Thursday, 19 April 2012

How Old in Dog Years

Two nights ago, Colorado Rockies' pitcher Jamie Moyer pitched seven strong innings in defeating the San Diego Padres 5-2.

Moyer at 49 years of age (he will be 50 in November) thus became the oldest man ever to win a major league baseball game, breaking an 80 year old record.  For the curious, that record was set by Jack Quinn, of the Brooklyn Dodgers.

It's truly a remarkable feat.

Jamie Moyer made his major league debut in 1986, facing off and defeating the Philadelphia Phillies.  His opposing pitcher that day?  Steve Carlton.

To put it in perspective, six of the players on the San Diego roster were not even born when Moyer made his debut.  The Rockies themselves did not start play for nearly another decade.

Here is the box score for the June, 1986 game:

Batting AB R H RBI SO
   Tom Foley PH-SS 1 0 0 0 0
Ron Roenicke CF 4 1 3 0 0
   Greg Gross PH-LF 0 0 0 0 0
Mike Schmidt 1B 5 1 1 1 1
Von Hayes LF-1B 3 1 2 1 0
Juan Samuel 2B 4 1 2 1 0
Rick Schu 3B 4 1 1 0 0
   Darren Daulton PH-C 1 0 0 0 0
   Jeff Stone PH 1 0 0 0 0
Glenn Wilson RF 5 0 1 0 1
John Russell C 2 0 0 0 1
Steve Jeltz SS 3 0 0 1 0
Steve Carlton P 2 0 0 0 0
   Don Carman P 0 0 0 0 0
   Tom Hume P 0 0 0 0 0
   Kent Tekulve P 0 0 0 0 0
Team Totals 35 5 10 4 3

Steve Carlton, L (4-8)3.264442
Tom Hume1.132202
Kent Tekulve211111
Don Carman100001
Team Totals8107756

Batting AB R H RBI
Davey Lopes 3B 2 1 0 1
Shawon Dunston SS 5 0 1 2
Ryne Sandberg 2B 4 0 2 1
Keith Moreland RF 4 2 2 0
Gary Matthews LF 4 0 2 0
   Jay Baller P 0 0 0 0
   Jody Davis C 0 0 0 0
Leon Durham 1B 4 1 1 2
Jerry Mumphrey CF-LF 4 1 2 1
Steve Lake C 3 1 0 0
   Lee Smith P 0 0 0 0
Jamie Moyer P 2 1 0 0
   Dave Martinez CF 1 0 0 0
Team Totals 33 7 10 7

Jamie Moyer, W (1-0)6.185432
Jay Baller, H (5)110020
Lee Smith, S (9)1.210001
Team Totals9105453

Also on the Cubs' roster that day (though not playing) was Ron Cey.  Terry Francona was also on the Phillies at the time.  The losing pitcher (Carlton) began his career in 1965, in a game where Francona's father pinch hit. Carlton came on as a reliever for Bob Gibson.

In the nearly 26 years since, Moyer has pitched more than four thousand innings, and allowed 513 home runs, the most in the history of the game.

Moyer is a year younger than President Obama.  He's three years older than John F Kennedy was when Kennedy was murdered in 1963.

I'm 42 years old - seven years younger than Moyer.  I'm not a professional athlete to be fair, but I try to stay in some sort of shape.  I get a stiff neck from lifting my suitcases.

He doesn't look a day over 100.

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

100 Years - How Times Change

This past Saturday night/Sunday morning - the 14th and 15th of April - were the 100th anniversary of one of the most talked-about events of modern times.  No, not Snookie's impending maternity.

The calamity of the striking of an iceberg by the RMS Titanic and its subsequent sinking in the north Atlantic ocean in 1912.  The event, most recently "famous" from the James Cameron movie, occurred over several hours in the evening, the strike occurring just before midnight on the 14th, with the ship sinking about three hours later. Of course, as is well-known, about 1500 people perished, mostly succumbing to hypothermia in the cold water.

Setting aside Jack and Rose, my own memories of the ship centre on two things.

First, my father, who when I was a young child, had as a hobby, making small Revel models, mostly of WWI model planes.  Until my mother sold our home last year, I believe a model of Baron von Richtofen's red Fokker DR. I triplane, still hung from the ceiling of my brother James's room.  One of my dad's favourite models was a scale replica of the Titanic, and I remember him telling us many times the story of the ship.  Oddly, when discussing the sinking recently with my own six year old son, he asked the same question I remember asking my own father - when the people hit the water, why didn't they just climb out onto the iceberg?

Six year old logic remains somewhat constant, even if times do not.

The second is the Camp Hill Cemetery in my mother's home town of Halifax, in Nova Scotia, Canada.  Many of the bodies were not recovered in 1912, and in the cemetery is a large memorial to those lost at sea, Halifax being the closest city to the wreck site.  Walking from my mother's childhood home in Halifax to the Public Gardens adjacent to the cemetery, we would pause to look at the marker and listen to my father's stories about the ship.

At the centennial of the sinking, I am reminded how things have changed.  Compare the recent behaviour of the captain of the Italian cruise ship Costa Concordia, which recently ran aground in the Mediterranean Sea - who ran away as fast as he could, abandoning his ship - with Captain Edward Smith.  Or even better, those of passengers such as Mr and Mrs Isidor Straus, the owners of Macy's department stores.  Mr Straus, a first-class passenger, was offered a seat in one of the precious few lifeboats, but refused - the rules of the day dictating "women and children first."  His wife abandoned her own seat in the boats, commenting, "As we have lived, so shall we die.  Together."

To my mind's eye, the event is best summed up by Thomas Hardy's poem The Convergence of the Twain.

Well: while was fashioning 
This creature of cleaving wing,
The Immanent Will that stirs 
       and urges everything

Prepared a sinister mate
For her--so gaily great--
A Shape of Ice, for the time
          fat and dissociate.

And as the smart ship grew
In stature, grace, and hue
In shadowy silent distance
       grew the Iceberg too.

Alien they seemed to be:
No mortal eye could see
The intimate welding of
       their later history.
Or sign that they were bent
By paths coincident
On being anon twin halves
       of one August event,

Till the Spinner of the Years
Said "Now!" And each one hears,
And consummation comes,
       and jars two hemispheres.

Monday, 16 April 2012

The REAL Value of a Scientific Education

Came across this unusual piece today from the UK Daily Mail.

Dmitri Krioukuv, a physics professor at UC San Diego, upon receiving a $400 ticket, ostensibly for failing to come to a complete stop at a stop sign (i.e., the notorious "California stop"), set to demonstrate his writing a four-page proof, which was subsequently published.

The paper, dubbed "The Proof of Innocence Paper: A Way to Fight Your Traffic Ticket" used arguments about linear vs. angular velocity.

The judge was, apparently, more convinced by Professor Krioukuv conclusions - "the cops' perception of reality did not reflect reality" - than the local CHP officer, dismissing the ticket.

I was at best a B- student of physics in college, so I'll have to rely on the "hope the officer fails to show" approach.