The cyborg of the Red Sox

Video technology has transformed the way athletes train for sports, because they can review their performance — and that of their opponents — in nuanced, frame-by-frame detail. But most athletes can only do this after or before a game is over.

The exception is David Ortiz — who studies video in near real-time, while a game is still ongoing. Ortiz is a designated hitter for the Red Sox, and each time he bats, he heads back to the clubhouse, cracks open his laptop, and studies the pitches that were being thrown at him mere minutes earlier. Better yet, according to this piece in the New York Times, he’s apparently got a huge database of every pitch he’s ever faced:

With one click, Ortiz can also watch every at-bat that he has ever had against Sabathia in case he wants to search for a specific pitch. The batter-pitcher history compiled by the team is condensed to only include the pitches, not any tosses to first or visits from the pitching coach. It is all meat, no filler.

As the game progresses into the later innings and Ortiz speculates that he might oppose a left-handed reliever like Rafael Perez, he will study the at-bats that he has had off Perez. To Ortiz, knowledge equals power.

“That’s the real deal,” Ortiz said. “That’s the view of what you want to do differently from what you did before. If you see something good, you want to stick with it. If you do something wrong, you want to fix it.”

Personally, I think it’d be interesting to just blow things open completely and let pro sports athletes don wearable computers with craploads of telemetry: 360-degree radar, infrared vision, instant playback, voice messaging. Just imagine the sick plays they could pull off!

blog comments powered by Disqus

Search This Site


I'm Clive Thompson, the author of Smarter Than You Think: How Technology is Changing Our Minds for the Better (Penguin Press). You can order the book now at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Powells, Indiebound, or through your local bookstore! I'm also a contributing writer for the New York Times Magazine and a columnist for Wired magazine. Email is here or ping me via the antiquated form of AOL IM (pomeranian99).

More of Me


Recent Comments

Collision Detection: A Blog by Clive Thompson