Sliding Into Base Is Faster Than Running

posted: 04/11/12
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As seen in "MythBusters: Baseball Myths."


Explanation: In 1865, Philadelphia Keystones player Eddie Cuthbert was credited with the first sliding stolen base in a game against the Brooklyn Atlantics. Since then, baseball players have been arguing that it's faster to slide into a base than to run there.

So, when a player gets down and dirty, does the friction cost precious time? The MythBusters went for a slide — baseball cleats and all — to test this and learned a physics lesson in the process.

As you run to base, your body's mass combined with your speed creates momentum, which changes into angular momentum as you slip into a slide, so the friction created with the ground doesn't slow you down as much as you might think. You may lose a little speed, but keeping your body stretched out may enable you to touch base sooner than if you kept running the whole way.

Before you get a brain cramp, here's how running can put you behind. If you stay on your feet, your momentum will try to keep powering you forward as you near the base, so you'll slow your speed to stay upright when you stop on base — adding time to your sprint.

Because even a few milliseconds can mean the difference between "safe" and "out," this myth hits the bag.

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