Home runs, climate change, confusing US sports – the Sceptic Tank investigates
So there the Tank was, watching Fox's baseball coverage, surrounded by peanuts and foot-long hot dogs, while quietly humming "take me out to the ball game".
Dropping our Statistics for Dummies manual that provides the only means of keeping up with the bewildering array of figures flickering across the screen, we lurched for the record button in order to capture this historic moment, only to find the hard drive clogged with back episodes of Beverly Hills 90210. No, we don't care what you say – it's better than ever.
Fortunately, however, the Daily Mail was alive to the situation and captured the moment for posterity, when commentator Tim McCarver wondered aloud whether climate change was causing more home runs.
"It has not been proven, but I think it ultimately will be proven, that the air is thinner now. There have been climactic changes over the last 50 years in the world, and I think that's one reason why balls are carrying much better now than I remember," he mused, pausing only to pump out a few bars of Baby Elephant Walk on a nearby Hammond organ.
"You know, the ball that Ramirez hit out and the ball Freese hit out – I didn't think either was going to be a home run, yet they made it."
Now, not only is this an employee of the Fox network acknowledging climate change on national TV, but according to one scientist McCarver's theory may not be the curveball it seems.
Robert Adair, a retired physics professor from Yale University and author of The Physics of Baseball, calculated a two-degree temperature rise would add one foot to a 400-foot home run, increasing the odds of clearing the fence by just under two per cent.
However, spoilsport Penn State climate scientist Michael Mann said increased amounts of emissions in the atmosphere would actually slow the rate of home runs, which is probably the argument most likely to convince Republicans to do something about greenhouse gases. Forget the hockey stick graph, this is the curve-ball theory.
All of which has rather interesting implications for the game closest to the Tank's heart – the game that baseball so badly apes, namely cricket. Is it any wonder so many sixes are clearing the ropes in the IPL's polluted arenas, for example? What if T20's runaway popularity prompts county grounds to become prime spots for heavy industry?
In the interests of cricket fans everywhere, the Tank, for one, will thank McCarver to keep his climatic theories to himself.
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