Sunday, November 20, 2016

Pitchers and catchers report

84 days and 23 hours remaining until Pitchers and Catchers Report #TZeroApp

Monday, September 26, 2016

RIP José Fernández | Our Game

He was electric and played with game with the joy of a young kid, the way you're supposed too. And he was taken away far too early. RIP Jose Fernandez.
Rest in Peace, José Fernández | Our Game

Rest in Peace, José Fernández

To An Athlete Dying Young, by A.E. Housman

THE time you won your town the race
We chaired you through the market-place;
Man and boy stood cheering by,
And home we brought you shoulder-high.

To-day, the road all runners come,
Shoulder-high we bring you home,
And set you at your threshold down,
Townsman of a stiller town.

Smart lad, to slip betimes away
From fields where glory does not stay,
And early though the laurel grows
It withers quicker than the rose.

Eyes the shady night has shut
Cannot see the record cut,
And silence sounds no worse than cheers
After earth has stopped the ears:

Now you will not swell the rout
Of lads that wore their honours out,
Runners whom renown outran
And the name died before the man.

So set, before its echoes fade,
The fleet foot on the sill of shade,
And hold to the low lintel up
The still-defended challenge-cup.

And round that early-laurelled head
Will flock to gaze the strengthless dead,
And find unwithered on its curls
The garland briefer than a girl's.

Sent from my iPhone

Wednesday, May 04, 2016

Evolution of Mets phenom Michael Conforto's 'perfect swing' - NY DailyNews

Evolution of Mets phenom Michael Conforto's 'perfect swing' - NY Daily News

I cringe when I read this label being put on a guy. It's like we're looking to anoint the hitting version of Mark "Perfect Mechanics" Prior. Whatever happened to Mike Prior anyway? And if Conforto has such "perfect" mechanics, shouldn't they allow him to hit LHP's a little better? 

Just asking and I like Conforto and he has a "great" swing. Great, not perfect.

Evolution of Mets phenom Michael Conforto's 'perfect swing'

Michael Conforto swung and the scout sitting in the stands at MCU Park, home of the Brooklyn Cyclones, marveled as the ball soared over the right-field fence, despite the stiff wind blowing in off the ocean.
"It was a perfect swing," the scout recalls. "It was like you were watching a movie. I thought to myself, 'That's the nicest swing I've ever seen at a ballpark.'
"You know how many swings I see every year?"
The scout, a longtime veteran who works for an organization other than the Mets, is going back to 2014 for the anecdote, not long after the Mets had drafted Conforto 10th overall and sent him to their short-season Class A team on Coney Island. Conforto was just 21 years old at the time.
But his gorgeous swing, the one that now makes pitchers quake on the mound and Keith Hernandez swoon in the Mets' broadcast booth, began evolving long before.
Conforto, the Mets' No. 3 hitter, has been hearing about the beauty of his cut since he played in the Redmond North Little League in the Seattle suburbs. It's been tweaked, upgraded and streamlined since then by "a lot of great coaches," Conforto says.
And, of course, by Conforto's own natural ability and his feel for keeping what works for him and discarding the rest. Mix in the knowledge of situational hitting and patient approach he learned under Pat Casey at Oregon State and you have a hitter who started Monday seventh in the National League in both hitting (.342) and slugging percentage (.633).
The evolution hasn't stopped, either – Mets' hitting coach Kevin Long helped him with a key stride change last year while Conforto was struggling that's helped Conforto surge into the No. 3 slot in the Met lineup.
"If you were going to build a hitter and had to put a body and a mind together, Michael is as close as you can get to intertwining them into an ideal," Casey says.

Michael Conforto has had scouts gushing over his swing since he was drafted by the Mets.
Matt Slocum/AP

Michael Conforto has had scouts gushing over his swing since he was drafted by the Mets.

