Alvin Chang

Field Of Seems

Re-live America's great past time, one pitch at a time.

Introduction to Computational Media

The user will select a Major League Baseball pitcher, and be able to watch an animation of pitches he has thrown in a real-life game. Users will see the speed, location and break of each pitcher -- but not from the TV angle; from the catcher's view!

This uses a database called Pitch f/x, which tracks data at MLB parks using dozens of cameras.

The ball turns red once it crosses the front of the plate, allowing you to judge balls and strikes. Because the pitches come in so quickly, you can turn on the "Ball Tracker," which allows you to see each frame of the pitch.

Several baseball sabermetricians use the Pitch f/x database to create static images, charts and graphs. But there has yet to be an animated tool available to the general public. The closest might be what we see in baseball videogames, but those don't allow you to go back and view pitches recorded at real baseball parks.

While the audience for Pitch f/x has generally been limited to hardcore baseball fans who are fairly proficient with numbers, the target audience for this is the traditional baseball fan -- dads, grandpas and uncles.

User Scenario
You've just finished watching the Yankees/Red Sox game. The Red Sox won on a walk-off homerun off of Mariano Rivera. You're a Yankees fan. You're pissed. But you want to know what went wrong, so you love onto Field Of Seems and watch the animation of Rivera's pitches. And you can see that he didn't have his A-game today. Just to make sure, you bring up yesterday's game and watch the pitches. They were faster, and the break was sharper.

Using Field Of Seems, you can do this with every game, every pitcher and every pitch.

It's made using Processing and the OpenGL library. Right now, the program gives you a finite choice of seven pitchers. In the future, it will allow you to pick any pitcher -- and any pitch -- from the past five years. In addition, there will be a "catcher game" added to the program. Using a webcam, it will allow users to try to "catch" the ball with an impromptu mitt using color detection.

Math is important. There's a notion out there -- especially in the journalism world, where I come from -- that beauty can be harvested without math. In fact, it is thought math is ugly; it's sterile. However, creating a beautiful pitch arc or an organic bezier curve requires hardcore math. I pulled out all my math guns for this project, but I'll have to do some more studying before I can advance it any further.