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Posts Tagged ‘baseball

“You can’t criticize geometry. It’s never wrong.”*…

 

In the world of mathematical tiling, news doesn’t come bigger than this.  In the world of bathroom tiling – I bet they’re interested too.

If you can cover a flat surface using only identical copies of the same shape leaving neither gaps nor overlaps, then that shape is said to “tile the plane.” Every triangle can tile the plane. Every four-sided shape can also tile the plane.

Things get interesting with pentagons. The regular pentagon cannot tile the plane. (A regular pentagon has equal side lengths and equal angles between sides, like, say, a cross section of okra, or, erm, the Pentagon). But some non-regular pentagons can.

The hunt to find and classify the pentagons that can tile the plane has been a century-long mathematical quest, begun by the German mathematician Karl Reinhardt, who in 1918 discovered five types of pentagon that do tile the plane…

Pentagons remain the area of most mathematical interest when it comes to tilings since it is the only of the ‘-gons’ that is not yet totally understood…

Read the whole story– and see all 15 types of pentagonal tilings discovered so far– at “Attack on the pentagon results in discovery of new mathematical tile.”

* Paul Rand

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As we grab the grout, we might recall that it was on this date in 1953, after a year of experimentation, that marine engineer and retired semi-pro baseball player David Mullany, Sr. invented the Wiffleball.  (He patented it early the following year.)  Watching his 13-year-old son play with a broomstick and a plastic golf ball ball in the confines of their backyard, Mullany worried that the effort to throw a curve would damage his young arm.  So he fabricated a full- (baseball-)sized ball from the plastic used in perfume packaging, with oblong holes on one side… a ball that would naturally curve.  The balls had the added advantage, given their light weight, that they’d not break windows.

David Jr. came up with the name: he was fond of saying that he had “whiffed” the batters that he struck out with his curves.  The “h” was dropped, the name trademarked, and (after Woolworth’s adopted the item) a generation of young ballplayers– and their parents– converted.

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Written by LW

August 14, 2015 at 1:01 am

“Nobody is a villain in their own story”*…

 

The New and Complete Newgate Calendar or, Villany displayed in all its branches. Containing accounts of the most notorious malefactors from the year 1700 to the present time, Vol.1, By William Jackson; 1795; A. Hogg in London.

Comprised of the tales of both famous and lesser-known criminals from the 18th and 19th centuries and named after Newgate Prison in London, the Newgate Calendar became one of the most popular books of its day, said to be as much a part of the British household as the Bible. Born out of broadsides – so called single-sided sheets with ballads, biographies or last-minute confessions sold at public executions and fairs – the Newgate Calendar tells the fates of murderers, fraudsters, robbers, and traitors and how they fell from virtue to vice. While collections of these stories appear during the mid-18th century, the first one titled Newgate Calendar was published in 1773. There are many versions of the Newgate Calendar existing under slightly different names, and in 1824, a new edition was published by two lawyers, Andrew Knapp and William Baldwin, who later published another version called The New Newgate Calendar in 1826. The book was considered educational, teaching children what would become of those who broke the law, but the public’s’ fascination with the rogues of the day led to so called Newgate Novels, published between the late 1820s to the 1840s with melodramatic or glorified tales of the criminals featured in them.

Page through this almanac of admonition at The Public Domain Review.

* George R. R. Martin

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As we walk the straight and narrow,** we might recall that it was on this date in 1915 that George Washington “Zip” Zabel set the record for most innings pitched in relief in a single baseball game.  He came into the game in relief for Bert Humphries with two out in the first inning of a 19-inning game; Zabel pitched the final 18⅓ innings to earn the win over the Brooklyn Robins (later the Brooklyn, now the Los Angeles Dodgers) and their pitcher Jeff Pfeffer, who threw the complete game.

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** probably an alteration of strait and narrow; from the admonition of Matthew 7:14 (Authorized Version), strait is the gate and narrow is the way which leadeth unto life” [source]

 

Written by LW

June 17, 2015 at 1:01 am

“If you cannot get rid of the family skeleton, you may as well make it dance”*…

 

The McIlhenny Family
The Business: Tabasco hot sauce
The Fortune: The company’s net worth is estimated at $2 billion to $3 billion. (At $2.5 billion, that’s 626,566,416 five-ounce bottles of original Tabasco).
A Brief History: In 1868, Edmund McIlhenny of Avery Island, Louisana, crafted a sauce made from salt-fermented tabasco peppers to pep up “bland” Southern food. Two years later, he received a patent and began expanding the business, focusing on restaurants and “men’s clubs.” The fact that there were few competitors at the time helped Tabasco gain ground quickly. The company has stayed within the family for five generations.
Amateur Hour: Consumers originally complained that McIlhenny’s sauce was too hot, because they applied it “liberally,” like ketchup—that’s why the bottle is fitted with a slotted slow-release top.

From well-known eponymous brands like Mars and Entemann’s to more discrete families like the Albrechts (Trader Joe’s) and the Unanues (Goya), Bon Appétit runs down the family dynasties that rule the grocery aisles, restaurant kitchens, and dinner tables of America: “The Richest, Most Powerful Families in the Food Business.”