Long is watching a video clip of a Conforto swing from earlier this season, a home run to center off Cleveland's Cody Anderson on April 15.
Conforto's head barely moves as he tracks the pitch and wallops it. At one point, watching the clip, Long chuckles and mutters, "Ohhhh," marveling at what he's seeing.
Conforto's stride doesn't go forward because he picks his front foot – his right foot – up and puts it down in nearly the same place. He generates remarkable torque with his legs and hips – both Long and Casey rave about the strength of Conforto's lower body.
"You see a guy who stays very balanced and centered throughout his swing," Long says. "His head doesn't move. This is what makes him special. Everyone sees the pretty swing, but, mechanically, this is as sound as it gets.
"It's Yoenis Cespedes from the left side of the plate. Yoenis has no movement, either."
It's not easy to keep your head from moving when a man standing 60 feet, six inches away can throw 95 miles per hour or more, Long says. Asked to name a couple, Long says Minnesota's Joe Mauer, the owner of three batting titles, and the electric Cespedes.

"If your head moves toward the pitcher, it speeds everything up," Conforto says. "If it moves to the side, it will skew your vision."
Conforto stays so still it enhances his strike-zone discipline. "There's no jumping," Long says. "So if you want to throw him an off-speed pitch, OK, so be it. Take your chances.
"You want to throw him a fastball? OK, go ahead, try to do it."
Most hitters, Long explains, "gain distance" with their strides during their swings. But going forward just "makes hitting harder," the coach says.
With such supreme body control, Conforto is now in a perfect position to, as Long puts it in hitting jargon, have "his lower half synch up with his hands. His back foot starts to turn, his back knee starts to drive down and through and his hips get through and then the barrel (of the bat) flies through (the hitting zone).
"And then the extension he gets is incredible. He gets that as well as anybody you'll ever see."

No more than 7 images from any single MLB game, workout, activity or event may be used (including online and on apps) while that game, activity or event is in progress.
David Maxwell/Getty Images

Conforto moves up to the No. 3 spot in the Mets lineup after making adjustments with hitting coach Kevin Long.

Mere weeks into Conforto's tenure in the majors last year, though, he needed some work. His average sagged as opponents figured out the touted kid's weakness: Pitch him inside.
"He was just getting exposed inside," Long recalls. On video, it became apparent to the Mets that Conforto had moved off the plate – Conforto estimates it was about three and a half inches, perhaps to try to overcome his struggles with inside offerings. But the change in position changed his stride, too, and all of a sudden he was striding toward the plate.
"When you're doing that, it makes it tough for you to get to the inside pitch – there's no path for your hands," Conforto says. Long suggested that Conforto move his back foot closer to the plate. That would force his stride toward the pitcher, even if it ended up as merely an up-and-down movement.
"Once we made that adjustment, it really freed up a little space for me to use my hips and get my hands in and still not give up anything out over the plate. I was hitting well going the other way, but once pitchers found out they could come in on me, that was where the problem was. That's the whole thing of coming up into the big leagues – they find your weakness quickly."
Conforto's never minded the work, say those who know him. He's a swing junkie who likes to watch video of other hitters, something he did often over the winter at the batting cages run by Ray and Cody Atkinson in Kirkland, Wash., where he hits during the off-season.
Some other swings he admires? "I really like Carlos Gonzalez's swing," Conforto says. "I loved Ken Griffey Jr. growing up. I always wanted to swing like him. I think Bryce Harper's swing is incredible, just how it's so powerful but at the same time he can square balls up so consistently. I think that's incredible. The way his lower half works is amazing as well. Michael Brantley – I like how simple his is.
"When you look at that stuff, you kind of realize that there's no one way to do it. It's what feels right for you, not a cookie-cutter thing. Look at Hunter Pence."

Conforto hits his fourth home run in a 3-for-4 day on Saturday.
Frank Franklin II/AP

Conforto hits his fourth home run in a 3-for-4 day on Saturday.

Every day, Conforto does a routine that includes swinging one-armed with a short bat to "keep him on top of the baseball," Long says. Then regular flip drills and then he takes swings with simulated counts and situations. Then he watches video of the opposing starter and relievers.
"He prepares without overloading himself," Long says.
He's got further work to do, too, which he knows. Entering Monday, Conforto was hitting just .188 against lefties this year, with no extra-base hits.
In fact, Conforto has never had a regular-season extra-base hit against a left-hander, though he did homer off Royals' lefty Danny Duffy in the World Series.
But the Mets are giving him more chances against lefties lately and he's got plenty of raw material to work with – that marvelous mix of torque and mechanical precision that is his swing.
As the scout puts it, "A beautiful swing like that doesn't come along very often."
michael conforto ,
kevin long ,
new york mets ,

