In the first round of the Home Run Derby yesterday, Mark Trumbo hit a home run. As the ball passed along its quietly majestic arc, Chris Berman was heard to remark that the ball was “on its way to Wichita”. On the surface it may have seemed that Berman uttered this insight because Wichita is quite far away from Kansas City, and that the ball that had just been hit had also traveled very far. Digging deeper, however, we see the roots of a paradox worthy of Zeno.
Provided at this point in the article, for contextual purposes, is a map containing both the cities of Kansas City, MO and Wichita, KS:
Furthermore, also via Google Maps, a satellite picture of Kauffman stadium in Kansas City:
Having pieced these facts together we can begin to see the complexity that was Mr. Trumbo’s momentous dinger; that, while facing roughly northeast, our hero managed to hit a home run in the direction of a municipality almost directly behind him. Such a thing might be impossible for an average man, but remember that we are dealing with the elite; today we speak of All-Stars.
Berman was, of course, not entirely correct in his statement; in the heat of announcing, he had miscalculated his coordinates and confused the orientation of the left field foul pole with straightaway centerfield. We can now, with the benefits of science, safely assume that Trumbo’s home run was on its way to Minneapolis or, if it were to continue its slice, the general vicinity of Winnipeg. But if we take the announcer at his word, and assume that he meant “toward” Wichita and not exactly “to” it, we have to take into account a new model:
In this case Mark Trumbo’s home run did not travel 420 feet, as was previously thought, but instead flew upwards of 130,542,720 feet (based on a calculation of 24,901 miles for the earth’s circumference, minus the 177 miles from Wichita to Kansas City). This is, however, the upper end of the spectrum, and assumes that the ball reached its midwestern target. If our only requirement is that the ball reach a point where it began moving toward Wichita, rather than away from it, the ball would need only to travel past the direct opposite side of the earth: in this case a lovely patch of ocean about a thousand miles off the coast of Perth. Thus we can conclude that the minimum distance of Trumbo’s home run would only be 65,271,361 feet, obviously still a new Home Run Derby record.
This may seem impressive – and I beg you, dear readers, to restrain your cynicism! – but we must remember that the ball Trumbo hit still exists in its current form, albeit in a revised location. Many of the other balls hit during the Home Run Derby, once they reached the stands, were simply referred to as “gone”, having as one must assume vaporized or incinerated as they reached the crowd. This is why the Home Run Derby is exciting! And dangerous.
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