Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Nick Punto Doesn't Believe in Your Friction

There is a lot I like about the way the Twins play the game of baseball--the solid defense, the stringing together of timely hitting, the spirit of camaraderie that doesn't feel forced.  But there is one aspect of the Twins lineup that drives me nuts--and that is the Hard-Working Hustle of Nick Punto, especially when it is demonstrated via his slides into first base.

Now, granted--there are times when sliding into first is a good idea (tag plays) but generally speaking it is not a good idea.  Your feet are two quick moving contact points--your front of your stomach is simply a drag-causing, momentum-slowing obstacle.  You might think this is obvious.  You, probably, do not drive all around town with the parking brake on, under the assumption that it gets you places faster.

Nick Punto is not like you.  For Jim Souhan's column in the Star Tribune:

"For some reason, I think it's faster," he [Punto] said. "For all the people who have told me it's not, I still think it is.

"We'll never know. Until there is a swimming pool at the end of the 100-meter dash, we'll never know. Who's going to dive onto a corked field on a 100-yard dash? Nobody."  

You know why no one is going to dive onto a corked field at a 100-yard dash pace, Nick?  Because suddenly adding that big of a drag onto something moving that fast would fucking hurt. And that pain comes from the sudden addition of a lot of friction; you don't get burn marks from running on your feet.  You get them sliding.  You get lots of injuries from sliding, and they are all due to the fact that you are putting more of your body mass on the ground.  And Punto knows this!  Consider this little exchange for the same piece. 

"Asked how many times sliding into first base has injured him, Punto said, "'I don't want to answer that.'"

I can't believe I have to root for this idiot.  


Jess said...

I just can't believe that someone didn't knock that stupid idea out of his head years ago.

When we learned out how slide in softball (on cardboard, into the wrestling mats in the gym), our coaches pounded it into our heads that there is no good reason to slide into first and to never slide headfirst into any base. BECAUSE THAT IS HOW YOU GET HURT, NICK PUNTO.

Nick Punto is teaching a generation of young, baseball-playing Twins fans bad sliding practice, if the dumb little kids on my nephew's team are any indication.

Louis Lipps Sinks Ships said...

In Nick's defense, there is less wind resistance when you're horizontal than when you're vertical.

Sammy said...

While it's true speed wise it's not quicker, the difference is negligible. Alternately, as umpires often use visual as well as aural evidence to make a call (smack of ball in glove versus thud of foot on base), the head-first slide makes bang-bang plays at first a lot more difficult to judge for umpires which is why it can be an effective tool if used correctly. I wouldn't advise using it every time but how does it promote injury any more than sliding into second on a steal?

Robbie the HIV Alomar probably got 5+ extra hits a year by sliding into first, not because he was safe, but because the ump blew the call and called him safe. Although I'm not sure who blew him to make him test positive.

Big Blue Monkey 2: The Quickening said...

Sammy, I don't know how you worked in an HIV joke, but I applaud you for it.

(Punto gets injured at first at least in part because he always slides head first, and jams his fingers into the base. Yes, it is just as likely at any other base, but the injuries that result from his first base slides are more painfully stupid. He has missed weeks of baseball because of it.

The Black Freighter said...

And Nick Punto missing weeks of baseball is a bad thing?

And bravo on the HIV reference, bravo!