Sent from my iPhone

Saturday, April 30, 2016

“Progressives” and Religious Liberty Written By Laurie Higgins

And here's what the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. said in "Letter from Birmingham Jail":
You express a great deal of anxiety over our willingness to break laws. This is certainly a legitimate concern. Since we so diligently urge people to obey the Supreme Court's decision of 1954 outlawing segregation in the public schools, at first glance it may seem rather paradoxical for us consciously to break laws. One may well ask: "How can you advocate breaking some laws and obeying others?" The answer lies in the fact that there are two types of laws: just and unjust. I would be the first to advocate obeying just laws. One has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws. I would agree with St. Augustine that "an unjust law is no law at all."
Now, what is the difference between the two? How does one determine whether a law is just or unjust? A just law is a man made code that squares with the moral law or the law of God. An unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law. To put it in the terms of St. Thomas Aquinas: An unjust law is a human law that is not rooted in eternal law and natural law.
More and more I feel that the people of ill will have used time much more effectively than have the people of good will. We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the hateful words and actions of the bad people but for the appalling silence of the good people.Human progress never rolls in on wheels of inevitability; it comes through the tireless efforts of men willing to be co workers with God
I have been disappointed with the church. I do not say this as one of those negative critics who can always find something wrong with the church. I say this as a minister of the gospel, who loves the church; who was nurtured in its bosom; who has been sustained by its spiritual blessings and who will remain true to it as long as the cord of life shall lengthen.
I have heard many ministers say: "Those are social issues, with which the gospel has no real concern." And I have watched many churches commit themselves to a completely other worldly religion which makes a strange, un-Biblical distinction between body and soul, between the sacred and the secular.
I have traveled the length and breadth of Alabama, Mississippi and all the other southern states. On sweltering summer days and crisp autumn mornings I have looked at the South's beautiful churches with their lofty spires pointing heavenward. I have beheld the impressive outlines of her massive religious education buildings. Over and over I have found myself asking: "What kind of people worship here? Who is their God?" 
In deep disappointment I have wept over the laxity of the church. But be assured that my tears have been tears of love. There can be no deep disappointment where there is not deep love. Yes, I love the church. How could I do otherwise? I am in the rather unique position of being the son, the grandson and the great grandson of preachers. Yes, I see the church as the body of Christ. But, oh! How we have blemished and scarred that body through social neglect and through fear of being nonconformists.

There was a time when the church was very powerful–in the time when the early Christians rejoiced at being deemed worthy to suffer for what they believed. In those days the church was not merely a thermometer that recorded the ideas and principles of popular opinion; it was a thermostat that transformed the mores of society. Whenever the early Christians entered a town, the people in power became disturbed and immediately sought to convict the Christians for being "disturbers of the peace" and "outside agitators."' But the Christians pressed on, in the conviction that they were "a colony of heaven," called to obey God rather than man. Small in number, they were big in commitment. They were too God-intoxicated to be "astronomically intimidated." By their effort and example they brought an end to such ancient evils as infanticide and gladiatorial contests. Things are different now. So often the contemporary church is a weak, ineffectual voice with an uncertain sound. So often it is an archdefender of the status quo. Far from being disturbed by the presence of the church, the power structure of the average community is consoled by the church's silent–and often even vocal–sanction of things as they are.

But the judgment of God is upon the church as never before. If today's church does not recapture the sacrificial spirit of the early church, it will lose its authenticity, forfeit the loyalty of millions, and be dismissed as an irrelevant social club with no meaning for the twentieth century. 
Charles Slavik
~;::::::;( )">  ¯\_( )_/¯   

Bloomberg: Humans Are Slamming Into Driverless Cars and Exposing a Key Flaw: Bloomberg News

From Bloomberg, Dec 17, 2015, 7:01:03 PM

The Law of Unintended Consequences rears its ugly head once again. Who couldn't see this coming? We're going to take "distracted driving", which I think most would believe is a bad thing, mix in a little "What works in Theory doesn't always work in Practice" and expect a good result? Amazing stuff. Hey, thanks science!! and thanks once again Yogi.

