FanDuel - WFBC

August 06, 2007

Does Bonds have a mechanical advantage?: Michael Witte provides a pretty interesting analysis of the possible impact of Barry Bonds' elbow armor apparatus, and how it might benefit his swing.

posted by insomnyuk to baseball at 04:24 PM - 31 comments

The article makes some very interesting points. 75-100 seems to be a big number, but I could believe that it gives him an advantage not available to other players.

posted by PolarJosh at 05:11 PM on August 06

Blah, Blah, Blah. All the sports these days have so much more equiptment then what they stared out as. All to give that person, or team, an edge. Let's just remember that what's done today by one, will be looked upon by the young. Thus giving the green light for the future. So IF carefull thought isn't put into this, It's our own fault that sports can get so overwelmingly competitive, and end up out of control in some peoples eyes.

posted by robi8259 at 06:52 PM on August 06

robi8259: did you actually read the article? Is blah blah blah your summary of the article or simply your reaction to the way I worded the post? I thought the article made some good explanations of how the mechanics of the swing could be aided by a physical guide. What would really help would be side by side evidence carefully detailing the evolution of his swing, especially up to the point in 2001 where he got the final iteration of the armor and really started his record breaking pace.

posted by insomnyuk at 08:19 PM on August 06

No offense, but I really think this article should be filed under "Making crazy sh*t up". It's getting ripped up all over the place by people who have a better understanding of the sport (equipment, statistics, swing mechanics) that this guy. For example, here and here. I also look forward to the response Will Carroll (of Baseball Prospectus) will have out tomorrow.

posted by grum@work at 09:56 PM on August 06

No offense, but I really think this article should be filed under "Making crazy sh*t up". It's getting ripped up all over the place by people who have a better understanding of the sport (equipment, statistics, swing mechanics) that this guy. Are we sure this isn't some Onion-ish satire? I couldn't get that out of my head as I read through the article. Dude should stick to the drawing. And learn the difference between "rightly" and "rightfully." Or get a better editor.

posted by holden at 10:26 PM on August 06

Witte is a pitching mechanics consultant for the Cardinals, which happen to have the highest ERA in the National League. Maybe he needs to stick to his "expertise" of pitching and leave the hitting alone. If people don't like or want to criticize Bonds, they can. And they don't need to make up more crazy sh*t and statistics to do it. How in the world could anyone quantify a 75 to 100 homerun advantage?

posted by graymatters at 10:55 PM on August 06

I had a feeling Spike Lee was right all along. It was the shoes!!

posted by Aces Full at 12:08 AM on August 07

I'll leave the physics to the experts. However, the home run derby point is so ridiculous that I have little faith in the rest.

posted by justgary at 12:36 AM on August 07

Now, I'm no fan of Bonds, and I have wondered about the "extra" benefits of his protective guard myself. However, it seems obvious to me that if his brace really was a huge benefit, wouldn't we see many other power hitters trying it as well?

posted by dviking at 01:01 AM on August 07

I don't know much about baseball in general or Barry Bonds in particular, but that article could have been about anything under the sun and still have sounded like preemptively defensive piffle. It was vague in all the respects it needed to exact about: "Several years back [how many years?], baseball was rightfully [see holden] scandalized by the revelation that Sammy Sosa had "corked" his bat. The advantages conferred by the Bonds "hitting machine," however, far exceed [how far?] anything supplied by cork." It was hyperbole-ridden: "Barry Bonds is guilty of the use of something that confers extraordinarily unfair mechanical advantage..." "...his massive "protective" gear..." "I have studied his swing countless times on video..." ["countless" like the stars? The word doesn't mean that you didn't keep count, it means that it would have been impossible to do so on account of the sheer vastness of the number] In short, I posit that Mr Witte is a witterer and in this instance is talking through his baseball cap!

posted by JJ at 05:37 AM on August 07

Ok you want to do a fair comparison. Hand this out to all the ball players and let's see who can break the home run record next. My point was that with the equiptment used in sports, records can lose some of their luster. That's all!

posted by robi8259 at 05:52 AM on August 07

Here we go! Some knuckleheaded, conspiracy-theorist, that wants to add his two cents about the Home Run king. Granted, the protective grear worn by Bonds is by far the largest I've seen on a pro-baseball player but is that what really has helped him hit all those homeruns? I think not. Bonds has been hitting homers since the beginning of his hall of fame career and no protective gear is the sole reason for his record breaking dingers.

posted by BornIcon at 06:14 AM on August 07

"countless" like the stars I once had a grad student job counting stars on photographic plates at an observatory. They replaced me with a computer.

posted by owlhouse at 07:34 AM on August 07

As mentioned, the only advantage the device gives Bonds is confidence with regards to a pitch ruining his arm/elbow. Anything beyond that is ridiculous. If other players aren't allowed to wear such items, it's only because baseball doesn't want player after mediocre player standing on top of the plate trying to either get plunked or draw walks. First Bonds gets home run advantage by steroids, we are told, and now his arm brace? I'm not familiar with the writer's background in playing baseball, or more specifically, hitting 95 mph pitches 435 feet, but it's not something that's easy. Having a bulky thing on your arm isn't going to provide all the benefits he describes unless Bonds is, in reality, the bionic man. And the Home Run Derby reference IS just plain stupid. The fact that Bonds doesn't do well in such ridiculous events, in my mind, proves what a great hitter he is. If he was merely a pumped-up steroid freak, he'd be jacking balls out of the park every time he swung a bat, no matter if it's batting practice, off a tee, or in a game. Hopefully this home run record gets broken very soon so writers, or physics majors with too much time on their hands, can move onto other topics.

