A Baseball Optical Illusion

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A Baseball Optical Illusion

Postby bigvanilla » Tue Jun 02, 2009 12:58 pm

In last week's Mets game vs. the Washington Nationals, Daniel Murphy (1st baseman for NY) hit a fly ball to right field. The ball landed in play, bounced up against the wall, and was then thrown back into the infield and relayed to home plate to tag a runner trying to score from first base. (The umpire’s initial call was that it was a fair ball, in play. That was the correct call.)

Then things got interesting.

The NY Mets manager ran out onto the field and argued that the ball went out of the stadium (claiming it hit the advertisement on the second deck and bounced back onto the field). The umps got together and decided to review the play on video. (MLB rules state that umpires must see "clear and convincing evidence" in order to reverse a call. If they cannot see "clear and convincing evidence" they must keep the original call as called on the field.) When they returned to the field, they reversed the call and awarded Murphy a homerun.

The umps were duped by an optical illusion. (...you know those optical illusions which show a diagonal line entering into a box and on the other side of the box are two lines and you have to guess which line is a continuation of the original line? Well that is the sort of optical illusion the umps, announcers and sports media were all tricked by. The steep diagonals in the stadium walls and a dropped water bottle add to the eye deception as you follow the ball in its path. The announcers, umps and TV viewers all thought the ball changed trajectory. The umpires' official statement said the ball "clearly hit the sign and changed trajectory").

This is funny. And scientifically interesting.

What's interesting about this is that there were two video camera angles of the homerun. If you watch each on its own merit, it is nearly impossible to tell whether or not the ball actually hit the advertisement sign (yellow Subway Ad) on the second deck. But if you watch both angles and take in everything you see, you will see undeniable evidence that the umpires made the wrong call. Can you see the undeniable evidence which proves that the ball did not hit the Subway advertisement? If you can, you are in the minority. So far, every media outlet I have contacted disputes my logic. Now I need help from my peers.

You can view the video at mets.com or just paste this link into your browser:
http://newyork.mets.mlb.com/media/video ... 9&c_id=nym

One camera angle slo-mo starts st :32 seconds and the second angle at :42 seconds of the video.
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Baseball Optical Illusion.

Postby Don Blazys » Thu Jun 04, 2009 3:44 am

To bigvanilla,

The second camera angle does show a change in
the balls trajectory.

The outfielder was almost on the warning track and
was still looking up while facing the Subway ad.
Then, when the ball came down,
it came down from the opposite direction
and the outfielder ran towards the fence to get it.
(That outfielder must have had a good laugh out of this whole affair.)

Thus, it seems to me that it really was a home run.

However, I love mysteries, so I'm really curious as to
what "undeniable evidence" you found to the contrary.

Don Blazys
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Baseball Optical Illusion

Postby bigvanilla » Fri Jun 05, 2009 10:36 am

The second camera angle does show a change in the balls trajectory.

Don, thanks for the reply but there is no change of trajectory in the balls path and I will prove it "undeniably" below that what you see is actually an optical illusion.

Let’s call the camera angle at :32 of the video CAM 1 (left field view). And let's call the camera angle at :42 of the video CAM 2 (press box view).

When I originally watched the game, I was watching the replays (of the CAM 2 shot) several times during the umpires' review and I was convinced that it was "inconclusive" whether or not the ball hit the yellow sign. But one thing was for sure, if it did indeed hit the sign, it hit within the word "SUBWAY" on the left-hand side of the banner.

So far, I have stated this fact: After watching CAM 2 replay, the ball, if it hit the sign, hit within the word "SUBWAY" on the left-hand side of the advertisement. Do you agree so far?

Then, I saw a different replay. (CAM 1) This shows the ball pass by the yellow Subway ad in a completely different location. In fact, this replay shows the ball passing the sign somewhere within the word "FOOTLONGS" in the middle of the advertisement. It is impossible for the ball to have hit the yellow sign anywhere within 25 feet of the word "SUBWAY" on the left-hand side of the ad.

Fact 2: If the ball hit the yellow Subway sign, it should have hit it in the same spot on the sign regardless of which camera angle you are watching. This is undeniable evidence no? In other words, the ball did not hit the sign. If it did, it would hit in BOTH camera views. Not just one.

The optical illusion is in CAM 2 where it looks as if the ball changes trajectory. And since the ball hit nothing (it can't hit the yellow sign in 2 distinctly different places can it?) then it must have just continued its downward path. And if this is not undeniable evidence yet, you can always grab a ruler or any straightedge and follow the balls path. Or just look at the gentleman with the white cap in the front row above the word SUBWAY and you'll see he is not looking to catch the ball - he is looking down to see where it will land.