Google Self-Driving Car Project.
The self-driving car, that cutting-edge creation that's supposed to lead to a world without accidents, is achieving the exact opposite right now: The vehicles have racked up a crash rate double that of those with human drivers.
 To read the entire article, go to
Sent from the Bloomberg iPhone application. Download the free application at

Sent from my iPhone


The law of unintended consequences, often cited but rarely defined, is that actions of people—and especially of government—always have effects that are unanticipated or unintended. Economists and other social scientists have heeded its power for centuries; for just as long, politicians and popular opinion have largely ignored it.

Sent from my iPhone

Begin forwarded message:

Your kid and my kid are not playing in the pros | Guest Voices | NUVO News | Indianapolis, IN

Your kid and my kid are not playing in the pros | Guest Voices | NUVO News | Indianapolis, INlouisprofeta.jpeg

Presented without editing, one of the all-time best articles I've ever read. This was presented to me one evening by Mrs. The Slav after she finished convulsing in laughter. If you see yourself in any of the following examples, check yourself before you wreck yourself.

Your kid and my kid are not playing in the pros

I don't care if your eight year old can throw a baseball through six inches of plywood. He is not going to the pros. I don't care if your twelve-year-old scored seven touchdowns last week in Pop Warner. He is not going to the pros. I don't care if your sixteen-year-old made first team all-state in basketball. He is not playing in the pros. I don't care if your freshman in college is a varsity scratch golfer, averaging two under par. He isn't playing in the pros. Now tell me again how good he is. I'll lay you two to one odds right now — and I don't even know your kid, I have never even see them play — but I'll put up my pension that your kid is not playing in the pros. It is simply an odds thing. There are far too many variables working against your child. Injury, burnout, others who are better — these things are just a fraction of the barriers preventing your child from becoming "the one."

So how do we balance being the supportive parent who spends three hours a day driving all over hell's half acre to allow our child to pursue his or her dream without becoming the supportive parent that drives all over hell's half acre to allow our child to pursue OUR dream? When does this pursuit of athletic stardom become something just shy of a gambling habit? From my experience in the ER I've developed some insight in how to identify the latter.

1. When I inform you as a parent that your child has just ruptured their ACL ligament or Achilles tendon, if the next question out of your mouth is, "How long until he or she will be able to play?" you have a serious problem.

2. If you child is knocked unconscious during a football game and can't remember your name let alone my name but you feel it is a "vital" piece of medical information to let me know that he is the starting linebacker and that the team will probably lose now because he was taken out of the game, you need to see a counselor.

3. If I tell you that mononucleosis has caused the spleen to swell and that participation in a contact sport could cause a life threatening rupture and bleeding during the course of the illness and you then ask me, "If we just get some extra padding around the spleen, would it be OK to play?" someone needs to hit you upside the head with a two by four.

4. If your child comes in with a blood alcohol level of .250 after wrecking your Lexus and you ask if I can hurry up and get them out of the ER before the police arrive so as not to run the risk of her getting kicked off the swim team, YOU need to be put in jail.

I bet you think I'm kidding about the above patient and parent interactions. I wish I were, but I'm not. These are a fraction of the things I have heard when it comes to children and sports. Every ER doctor in America sees this. How did we get here? How did we go from spending our family times in parks and picnics, at movies and relatives houses to travel baseball and cheerleading competitions? When did we go from being supportive to being subtly abusive?

Why are we spending our entire weekends schlepping from county to county, town to town, state to state to play in some bullshit regional, junior, mid-west, southeast, invitational, elite, prep, all- state, conference, blah, blah, blah tourney? We decorate our cars with washable paint, streamers, numbers and names. We roll in little carpool caravans trekking down the interstate honking and waiving at each other like Rev. Jim Jones followers in a Kool-Aid line. Greyhounds, Hawks, Panthers, Eagles, Bobcats, Screaming Devils, Scorching Gonads or whatever other mascot adorns their jerseys.

Somewhere along the line we got distracted, and the practice field became the dinner table of the new millennium. Instead of huddling around a platter of baked chicken, mashed potatoes and fruit salad, we spend our evenings handing off our children like 4 x 200 batons. From baseball practice to cheerleading, from swimming lessons to personal training, we have become the "hour-long" generation of five to six, six to seven, and seven to eight, selling the souls of our family for lacrosse try-outs. But why do we do this?

