Could I get a little help here, MLB?

As someone who is fairly obsessive about watching home runs (and baseball in general), nothing frustrates me more than when I can’t get the information I need to analyze a home run, particularly a long one.  This can come about for a number of reasons: the flight of the ball may not be visible; it may not be possible to make a good read on the wind at the time of the hit; the location of the impact point may be difficult to accurately determine.  Most of these issues can be improved greatly with a minor change, many of which can be brought about by MLB and the media outlets that cover the game.  So, here goes, a wish list from Hit Tracker:

1.  Atmopsheric conditions.  To figure out how far a home run travels and how hard it was hit, it is very important to know the atmospherics at the time of the hit: temperature, wind direction and wind speed.  Currently these things are recorded in the box score, but only at the beginning of the game (actually, some time before the first pitch, judging by when that info appears in MLB Gameday.  It would be very helpful if this data could be captured every inning, or even every half inning.  No need to put that all in the main box score, just capture it and put it somewhere I can read it. 

  Failing that, I would settle for more flags in the parks; some are great in this respect (Wrigley with the scoreboard flags, Yankee Stadium’s flags on the stadium rim and in left field), others are fair (Fenway and Jacobs Field in center field), others I still don’t know where the flag is (Great American Ball Park).  This could also be a great marketing opportunity: MLB could sell a flag that flew over a major league game, just like they sell flags that flew over the White House…

2.  Visual backgrounds.  Some parks are just difficult to pick the ball up in: Shea Stadium in right field, the flag court in right field at Camden Yards, and my personal nemesis, the left field wall in Minute Maid Park.  I think this one is probably unrealistic, but it would be great if those teams could make the background contrast a bit more with the white baseball.  The first-base camera at Minute Maid helps, but that angle isn’t always available.  It justs hurts to have to leave a home run un-analyzed…

3.  Foul poles.  In most cases it’s easy to figure out how far above field level the ball impacts, but when it hits the pole, it can be tricky.  This request is easy: paint some tick marks on the poles, every 10 feet above field level, so I can tell how far up the ball hits…

4.  Camera work.  Here I have to ask the media for the assistance.  Nothing frustrates me more than watching a zoomed-in image of the center fielder run back on a ball and then pull up short of the wall, while the ball (off camera) disappears somewhere far above.  Usually I get lucky and there is another angle on the video (Soriano’s May 9 homer at Great American Ball Park is an example), but I’m nervous: the Adam Dunn homer from Aug. 10, 2004 (also at GABP) that reportedly went 535 feet is completely out of the frame on the video, meaning there’s no way to verify it, and there never will be.  So, my request is, have a camera mounted high on the stadium and keep it wide for the entire play (but following the ball).  Think of it as a blimp shot, only not so high…

So there are a few requests, some reasonable, some not, that would make the task of accurately estimating home run distances a lot easier.  Now, if my MLB All Access account could get me not only every game, but every camera feed, that might take care of a few of these issues… something to think about.

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4 comments

  1. Zack

    Ticks on the foul pole. I like that idea…and some of the other ones, too, but I can’t see teams redecorating their backdrops with darker colors. It’s a shame.

    Question: Do you know the speed of Vladimir Guerrero’s line drive that hit Rafael Soriano in the head? I would love to know. (I wonder about the speed of the liner that hit Herb Score way back in the day.)

    -The Baseball Collector

  2. Greg

    Vlad’s liner left the bat at something between 115 and 117 mph (not precise because I’m not sure exactly how far from home plate Soriano was wen he got hit.

    Prayers for Soriano’s speedy recovery…

  3. Greg

    I also figured out that it would have been going about 107-108 mph when it hit him. Way faster than anything a batter ever has to worry about, and without a helmet…

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