I wrote with a bit more frequency in 2018, both for my own personal gratification and for work. We are almost three weeks into 2019, and I didn’t do a “best of 2018” post, even though my first THT piece for 2019 is up. I hope I can continue writing about “performance enhancement” and drugs and technology and bullshit supplements and pseudoscience, but I’m also trying not to be a one trick pony (and frankly, I think the public’s appetite for prohibited substances talk is satiated at this point).
So, here are a few things for your perusal that don’t require a FOIA:
Near and dear to my heart: as a woman in a STEM field, and as a woman on the fringes of baseball, I have a lot of thoughts about how baseball needs more diversity in the front office, and how MLB and individual organizations can make this happen. I was really looking forward to seeing how the first round of the MLB Diversity Fellowship Program would shape the second round, but I haven’t seen anything about a second round. But I will be optimistic, and I hope to hear success stories from the first group of fellows shortly.
We have spent so much time discussing the baseball over the last few years, but we haven’t considered what’s happening on the other side: wooden baseball bats have changed quite a bit over the years! And there’s a lot of potential for innovation. There is reason to think that modifications to the baseball bat could have an effect on performance, whether that’s humidity or the treatment of the wood or the finishing lacquer. If I were fabulously wealthy, I would start making baseball bats and paying to have them tested at the UMass Lowell Baseball Research Center or the Washington State Sports Science Laboratory. Baseball is a game of inches, and being able to propel the ball a few extra inches could mean the difference between a double and a home run. I sent many emails which were met with deafening silence (trade secrets are secrets for a reason), and the tour guide at the Louisville Slugger tour was circumspect.
I love organic chemistry, but I also love thinking about the other kind of chemistry: personal interdynamics. I think makeup and character play a huge role in clubhouse chemistry, but some teams are trying to cut corners by scaling back on the best way to assess personality. We can’t discount the effects of individual personalities on the team as a whole. Although it is impossible to measure overall clubhouse chemistry (and probably not worth the time and effort!), I do think you can apply some of the ideas and equations behind drug synergy to evaluate synergy, i.e., chemistry, between teammates. One thing I wish I had fleshed out a bit more: there’s a big difference between “chemistry” and synergy and being BFFs, and having complementary skill sets that work well together on the field.
And for something different, for Lady Science, I wrote about the role of gender in diagnosing and treating concussions: Impaired Judgement: Gender and Traumatic Brain Injury. It was a great way for me to mesh my interest in women’s health and science with sports.