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Home » July 2012 Game CommentsJuly 2012 » Leap Second

Leap Second

David Ortiz stuck in a power slump? Adrian Gonzalez lagging in offensive production? Starting rotation woes? Relief pitcher meltdowns?

Blame the recent leap second.

This Saturday the International Earth Rotation and Reference Systems Service added a leap second to keep atomic clocks aligned with the earth’s rotation. Tidal action causes a slowdown of 1.4 milliseconds per day per century (for a more details read this explanation from the Time Service Department of the US Naval Observatory). The adjustment caused havoc for several websites and services: Reddit, StumbleUpon, Yelp, FourSquare, LinkedIn, and Gawker.

Dustin Pedroia was the first Red Sox player to adjust to the new time paradigm. As this graphic shows, a swing of a baseball bat takes 150 milliseconds. It takes 400 milliseconds for a 90-mile an hour pitch to travel from the pitcher’s hand to the plate. The first 100 milliseconds allow for the batter to see the ball and create am image of it in the brain. At 75 milliseconds the brain processes speed and location. Based on this information the batter decides to swing or not in 25 milliseconds and then takes the next 25 milliseconds to decide where to swing. After these decisions are made it takes 15 milliseconds to send the decision to the limbs.

At that point the batter only has to hit the three-inch orb within an eighth of an inch of the exact center, which is what Pedroia did to tie the game in the eighth. Ortiz was off by a few centimeters in the tenth but hit the ball square enough to sacrifice in Ryan Kalish.

Injuries, the Boston media, and timekeeping bureaucracies may try to keep the Red Sox down, but there is still a spark in this squad. Whether it is enough to start fireworks is the question.

Game 79: July 1, 2012 ∙ 10 innings
WinBoston Red Sox
W: Vicente Padilla (2-0)
S: Alfredo Aceves (19)
2B: Ryan Kalish (2)
HR: Dustin Pedroia (6)
Seattle Mariners
L: Brandon League (0-5)
2B: Justin Smoak (4)

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