(Francona, studying the numbers)
No offense to the current Red Sox manager, but unless the town of Marlborough has changed wildly since I last passed through, it would take an entire gang of Stevie Hawkings to effect serious change in math class.
Yesterday, math became a little more fun for Marlborough’s middle school students, courtesy of their surprise substitute teacher, Red Sox manager Terry Francona. He visited the middle school yesterday as part of Raytheon Co.™s MathMovesU program, an effort to get more middle schoolers engaged in math.
“Some people might think that success in baseball is all about maybe one lucky swing, or one perfect pitch, or all about base running,” Francona said. “I™m here to tell you that almost everything in baseball is calculated and planned, and a lot of that is using math.”
As it faces the challenge of finding enough qualified engineers and scientists, Raytheon™s program is trying to prepare more students for math and science careers to prevent future shortages.
Francona™s visit to the school was a surprise for the students, and they erupted in cheers as Francona appeared in the school auditorium.
In his pep talk about math, Francona tossed the students a few math problems featuring Red Sox players. For instance: If Coco Crisp hits a double, then tries to steal third but only makes it halfway the first time, before stealing successfully on his next attempt — how many total feet has he traveled to reach third base? The answer, he told the students, is 360 feet.
Francona said the team uses math to determine when a player should try to steal bases, given Sox statistics and those of the opposing team. The average running time for stealing second base is 3.2 seconds, he said, and then he tries to figure out how quickly the ball can get there to determine if the risk is worthwhile.
“We try to calculate all of those numbers quickly in the dugout to see if the advantage is to us or the other team when we talk about stealing bases,” Francona said. “It™s not just putting up a sign and letting a guy run. There™s a lot of math that comes into play.”
I don’t know how Joe Morgan feels about evolution being taught in the public schools, but he might demand equal time if Tito persists with this sort of lesson plan.
Francona’s sponsor for the day, Waltham, MA based Raytheon, are one of the nation’s biggest defense contractors. This autumn, NBC News accused the U.S. Army of delivering a $70 million deal for a defense system against rocket propelled grenades to Raytheon, despite other contractors proposing schemes that might’ve been more effective.