It's because, just like everyone else, we're afraid. We are afraid that Emma will make the cheerleading squad instead of Suzy and that Mitch will start at first base instead of my Dillon. But it doesn't stop there. You see, if Mitch starts instead of Dillon then Dillon will feel like a failure, and if Dillon feels like a failure then he will sulk and cower in his room, and he will lose his friends because all his friends are on the baseball team, too, and if he loses his friends then he will start dressing in Goth duds, pierce his testicles, start using drugs and begin listening to headbanging music with his door locked. Then, of course, it's just a matter of time until he's surfing the net for neo-Nazi memorabilia, visiting gun shows and then opening fire in the school cafeteria. That is why so many fathers who bring their injured sons to the ER are so afraid that they won't be able to practice this week, or that he may miss the game this weekend. Miss a game, you become a mass murderer — it's that simple.

Suzy is a whole other story, though. You see, if she doesn't make the cheerleading squad she will lose a whole bunch of friends and not be as popular as she should (and she's REAL popular). If she loses some friends, she will be devastated — all the cool kids will talk about her behind her back, so then she'll sit in her room all day, eating Ding Dongs and cutting at her wrists. Then, of course, it is only a matter of time until she is chatting on the Internet with fifty-year-old men and meeting up with them at truck stops. And that is why every mother is so frightened when her daughters have mononucleosis or influenza. Miss cheerleading practice for a week, and your daughter is headed for a career in porn. It's that simple.

We have become a frightened society that can literally jump from point A to point Z and ignore everything in between. We spend so much time worrying about who might get ahead — and if we're falling behind — that we have simply lost our common sense. Myself included.

There was a time when sick or injured children were simply sick or injured children. They needed bed rest, fluid, antibiotics and a limitation on activity. They just needed to get better. They didn't NEED to get better.

I know, I know. Your family is different. You do all these things because your kid loves to compete, he loves the travel basketball, she loves the swim team, it's her life, it's what defines him. Part of that is certainly true but a big part of that isn't. Tens of thousands of families thrive in this setting, but I'm telling you, from what I've seen as a clinician, tens of thousands don't. It is a hidden scourge in society today, taxing and stressing husbands, wives, parents and children. We're denying children the opportunity to explore literally thousands of facets of interests because of the fear of the need to "specialize" in something early, and that by not doing this your child will somehow be just an average kid. How do we learn to rejoice in the average and celebrate as a whole society the exceptional? I'm not sure, but I know that this whole preoccupation is unhealthy, it is dysfunctional and is as bad as alcoholism, tobacco abuse, or any other types of dependency.

I would love to have a son that is a pro athlete. I'd get season tickets; all the other fathers would point at me and I might get a chance to meet Sandy Koufax. It isn't going to happen, though. But you know what I am certain will happen? I'll raise self-reliant kids, who will hang out with me when I'm older, remember my birthday, care for their mother, take me to lunch and the movies, buy me club level seats at Yankee Stadium on occasion, call me at least four times a week and let me in on all the good things in their life, and turn to me for some comfort and advice for all the bad things. I am convinced that those things just will not happen as much for parents of the "hour-long" generation. You can't create a sense of family only at spring and Christmas break. It just won't happen. Sure, the kids will probably grow up to be adequate adults. They'll reflect on how supportive you were by driving them to all their games and practices and workouts. They'll call the ER from a couple states away to see how mom's doing but in time you'll see that something will be missing, something that was sacrificed for a piano tutor, a pitching coach, a travel soccer tournament. It may take years, but in time, you'll see.

Dr.Louis M. Profeta is an Emergency Physician practicing in Indianapolis, Indiana. He is the author of the critically acclaimed book, The Patient in Room Nine Says He's God.
Feedback at is welcomed.

Sent from my iPhone

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Sabermetrics: Baseball Analytics and the Science of Winning [Infographic] - Blog

Sabermetrics: Baseball Analytics and the Science of Winning [Infographic] - Blog

Sabermetrics: Baseball Analytics and the Science of Winning [Infographic]

Though the term "sabermetrics" has only been around since the early 1980s, the practice of using statistics to gain a winning edge in baseball goes back almost two centuries. As the tools of sabermetrics continue to advance, teams like the New York Yankees and Mets are becoming more adept at using analytical tools to dissect the science of winning.

By the Numbers: What is Sabermetrics?