* George Bernard Shaw

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As we strategize our approaches to the buffet table, we might send epigrammatic birthday greetings to Lawrence Peter “Yogi” Berra; he was born on this date in 1925.  Berra played almost his entire 19-year baseball career (1946–1965) for the New York Yankees. Berra is one of only four players to be named the Most Valuable Player of the American League three times; according to  sabermetrician Bill James, he is the greatest catcher of all time and the 52nd greatest non-pitching player in major-league history. Berra went on to manage the dynasty of which he was a crucial part, the Yankees, and then the New York Mets; he is one of seven managers to lead both American and National League teams to the World Series (as a player, coach, or manager, Berra appeared in 21 Fall Classics). He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1972.

Berra is also remembered for the “unique”  observations on baseball and life with which he graced reporters during interviews:  e.g., “Baseball is 90% mental, the other half is physical,” “It’s déjà vu all over again,” “You can observe a lot by watching,” and “The future ain’t what it used to be.”  In The Yogi Book, Berra explained, “I really didn’t say everything I said. […] Then again, I might have said ’em, but you never know.”

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Written by LW

May 12, 2014 at 1:01 am

“Wear your heart on your skin in this life”*…

 

Opening this week at the Quai Branly Museum in Paris, ”Tatoueurs, Tatoués” (Tattooists, Tattooed) features 300 works of tattoo art, sourced from the 18th Century to the present day, and from around the world.

Captain Costentenus tatooed by order of Yakoob-Beg, 19th century © Fonds Dutailly, Ville de Chaumont

Traditional Japanese tattoo © Photo: Tatttooinjapan.com / Martin Hladik

Read more about the show, and see more of its offerings, at “Tatoueurs, Tatoués: The Biggest Tattoo Art Exhibition In The World.”

* Sylvia Plath,  Johnny Panic and the Bible of Dreams: Short Stories, Prose, and Diary Excerpts

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As we concede that it’s all about the ink, we might recall that it was on this date in 1925, in the ninth inning of a game against the St. Louis Cardinals, that Glenn Wright, shortstop for the Pittsburgh Pirates, completed an unassisted triple play: with runners on first and second, Wright caught a line drive, stepped on second base before the leading runner could return to the bag, and tagged out the runner who had been on first.  This is a feat that has been accomplished, in the history of Major League Baseball, only fifteen times– making it rarer than the pitching of a perfect game.

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Written by LW

May 7, 2014 at 1:01 am

“By blood a king, in heart a clown”*…

 

Readers will remember Arthur Drooker, photographer-extraordinaire of conventioneers.  His most recent foray will reassure those who’ve been worried at the prospect of a clown shortage, even as it horrifies those with coulrophobia…  Drooker’s most recent stop in his quest to capture the best and most spirited conventions nationwide for his forthcoming book Conventional Wisdom was the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Northbrook, Illinois, where he dove into the annual gathering of the World Clown Association (WCA).

Read all about it, and see more of Drooker’s photos, at “Conventional Wisdom: World Clown Association.”

* Alfred Lord Tennyson

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As we practice our pratfalls, we might recall that it was on this date in 1910 that President William Howard Taft inaugurated a long-standing tradition: he threw out the ceremonial first pitch in the baseball game that began the major league season.

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Written by LW

April 14, 2014 at 1:01 am

Batter Up!…

Walt Whitman once said: “Baseball is our game — the American game: I connect it with our national character.” Still, as Foreign Policy observes

As baseball has skyrocketed to popularity in other countries, particularly Japan and Latin American nations, the days of the United States claiming it exclusively are long over. The sport’s premier international tournament, the World Baseball Classic, featured 12 teams from across the globe this year, with the Dominican Republic coasting undefeated all the way to a championship. The tournament set ratings records in Japan, where it was the most-watched sporting event of the year and even out-performed the 2012 Olympics. In Taiwan, the WBC was the highest-rated cable program in the country’s history.

So, as one settles in for Game Three of this year’s Fall Classic– The Battle of the Beards— one might pause to consider Baseball’s place in the world

A pick-up game in Havana, 2006

[More photos– from South Africa to Iraq to China– at FP]

Baseball has an estimated 500 million fans around the world… which ranks it seventh overall.  To put that in context, the number one sport, football (or “soccer” as Americans are wont to call it), has 3.5 billion fans; the number two pastime, Cricket, 2.5 billion.

Plus– in this anniversary month of the first box score, a new site called Statlas, updates scoring, turning box scores into infographics.

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As we step up to the plate, we might recall that it was on this date in 1863, at The Freemasons’ Tavern on Great Queen Street in London, that the Football Association (or simply, the FA) was established; after centuries of football rules that varied from pitch to pitch, the FA established a single set of rules that has governed the game in England ever since.  And given that it is the oldest such association in the world, its rules and procedures have shaped the game all over the world.

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Written by LW

October 26, 2013 at 1:01 am

Let the games begin…

 

 click here for larger interactive version

If every state in the union had to choose an official sport, what would they pick? Football, football, lacrosse, football, skiing, football, football … and Alaska gets the one with sled dogs. But what if you had to assign one sport to each state, and could use each of those sports just once? How would you disperse our favorite pastimes among the 50 states and Washington, D.C.?

Now that’s a more interesting parlor game. Only 12 states have bothered to name any kind of “official sport,” which leaves a lot of room to impose one’s sporting will on the American people…

And that’s exactly what Josh Levin, executive editor at Slate, has done.  Read the rules he followed and explore the results in detail at “The United Sports of America- If each state could have only one sport, what would it be?

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As we oil our wheels, we might recall that it was on this date in 1845 that the first known baseball box score appeared in the New York Morning News, a month after the first set of rules were written by Alexander Cartwright and some his fellow Knickerbockers.

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Written by LW

October 22, 2013 at 1:01 am

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