Wednesday, May 6, 2009

I don't mind when Punto slides into first

I really don't. He thinks it's faster. I have no reason to doubt him. We have to assume that Punto knows better than anyone how fast he is to first base -- either running through the bag or sliding. You might think you know better than Punto, but that's just because your little league coach or some dude that has a blog told you so. But the truth is, you haven't done any time trials on Nick Punto running to first.

I have never played in an organized baseball game (I don't think this league counts), but I understand that you are told from little league to run through first. Scouts say the same thing. It's conventional baseball wisdom. But I suspect this is far more related to preventing injury than getting to the base faster. I'm sure someone, at some point in baseball's long history has tried to do an experiment to determine which method in general is faster, but I haven't seen one. And I definitely haven't seen one specifically for Nick Punto.

The main argument for sliding being slower: friction.

From I Dislike Your Favorite Team:

Now, granted--there are times when sliding into first is a good idea (tag plays)
but generally speaking it is not a good idea. Your feet are two quick moving
contact points--your front of your stomach is simply a drag-causing,
momentum-slowing obstacle. You might think this is obvious. You, probably, do
not drive all around town with the parking brake on, under the assumption that
it gets you places faster.

From Lost Forest After Dark:

However one frustration that will also rise to the top is Nick Punto's
proclivity to slide into first base on close plays. As anyone who has played
baseball or has a rudimentary understanding of physics, sliding into first is
slower than running through the base, not to say anything about greater
possibility of injury while sliding...

...No Nick Punto we don't think
you're a jerk, we just think you are stupid. The evidence is there both at a
theoretical level and based on experience. All your "hard work" and
"personality" can't change the laws of physics.

Mr Punto, your rebuttal?

From the Star Tribune:

I think when you dive, it's quicker, as long as you hit the bag before you hit
the ground, or simultaneously.

Boom. Punto just made the whole stomach-to-ground-friction argument irrelevant. He doesn't slide. He dives. Punto: 1 Physics: 0. Also, you have to hit the bag directly. It's not just a finish line you have to cross. So often on close plays, batters either stretch their foot out to touch the bag or shorten the gate of their last two strides to hit the bag. Both slow you down. And diving almost eliminates your chances of getting tagged out.

The injury argument is relevant, but if Punto is okay with it, so am I. I can't really fault a role player like Punto for sacrificing his body for something he thinks will help the team. If Joe Mauer wanted to slide head first, well that's a different story.

I guess the main point is people need to relax. I have no idea why his headfirst slide irritates so many people.

So Nick, I'm not usually a big defender of yours, but in this case...Iz got yur back.


brex said...

I think nick does it out of habit. It helps with tag plays but it is certainly not faster. If it truly were faster, then you would see track athletes diving into the finish line.

It doesn't annoy me either but I don't believe it's faster.

soup said...

Again, you are not crossing a finish line when you are running to first base. There is a certain place you have to step on. Also, in track, your chest is what counts going across the finish line. Otherwise you would see track athletes reaching their arms out.

Why do wide receivers dive on overhead catches? Wouldn't it be faster to keep in stride and hope you get to the ball?

Anonymous said...

Everyone knows Brex loves Punto and any statements he makes regarding La Punta are biased.

tfrezac2002 said...

It must be faster, other wise John McClane wouldn't dive out of the way of all those bullets.

tfrezac2002 said...

Also, the Twins sent down the worst player in the Central division today. ( ) I hope this means more playing time for Brendan Harris.

Daymonster said...

Brex, brex, brex.... so foolish. A) track athletes do "dive" forward, they do a last second lean so that their chest crosses the plane first.

Of course feet first sliding is slower, but I really don't understand why people are so sure that running through is faster, you take that momentum going forward and dive with your hands, which is longer than your stride.

But it is all about timing, if you do slide on the ground first it will unlikely be faster but if you hit the bag as you fall forward it should be. (like nicky said)

But timing is important for all aspects just like a half step or an extra long slide slows you down in running.

I've emailed mythbusters about this several times but they have yet to feature it.

jammyman said...

interesting timing. i just had a conversation with a guy that i coach football with about a story that one of our other coaches told him that may pertain to this argument:

Our head coach played in the CFL with Doug Flutie...backed him up at QB. He talked about how intensely competitive he was. He had to win everything. They would be running sprints (and it could be the last couple sprints) and he would literally dive across the finish line if he thought he was going to get beat. That proves it. Doug Flutie did it, case closed.

Seriously though, if it is done right I think it helps. If he hits his hand on the bag as he dives, and does not "slide" into it, it is legit. It may even work psychologically on the umpire.

Daymonster said...

Next time i'm in MN, anyone want to go to the old baseball field with the old stop watch and video camera?

Settle this once and for all.

bizmarkie507 said...

daymonster - I swear I saw myth buster do this. If if wasn't myth busters, it was some other knock off show.I remember they determined that not sliding is faster, but they did it wrong because they used second base and instead of running through the bag, they stopped at it, and slowed down in the process, so I was like, WTF? You didn't prove/disprove anything. Wait, I know Myth Buster's did it, because that asian side kick of theirs was running the bases.