posted by dyams at 08:27 AM on August 07

CBS' Public Eye column also think it reads like something from the Onion.

posted by spira at 10:24 AM on August 07

If this thing really works, how much is the golf version? I'll take a righty and a lefty, just to be safe.

posted by The_Black_Hand at 10:41 AM on August 07

Rule 14-3 The United States Golf Association (USGA) reserves the right, at any time, to change the Rules relating to artificial devices and unusual equipment and make or change the interpretations relating to these Rules. A player in doubt as to whether use of an item would constitute a breach of Rule 14-3 should consult the USGA. A manufacturer may submit to the USGA a sample of an item to be manufactured for a ruling as to whether its use during a stipulated round would cause a player to be in breach of Rule 14-3. The sample becomes the property of the USGA for reference purposes. If a manufacturer fails to submit a sample before manufacturing and/or marketing the item, the manufacturer assumes the risk of a ruling that use of the item would be contrary to the Rules. Except as provided in the Rules, during a stipulated round the player must not use any artificial device or unusual equipment: (a) That might assist him in making a stroke or in his play; or(b) For the purpose of gauging or measuring distance or conditions that might affect his play; or(c) That might assist him in gripping the club, except that:(i) plain gloves may be worn;(ii) resin, powder and drying or moisturizing agents may be used; and(iii) a towel or handkerchief may be wrapped around the grip. Translation: No black elbows for The Black Hand

posted by JJ at 11:02 AM on August 07

Except maybe in the locker room.

posted by yerfatma at 11:06 AM on August 07

Except maybe in the locker room. I think you are confusing black elbows with bruised knees.

posted by holden at 11:23 AM on August 07

From the article: At the moment, Bonds' apparatus enjoys "grandfathered" status. Similar devices are presently denied to average major leaguers, who must present evidence of injury before receiving an exemption. It doesn't sound entirely implausible to me, although HR totals and such are clearly pulled out of a hat. If we focus instead on the idea that he got hurt, he was approved to use something to protect his elbow, and now it's changed and may provide a slight hitting advantage, I think the author might be on to something, especially since his elbow guard isn't available to everyone who wants it.

posted by chmurray at 12:52 PM on August 07

I think the author might be on to something... I just think he's on something.

posted by BornIcon at 12:58 PM on August 07

Here's a link to an interview of the maker of the Bonds device by Will Carroll at Baseball Prospectus in which the individual who makes the device basically debunks most of what's in the article. (Warning: the link is directly to the mp3 file and will presumably launch your default mp3 player.) In addition to debunking the mechanical analysis, the device maker interestingly also notes that Bonds arm hasn't changed in size (the device is very customized and requires precision measurements) since the mid- to late 90's.

posted by holden at 01:40 PM on August 07

In addition to debunking the mechanical analysis, the device maker interestingly also notes that Bonds arm hasn't changed in size (the device is very customized and requires precision measurements) since the mid- to late 90's. Good thing the thing doesn't go around his head.

posted by The Crafty Sousepaw at 01:56 PM on August 07

Barry Bonds... Baseball player... Barely the best hitter in the game ... Gentlemen, we can rebuild him ... we have the drugs and black elbow 'thingy' We have the capability of building the world's first Balconic Man Better, stronger, faster Barry Bonds is the 755 Man

posted by gradys_kitchen at 02:43 PM on August 07

In addition to debunking the mechanical analysis, the device maker interestingly also notes that Bonds arm hasn't changed in size (the device is very customized and requires precision measurements) since the mid- to late 90's. But...but...I was told he's much bigger now than he was in the mid-90s! "Just look at him!" was the phrase of choice. My whole world view is shattered! *cough* world's first Balconic Man Props to you, if you came up with that one yourself.

posted by grum@work at 03:27 PM on August 07

Good thing the thing doesn't go around his head. I'd say Jack's head grew just as much. I agree with Cuban. "Those of us who grew up pre cable, satellite and Internet don't know nearly as much about our sports icons from the early '80s and before as we think we do."

posted by catfish at 03:30 PM on August 07

I'd say Jack's head grew just as much. I agree with Cuban. "Those of us who grew up pre cable, satellite and Internet don't know nearly as much about our sports icons from the early '80s and before as we think we do." I wonder if the well is permanently poisoned a la Ty Cobb or if Barry can enjoy some late-career or post-career character rehabilitation a la Ted Williams.

posted by holden at 03:49 PM on August 07

You mean if we cut off his head and freeze it? That might buy him some sympathy if he's still alive when we do it. [Daniel Pearl Trophy joke excised - ed.]

posted by yerfatma at 04:26 PM on August 07

I remember the glory days of '95 - '97, when we thought the ball was juiced. Salad days, people, salad days.

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 07:54 PM on August 07

Salad days, people, salad days. Wouldn't those have been protein powder shake days Weedy?

posted by tommytrump at 09:41 PM on August 07

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