Fun With Shapes: A Fan’s Mental Exercise

It’s that time of year again, time when players of Major League Baseball announce via their Twitter machines, Instagramophones and hacked email accounts that, hey, no foolin’, they’re in the best darn shape of their lives.

Now, I’m no geometer, but it seems to me that apart from, say, “broad-shouldered and narrow-waisted, with forearms resembling the Lord God’s in Michelangelo’s The Creation of Adam and with legs like those exclusive to Secretariat’s wet dreams,” one of the best shapes for a player to assume would be “round,” and by “round” I mean “perfectly round,” or, to put a finer point on it, though not too fine a point because then we’d be talking about the Cartesian coordinates and that would be pretty boring, “spherical,” because in all honesty, it would be funny to see the guy roll down the dugout steps.

Other interesting shapes would include:

– triangular
– square
– pyramidal
– five-dimensional hypercubic
– Gheorghe Muresan-like

Of course, when considering the potential shapes of big-league baseball players, one shouldn’t stop at pyramidal and Gheorghe Muresan-like, mostly because cylindrical and Benoit Benjamin-like remain provisionally available, even if Mr. Benjamin has graduated to a shape closer to that of a World War II-era dirigible. What’s more, geometry provides an endlessly flexible array of procurable shapes; if it didn’t, you would live in something that has assumed and maintained the basic configuration of a Paleolithic cave.

Additional interesting shapes would thus include:

– rectangular
– pentagonal
– ellipsoid
– five-dimensional simplectic
– Taco Bell Chili Cheese Fries Loaded Griller-like

Further, one of geometry’s key provisions is that of homeomorphism, which basically means that shapes aren’t uniformly rigid but, instead, remain foldable, bendable or otherwise poundable into other solid objects, provided that they preserve all the topological properties of the original object and also provided that you include the Taco Bell Chili Cheese Fries Loaded Griller in the “solid object” category because, as you know, you can pretty much transform any Taco Bell food item into any other Taco Bell food item with the addition or subtraction of, say, a chili cheese fry, and provided, too, that you agree to include people who eat, or appear to eat, said food items.

What the Mets are hoping, then, is that newly signed leftie John Lannan can take on the exact form of Clayton Kershaw – or, ironically, Bartolo Colon.




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John, who has also written under the pseudonym "Azure Texan," writes for both The Hardball Times and NotGraphs.


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