Human Limits. Startups Limits.

The “best” always makes everyone better.

“You know, scientists say that it’s not possible.”

“Well, I don’t think those scientists ever played baseball.”

- Comments from Hank Aaron on the rising fastball of Sandy Koufax in the movie Fastball

I’ve always taken pride in how hard I can throw. It’s one of the random joys I have, like throwing a spiral in football, or shooting a swish in basketball.

In this movie Fastball, they talk about how technology continued to evolve the game of baseball through the efforts of tracking how fast the fastest pitch is.

They started by having a video camera track someone pitching faster than a motorcycle driving at 85 mph.

Then Walter Johnson, who pitched the first “Scientifically recorded” pitch in 1912, using military grade equipment pitched at 122 feet/second. Which equates to 83 mph. Walter Johnson at the time, and still continues to be thought of as one of the greatest pitchers of all time, but as technology created a ceiling of what “Great” was, pitchers continued to exceed previous generations of baseball players.

The current fastball record is held now, by Arolis Chapman, he in 2010 pitched a fastball that hit 105.1 MPH. That’s not even the most fascinating thing, in 2017, 31 different pitchers pitched more than 100 mph. That means, that 31 different pitchers in 2017 pitched more than 17 mph over the fastest pitcher in 1912.

So, do we believe that human beings were capable of less in previous generations, or did the knowledge of what “Fast” was deliver an essence of “What is possible,” to the players, and those who were driven enough could continue to throw faster and faster, and change the way the game is played.

There’s a Chuck Klosterman essay where he talks about the progress of track sprinters:

“In order to answer this question, you have to think like a sprinter. And sprinters believe that — someday — somebody will run the 100 meters and the clock will read 0.00.”

“Over the past 40 years, man has improved his ability to run 100 meters by .37 of a second.”

“Bolt’s 9.58 is so low that perhaps no one gets close to it for a very long time, just like Flo-Jo’s record,” says Boldon. “But scientists are always wrong about this stuff. Scientists once believed that if a man ran a four-minute mile, his lungs would explode.”

The mind is an amazing thing.

(To be continued tomorrow with part 2)


By Adam Draper

I ponder as a VC.

It's a quick one minute read to make you think, smile, or laugh.

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