Unless this was all just a crazy dream, because I've had countless dreams that are ridiculous, so it wouldn't surprise me if this was something I dreamed up.

jammyman said...

biz, this is what you are referring to. thanks to

On bases that you can’t overrun, it is faster to slide into them.
While a popular tactic used by baseball players, some speculate that sliding will actually slow a person down due to the friction being exerted between their bodies and the ground. With some coaching, the Build Team learned how to slide like baseball players. They then timed how long it would take to run to a base and slide to a base. The results showed that all Tory, Jamie, and Grant reached the base faster by sliding rather than running by several fractions of a second. The reason was because as they ran, the Tory, Jamie, and Grant had to slow down at the last second so that their momentum wouldn’t carry them past the base. With such definitive results, the Mythbusters agreed that sliding to a base is faster than running.

Different scenario. Good memory though, the show was aired August 8, 2007.

brex said...

Agreed, for 2nd, 3rd base sliding is a faster way to slow down hence you can run farther. Taking that notion further, the more you run the faster you are...Your feet pushing off the ground is maintaining your speed. The moment you stop pushing off the ground is the moment you start slowing down. Jumping to the base will not get you there faster.

Daymonster said...

I emailed mythbusters after that episode because I was so excited for it until I realized that they only did it for bases you can't run through. Also, you need to get people that actually know how to slide. Mythbusters has always had a problem with that, testing myths with just themselves. This is changing now as they got an expert swimmer to test a water vs syrup myth.

"The moment you stop pushing off the ground is the moment you start slowing down."

I agree, but that doesn't mean diving is slower. In between each step when you run you slow down a little bit of course. When you are running and you push off the ground, part of the energy is to push you forward AND to keep you up. so some of the energy is wasted while running on just keeping you up right, if on that last step (not even taking away another step from the run to first, except the one that hits first base) and utilizing the last one to propel of the energy froward(toward the bag) it should be more efficient.

Just out of curiosity, when you lead off and there is a pick off attempt at first, if you could over run the bag, would you think that was faster? Or would you still dive back to the base?

TwinsWin83 said...

In the case of Punto I would have to agree with Brex that more then likely Nick simply slides head first out of habit. Sometimes when you get into split-second decision making situations your instincts tend to kick in and you do whatever your conditioned to do. Punto probably has been sliding head first into first base for years and whenever he thinks its going to be a close play his instincts just take over and he slides head first.

Whether its faster or not Ill let you guys debate because Im not sure. All I know is I teach my players exactly what I was taught, dont slide into 1st base. What happens when the ball is in the dirt or gets by the 1st baseman? How much time are you going to lose getting up before being able to head to 2nd if the wild throw or error might allow for it?

bizmarkie507 said...

God damnit. I was sitting their, watching Slowey fall behind 2-0, and i said, welp here comes a Markakis bomb, and motherf*cking Slowey delivers.

Somebody tell me when the Twins are no longer frustrating to watch so i can start watching them again.

bizmarkie507 said...

And Daymonster, can you give me the link to that minnesota sports message board you made? We should try to get that thing to pick up some steam.

Daymonster said...

It's address is: sure how well it's ever going to pick up steam but that's okay.

Anonymous said...

Waters, I'll keep watching for you, but there is just so much that brings frustration and it always comes just when I think we're turning the right corner. After a 10-0 Twins win, I'm already leary of even catching a glimpse of the next game. In fear of an opposing rookie picking up his first ML win and no-hitter. What I'm saying is, I'll never tell you to start watching them again, because the frustration is just part of watching, and it sucks.

All of you. Go in to your backyard, put a line in your grass. Stand behind that line, then take the longest stride you possibly can and mark where your tippy toe lands. Then get back behind that line, and try to dive past the previous mark with your arms extended. Get back to me on how that goes... I'm on Punto's side.
Twinswin, I see your point in gaining the extra base, but you can't get to second without first being safe at first.


Anonymous said...

Even get a running start up to that line if you'd like.

Tail Chaser said...

I like the forum idea a lot. I just can no longer write full blog posts because I don't have the patience. Forums are awesome because I can just post without having to think about it. Plus it would be uber community.

Daymonster said...

Tail Chaser, go to and make a username. And let's get some discussion started.

I was thinking of maybe making a thread for each twins game and people can have a running commentary going, and then we could maybe even take the gems and make them into a blog post. Synergy!

bizmarkie507 said...

sorry daymonster im TC, just was logged into the wrong account, but yeah i like that idea a lot.

bizmarkie507 said...

I was thinking you should do some tweaking to it as well and delete some boards on there that we know will never have much activity, to make it easy as possible for random people to navagate it.

Maybe just a Twins Board, Vikings, Timberwolves, and uhh I guess Wild, and then a General Discussion Board. But thats just a thought.

Daymonster said...

not a bad idea. I'll look into it.

Anonymous said...

Manuelito! (aka Manny B. Manny)

Por que te apuras?