The Mockingbird

Late Break

with 6 comments

There’s been some discussion in these parts over the years about “late break”, the idea that a really good curveball will travel relatively straight and then “fall off the table” at the last minute. The party line is that is just how hitters percieve the ball gradually gaining horizontal velocity on the way to the plate until it has the most when it is closest to the batter, and is a trick of perception like the rising fastball.

But here’s an optical illusion that could also have something to do with why we continue to hear descriptions of late, daring movement – apparently just seeing the spin on the ball actually affects the brain’s perception of how it is moving! And then peripheral vision really messes things up. Or something. It’s not really explained so well. But very cool, and fascinating to see some evidence that (at least to us) curveballs really do defy physics…


Written by halejon

May 14, 2009 at 6:13 pm

Posted in Seriousness

Tagged with ,

6 Responses

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  1. Okay, that optical illusion is pretty cool. I wonder if hitters could be taught to swing where they initially thought the curveball was going and ignore the “late break” effect?


    May 18, 2009 at 9:44 am

  2. […] One of my favorite things in this world is the game of baseball. I love the game, and I love my team, the Toronto Blue Jays. I was reading one of the many Jays blogs I follow, The Mockingbird, catching up on the posts I’ve missed since I left for Toronto to see some friends and catch a few games this past weekend when I came across this post. […]

  3. Can we PRETTY PLEASE get a look at pitch F/X from Papelbon’s 9th inning? The first strike on Rolen seemed WAY outside.

    Papelbon is all that is wrong with humanity.


    May 19, 2009 at 9:27 pm

  4. “Papelbon is all that is wrong with humanity.”

    Agreed. Or as Bertie Russell put it: “The problem with this world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent full of doubt”. (See: Miguel Batista as a closer…)


    May 20, 2009 at 3:48 am

  5. Wiffleballs: I guess that’s essentially what good hitters train themselves to do, no? From my personal experience with Wiffleball, trying to figure out someone’s Big Breaking Ball comes down to trying to ignore where you really think the ball is going and swinging where you know it will be…


    May 20, 2009 at 3:55 am

  6. […] tip to Deadspin (er… the Mockingbird) for the link to a post from Illusion Science, which explains the elements of the curveball that […]

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