely over the top of the shoulder similar to bowling... some like to have their elbow bent at a more extreme angle like a 3/4 delivery, before they start their release to help the ball sweep across the strike zone... with the bent elbow they don't seem to need to snap their wrist as much as the follow through of their deliver provides a natural spin... and some like to throw a side arm, which makes the motion of the curveball a little more unpredictable...

The science behind it, like wind drag and all that... I don't really know the scientific reasons on how these pitches make their movement... close to 20 years of catching, and talking with my pitchers about their pitches is the basis of my knowledge of the grips and the motions... however knowing that... I couldn't produce a decent curveball myself if my life depended on it lol

But a cutter... I can throw a nice cutter.. just not very fast LOL
 

MathewThomas

New Member
Hey Friends,

Congratulation to all of you. I have a lot of knowledge about baseball. I had taken a Baseball Medal in my school life. I play Varsity baseball on my school team and I would like to help you out, I would suggest you are trying out different positions so you can see what position you would excel. Also, if you want to learn to pitch, strengthen your legs because that's what gives your pitches their speed, and start with the basics, fastball and change, Then you work yourself up to the secondary pitches, if you need any questions, feel free to contact me at steve@expressmedals.com.

Thanks a lot again.
Mathew Thomas
 
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