But why does the ball even curve in the first place? That’s what my colleagues and I were there to find out, and Doherty did indeed learn us.
The answer boils down to the fact that the seams on a baseball “interact” with the air around the ball as it spins.
“It acts like a little rocket motor,” said Doherty. “The spinning ball throws air down and behind” it.
One thing that’s clear is that the ball must be spinning really fast, Doherty said. That explains why not everyone can throw a good curveball: It takes a lot of strength in a pitcher’s arm and wrist to make the ball spin so quickly.
Combining science and baseball… (insert Homer Simpson drooling sound)