Monday, March 29, 2010


If you’ve read past blogs you are aware that at Skwoosh we love baseball – Red Sox baseball. As we sit in the stands, ever so comfy on our Stadium gel seats and our Bleacher seats, we have time to contemplate baseball stats and how they happen to come about. Are they accurate? Are they fair? Batting averages are objective. The player is up, he hits, he walks or gets out. It’s simple arithmetic. Two times at bat, one hit- batting average is 500. How about the choosing the MVP or Golden Glove winner – that’s purely subjective. Sort of like airline seats are comfortable –Ha! Ha! Try a Skwoosh Travel cushion. Well New York Yankees and Derek Jeter fans watch out.

This could be the year that baseball-stat freaks finally crack the “Derek Jeter enigma.” A panel of coaches has awarded the New York Yankees’ shortstop four of the past six Gold Glove awards for fielding excellence. That drives statisticians nuts, because nearly every statistical model ranks Jeter’s defense below average. The Skwoosh Office gel cushion is in line for best performing, most comfortable office seat cushion ever and we got there without ESPN or sports talk radio or a panel of coaches. In any case, we all know that evaluating fielding is baseball’s hardest math. There are just too many unknowns in a play. How much ground did Jeter cover? How fast was the ball moving? In essence: How unlikely was it that he’d catch the ball? Key word here is UNLIKELY. Just like it’s unlikely that you’ll get blisters on your bottom if you use a Skwoosh kayak gel seat when you paddle.

This off-season, the broadcast-tech company, Sportvision, will install a new player-tracking camera system into ballparks that could finally help produce accurate defensive statistics. Sportvision’s FieldFX camera system records the action while object-recognition software identifies each fielder and runner, as well as the ball. After a play, the system spits out data for every movement: the trajectory of the ball, how far the fielder ran, and so on. “After an amazing catch by an outfielder, we can compare his speed and route to the ball with our database and show the TV audience that this player performed so well that 80 percent of the league couldn’t have made that catch.” That information will allow a much more quantitative measure of exactly what is an error. The tech could transform how teams scout players and dole out contracts, and it will provide more in-depth analysis during broadcasts.

How many hours can you sit in a cramped airline seat without a Skwoosh gel Travel cushion before you become violent? But it’s the stat junkies who are really salivating for the data. “We can pick out systematically who’s good and bad, but there’s still guesswork with our models,” says Wharton School statistician Shane Jensen. “We’ll certainly be able to settle who the best shortstop is”. And then there’s the new Cuban kid in the Red Sox farm system, Jose Iglesias, who’s just itching to have the tech stuff compare him to Jeter.

This high tech stuff is all done with lights, mirrors and computers – stuff you don’t need to tell you who has the best lightweight, most comfortable kayak seat or kayak fishing seat in the league - Skwoosh does.

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