Thursday, October 25, 2007

The Pesky's Pole

I have been attending games at Fenway Park my whole life. Games at this park tend to be more exciting than most because it is a hitter's park. The green wall (the Green Monster) in left field turns a lot of shots that would be caught in other parks into doubles.

The right field dimensions are interesting as well. The right side boundary of the very low wall (just a few feet tall) is Pesky's Pole. If you hit the pole, ground rules state that it is a home run. Right of the pole ... a foul ball. Left of the pole and over the tiny little wall ... a home run ... which I believe is the shortest distanced home run in the baseball of less than 300 feet from home plate. Some say it is a bit longer.

The Pesky Pole was named for John Pesky, a slap hitting infielder that played for the Red Sox from 1942 to 1952. He took a couple years out to service in the military during WW II. Can you see Alex Rodriguez serving in Iraq? Anyway, Pesky hit a career 17 home runs. One of Pesky's team mates, pitcher Mel Parnell, named the pole after Johnny when he hit a home run just left of the pole to win Mel the game. This came into popularity only after Mel became one of the Red Sox announcers later in the 1950's. Now it is a part of the Sox lexicon.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

The Minnesota Starvation Experiment

During World War II, many conscientious objectors sought a way to contribute to the War without actually participating in the killing. For many, becoming a medic was an option. They didn't want others to believe that they were not patriotic even though they would not kill for their country or for the long term goal of peace.

A group of conscientious objectors volunteered for an experiment at the University of Minnesota where they were subjected to starvation in a controlled environment from November 1944 to December 1945. While they starved, the experimenters gathered their vital signs and studied the effects of starvation on their bodies. The idea was that once the war was over, the results could be used to help feed the starving in the war torn parts of the world, particularly in Germany and in Japan. The Nazi concentration camps at the time were not confirmed yet and were filed away, by many, as rumor. But these studies did help in treating victims of concentration camps after they were liberated.

Since the discovery of the attrocities of the Nazis during World War II, much has changed. There aren't many event that have changed the world more than World War II. Resistance to human experimentation is one of the effects on the collective human conscience that has not gone away. Nazis used prisoners in some attrocious experiments that I prefer not to know much more about other than to know that to this day, we resist even voluntary human experimentation. We do very control and mild experimentation and nothing like the Minnesota Starvation Experiment.

To this day, some of the data that was collected is used to help treat humans affected by famine and the victims of eating disorders. It was quite a courageous thing they did and followed their conscience as well.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Colorado Rockies and the humidor

I am very impressed with what the Colorado Rockies did at the end of the baseball season this year. No one, including me, considered that they were going to be in the post-season this year. They just exploded and came out of nowhere at the end of the season. So if the Cubs and the Red Sox get illiminated from the playoffs, I will consider rooting for them or perhaps, I will root for any team playing against the Yankees.

In listening to the Rockies/Phillie game yesterday, I heard Rockies' stadium, Coors Field, referred to as the "humidor." I did some research and I found that they were not referring to the stadium but a device that is used to maintain the humidity of the baseball. Humidors are usually used by cigar shops to preserve the humidity of pricey cigars, the Rockies use it for baseballs. Coors Field has always been known as a hitter's park and conventional wisdom always pointed towards the altitude of the stadium. Apparently, it isn't the height, but the dry air. So the balls that they use in Denver, are stored in this humidor to keep the humidity of the balls constant so that they don't shrink. Since the introduction of the humidor in 2002, the offensive stats have decreased significantly at the park. But this is a trend that you could say about all of baseball not just Colorado. The decrease in the use of steroids probably have more to do with this.