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2008-10-02 00:08

I’m not sure what it says about the standpoint from which I regard Major League Baseball on TV that the set of player statistics that draws my attention most—which statistics unfortunately no one actually compiles, so I just estimate to myself using words like “narrow,” “wide,” and “freakish” —consists of batters’ interpupillary distances.

Actually, I don’t regularly watch MLB on TV, at least not at home. Or, for that matter, any other sport. Or, for that matter any program, especially not those broadcast in real time. Frankly, I generally attend to my television’s rendition of a signal from elsewhere maybe once every couple of months. Broadcast TV programs and I just don’t have much interest in each other.

To whatever degree I do pay attention to MLB it’s mainly owing to the fact that my X has in recent years seemed incrementally to be morphing into the Jimmy Fallon character in Fever Pitch. Spending time at her house due to our mutual kids, I’ll find myself drawn occasionally to a televised performance of professional baseball she happens to be celebrating ritually and, infected by its inevitable narrative—not entirely unlike Oscar Wilde during his Greek Viva on the Passion,—I’ll be subsequently unable to suppress my curiosity about the narrative’s conclusion and driven later to switch on the broadcast at home.

I will inevitably watch baseball more during the post-season if I have a reason to care about the teams (for instance, that someone I care about cares about them), indeed as often as nightly when the Red Sox are playing, as they are right now, just cuz I’m from Boston, and it’s what we’re expected to do.

My amateur’s observation, at any rate, concerning interpupillary distances is that among great baseball hitters of the modern era hitters with incredibly wide-set eyes are overrepresented. I’m not saying they dominate that population. Yet. Just that there is a noticeably greater percentage of them than in the general human population. And my hypothesis is that wide-set eyes, specifically the binocular disparity they produce, should make it easier for the brain to locate moving objects in three-dimensional space swiftly and accurately, such as baseballs approaching at 95 m.p.h. If true, my hypothesis would predict that wide-set eyes would be overrepresented among champions of all sports that require instantly judging the position of rapidly approaching objects—tennis, jai alai, and handball, for instance.

Here’s some hastily compiled and suggestive (but by no means dispositive) evidence from among current players who are considered great hitters:

David Ortiz

Manny Ramirez

Vladimir Guerrero

Chipper Jones

Albert Pujols

Dustin Pedroia

Milton Bradley

Alex Rodriguez

Even those like Pujols, Pedroia, and Rodriguez whose inter-pupil distance isn’t freakish still have noticeably wide-set eyes.

UPDATE:
Looks like someone anticipated me by 70 years.


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