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400 Magical Words on French Park Factors

Posted By Carson Cistulli On July 22, 2011 @ 12:30 pm In Big Idea,FranceGraphs | 14 Comments

Note: as a number of reader-commenters have suggested here, it’s very possible that the basepaths at the pictured stadium are only 60 feet long, therefore negating all of the inspired work you find in this post. This, once again, reveals why “facts” are harmful and ought to be ignored.

The Stade Jean Moulin in Savigny, France. Look deep into its essence.

A couple days ago, in response to a piece I wrote that waxed poignant on the pleasures of baseball and its capacity to constantly generate data of all sorts, reader/commenter/modern man Danmay noted that, perhaps stranger than one club hitting over half of a league’s homers is a club averaging almost a triple per game.

I can reveal now that the team hitting all those triples are the Lions of Savigny (or, Savigny-sur-Orge to be precise, a suburb of Paris), a club in the French Elite division (treated with awe-inducing prose here). I can also now reveal that, owing to the new technology of “drawing red lines on images from Google Maps,” it’s possible to determine if, in fact, the dimensions of Savigny’s home park, Stade Jean Moulin (whose dimensions are absent from internet), might influence the Lions’ triple totals.

But first, a test. Regard, below, an image of very famous Fenway Park (also courtesy Google Maps). Because we know (a) that home to first at Fenway Park is 90 feet and (b) that home to the left-field wall at Fenway is just over 300 feet, we can test our method to see if it works.

Which, that’s what I did. The line connecting home to first base here is 63 pixels long, or roughly 1.43 feet per pixel. The line from home to the left-field wall is about 210 pixels long. At 1.43 feet per pixel, that would suggest that Fenway’s left-field wall is approximately 300 feet from home. In fact, the published distance is 310 feet. Close enough for our purposes.

Now we turn our attention to Stade Jean Moulin. If we take for granted that the bases on a French diamond are also 90 feet apart, then we find that, in the image below, each pixel is approximately two feet. Using our patented drawing-red-lines-on-images-from-Google-Maps technique, we find that, using the scale of 2.0 feet per pixel, that the left-field wall is ca. 530 feet away from home — and dead center is 650 feet!

I know what you’re thinking, reader: “Sacre bleu!” And I know what else: “That seems like quite a bit of effort for a small and useless discovery.”

Small? Perhaps. Useless? Almost certainly. But, in fact, as Johan Huizinga notes in Homo Ludens, it is precisely because certain things are useless that we’re able to find pleasure in them*.

*Note: it’s possible that Huizinga writes nothing of the sort. It’s been a while since I read that book.


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