Over lunch, several Convergent Science employees – who happen to include fans of the St Louis Cardinals, the National League entry in this year’s World Series – came up with the idea of using the software to simulate Wainwright’s curve ball, says Rob Kaczmarek, the company’s director of sales and marketing. “Of course, [the Cardinals fans] went on and on about how Wainwright was going to demolish [the Red Sox] with his curveball. The seeds of simulating just what’s happening in that curveball were planted that day,” he says.
The simulation starts by subdividing the 90 feet of air from the pitcher’s mound to the plate into tiny cells, then simulates the ball cutting through these cells, and calculates the effect of each cell on the ball’s motion. "Wainwright, his pitching coach, or any other pitcher could use this tool – theoretically, at least – to analyze his motion and figure out the ideal release point (to the extent, of course, that any human can repeat a motion and release to the point of perfection every time)," writes Ron Miller.
Miller explains what that one company is doing, and briefly compares it to other options (in baseball and other sports) for analyzing performance in the effort to be just that little bit better. (He does not, however, delve into the topic of whether there ought to be a limit on such efforts; Malcolm Gladwell discussed that elsewhere in MAN AND SUPERMAN: In athletic competitions, what qualifies as a sporting chance?.)"
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