The science behind what happened: CitiField's height is significantly lower than Shea Stadium (Mets former park). This ball was towering. A mammoth shot to right-field. When it rose above the height of the stadium it hit a headwind, and developed an arrested arc. Something which we never saw at Shea. The right-fielder, Adam Dunn, who has been interviewed about the play and said the ball hit nothing, admitted he just misplayed it. When the ball hit the bat, he thought it was definitely a homerun and gave up on the ball, but admitted that due to the extension of the field in the right-field corner, he should've kept running and could have probably caught the ball had he not stopped.

The angles in the stadium walls and a dropped water bottle as the ball passed the outfield wall helped to achieve a most perfect optical illusion. It fooled almost everyone. And I find it fascinating that this optical illusion was convincing enough to fool the umps into changing the call to a homerun.

The "undeniable evidence" is this:
Two camera angles show the ball pass the yellow advertisement in 2 distinctly different places. This proves the ball did not hit the sign since it cannot hit the sign in 2 different places. Since there are no other obstacles in the ball's path, it must have been just a fly ball.
Also, but secondary, the ball lands on the filed and bounces TOWARD the outfield wall - not away from the wall which is what it would do if it was redirected back onto the field from contact with the ad.
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Postby JeffJo » Fri Jun 05, 2009 11:25 am

The ball never changed direction at all. It isn't an optical illusion, it is caused by mistake in what you assume the camera angle to be.

First, the indisputable proof: In the first replay (a third-base-side camera), at about 33 seconds and again at 38, you perceive a change in direction as the ball seems to hit the bottom of the letter "F" in "FOOTLONGS." In the second replay (a first-base-side camera), at 46 seconds, the impression of a change of direction isn't as strong. However, the ball is hard to follow as it passes the Subway sign. About all that is clear, and it is very clear, is that it passes between the letters "B" and "W" in "SUBWAY." That's about eight seats to the left of where it appeared to hit that sign in the first replay. If it hit the sign, those two positions would be the same.

Also convincing: Watch the original play-by-play. When the ball hits the ground, and then bounces, it is moving toward the Modell's sign. If it changed direction by hitting the Subway sign, as presumed, it would be moving away from the Modell's sign and bounce toward the right fielder.

What actually happened, is:
  • The first replay camera is zooming in as the ball approaches the stands.
  • You assume that you are looking at the wall from the vicinity of home, because you see what appears to be a wall perpendicular to your line of sight. In fact, it is impossible to tell what the angle is from the wall and the signs. Look at the people: their seats face what is probabably around second base, and they will be facing the ball. They are looking at a significant angle off to your right. That is where the ball is coming from.
  • As the camera zooms in, the ball enters your view about one foot above the sign. That is not much space to observe the right-to-left motion of the ball. But it is there. Run it a couple of times. You are looking at the fly from the side, not from behind it.
  • It is only below the sign that you look for the right-to-left motion. But because you think you are looking from home, you perceive it as motion that is actually toward leftfield. You assume that could only come from hitting the sign. IT DIDN'T.

There is no change in motion. You are loooking at a fly ball to deep right field, from a position between third and the left-filed foul pole. The motion you see is consistently toward the stands

The umpires made a horrible call, reversing this one. They are supposed to have indisputable visual evidence to do so, but just like in the NFL they are confused as to what that means. I'm not saying that is their fault - it is their job to make a call in every situation, no matter how ambiguous it is. So they use "It may be ambiguous but I would indisputably call it this way" instead of "The evidence is indisputable that it must be called this way" as their criterion fro changing a call. In this case, nobody actually say a change of direction, they just inferred one was there from faulty evidence.
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Baseball Optical Illusion.

Postby Don Blazys » Sat Jun 06, 2009 2:18 am

To: bigvanilla and JeffJo,

I looked at it again, this time on a bigger screen with better resolution,
and all I can say is...

Nice "detective work"!

The reasoning and logic behind your "undeniable evidence"
is indeed irrefutable.

The umpires were fooled by some unknown object
(possibly a water bottle... I still can't tell what it is)
that was dropped by a fan just as the ball was passing the
subway sign on it's way down.

It's as simple as that.

First, the eye follows the ball... then it follows the unknown object,
and that is what creates the illusion of a change in trajectory.

In other words, the subway sign temporarily camouflages
both the ball and the unknown object.

Then, as both the ball and the unknown object go passed the sign,
the eye naturally picks up on and follows
the slower unknown object instead of the ball!

I was hoping for a "mystery", but this is just as good.

It truly is a fantastic illusion!

That it didn't fool you is most impressive.

Don Blazys
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Location: La Crescenta Ca.

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