Jibber Jabber – Tech and baseball


Chad T. Jones, Public Affairs Officer

For all of its suck, technology truly is a wonderful thing.

Just the other day I was sitting in the empty pad prepping to watch the 2017 Home Run Derby, alone, when suddenly the phone started chirping. It had a different tone than the blaring house phone or the melody from a normal call on the cellie. It was a video call from the family.

The clan’s vacationing in Canada, which besides poutine, Tim Hortons coffee and a fine respect for baseball, also has first-world internet.

The whole group, along with the grandparents, was huddled around the basement television, eating chicken curry, speaking loud over nonsense, and watching baseball. It was like home without the expectation of correcting whatever went wrong — an advantage of being in another continent I guess.

Then, of course, the derby happened. What a spectacle of mash and muscle and hooah!

I wrote Aaron Judge was a modern-day Paul Bunyan, but goodness, even I, a middle-aged man, was left in a schoolboy’s awe of those 500-foot home runs, and thanks to the wonders of technology, I was able to share that awe with my two schoolboys and girl.

Far be it from me, a man who hadn’t seen a deployment in 17 years or ever had to face one while his family was at home, to go on about the uniting power of technology. But as a lifelong watcher of sports, I have no problem waxing about its value in the actual coverage of the derby.

I’m becoming particularly fond of exit velocity.

Now when it comes to sports statistics, I believe less is more. When it comes to baseball, I’m a 5X5 guy: home runs, average, runs, RBIs and stolen bases on offense; wins, losses, strikeouts, ERA and errors on defense.

The rest of the stuff seems like sabermetric jibber jabber created by agents and fantasy gurus.

Exit velocity, however, has value because I want to know how hard somebody hits a ball the same way I want to know how hard a pitcher throws it.

Thanks to technology, I can know both.

Sure, radar guns have been around for a while — blasted cops and their tickets — so we’ve always known how fast a ball was coming in. But before exit velocity, the only ways we knew how hard the ball was going out was home run distance, the crack of the bat and the naked eye.

Don’t get me wrong. I love general descriptions like “shots,” “blasts,” “ropes” and “cans of corn” when describing how hard a ball is hit. But sometimes, specificity is needed and provides context. So when I see a ball with an exit velocity of 119 mph like one of Judge’s home runs this year, I know it was hit 14 mph faster than I’ve ever driven a car.

It is not every day when technology provides such a boost to my enjoyment. But during the past few weeks, it is fair to say the winds of change, so eloquently laid out in the 1980s Scorpions hit, have been almost as warm as our current weather.

Watching the Home Run Derby with my family from afar and knowing a baseball was hit faster than my nerves are willing to travel are great things. They show the better days always promised to be ahead of us may already be here.

Long live tech and widgets.

If you have comments on this or anything to do with sports, contact me at chad.t.jones.civ@mail.mil or hit me up on Twitter @CTJibber.

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