Sabermetrics is a science of sport. It is the empirical analysis of baseball through statistics, used to predict the performance of players, giving teams a winning edge.
With the help of sabermetrics, teams can:
  • Forecast results by making predictions based on previous data
  • Analyze on-field performance by recording and evaluating important aspects of play
  • Assist in decision-making by offering objective insights into players' performance, matchups, and scouting prospects
Who's a better pitcher? Where should our outfielders play? Which player is a better value for our team? Who was the greatest second baseman of all time? Thanks to sabermetrics, all of these questions can now have objective answers.

Beyond the Box Score: A Brief History of Sabermetrics

Just as the origins of baseball are difficult to pin down, so too is the start of sabermetrics. The term itself was coined in 1980 by renowned baseball analyst Bill James. Named in honor of the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR) of which James is a member, he called sabermetrics "the search for objective knowledge about baseball." However, that's not where the story begins. From simple scorekeeping to the more complex statistics that define the game today, statistics have long been important in baseball.
Let's take a closer look at key milestones in the making of sabermetrics.
History of Baseball Analytics
Embed This Graphic On Your Website:

Sabermetrics in Action

Now that we know what sabermetrics is and how it came to be, we can demonstrate baseball analytics in action with a side-by-side comparison of two players.
Sabermetrics in Action

Tools of the Trade: Software that Plays Hardball

Sabermetrics is made possible in part because every baseball game generates a ton of recorded data. But how is it processed? "Sabermetricians," as experts of sabermetrics are sometimes known, use a variety of tools to record games and glean insight from this data. These tools can be as simple as formulas used to derive statistics and as complex as high-definition cameras coupled with recognition software to analyze plays.
Each sabermetric tool has its uses and drawbacks, but some are more commonly used than others. Here are a few of the tools you'll find in the modern sabermetrician's toolbox:
Tools of Sabermetrics

Who's Keeping Score? Careers in Sabermetrics

The rise of sabermetrics has revolutionized not only how managers and coaches make decisions on the field, but also in how teams hire talent for front office positions. Historically, jobs such as general managers and assistants were reserved for former players. Thanks to sabermetrics, these front office positions have now opened up to those able to analyze sabermetrics data and help implement those insights in operations and scouting departments. Unsurprisingly, the industry is piquing the interest of many. In 2013, undergraduate students at Syracuse University's Falk College of Sport and Human Dynamics formed the Baseball Statistics & Sabermetrics Club. And when EdX first launched a free sabermetrics 101 course, more than 13,000 people signed up in 2014. The interest in the business analysis of baseball continues to evolve.
For those interested in a career in sabermetrics or who want to become experts in discovering meaningful patterns in data, it is important to do a bit of research on business analytics and data science occupations to determine if sabermetrics is a suitable career path. Ideal candidates for sabermetrics jobs not only need an understanding of sabermetrics (and an interest in baseball), but also need formal training in statistics possessed by analytics professionals, data scientists, and MBA graduates.

Sent from my iPhone

Physical Activity Is the No. 1 Way to Keep Your Brain Young | Psychology Today

University of Tsukuba, used with permission

from Psychology Today:

Stroop-interference-related cortical activation patterns are shown.
Source: University of Tsukuba, used with permission
Every day, my inbox seems to be flooded with new findings that physical exercise improves brain health and cognitive function. Yesterday, my mother, along with about a dozen other people, forwarded me a New York Times article from the Sunday Review, "Can You Get Smarter?(link is external)" by op-ed writer, Richard A. Friedman. My mom summed up the article in her email saying, "Did you see this? Exercise!! :-)"
I've been writing about the link between physical fitness and mental fitness for over a decade. Since the beginning, I've also stated my belief that maintaining close-knit human bonds is second only to exercise in terms of our lifelong physical and psychological well-being, which is something Friedman also speaks about in his article. 
Many of the findings that I published 10 years ago in The Athlete's Way: Sweat and the Biology of Bliss(link is external) were mentioned by Friedman in his recent NYT article such as, the idea that mindset is never fixed because of neuroplasticity and that the neurogenesis of new neurons caused by a protein called brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) is triggered through aerobic exercise. As Friedman explains,
"Intriguingly, exercise in humans and animals increases the level of a protein called brain-derived neurotrophic factor(link is external), or BDNF, in the blood and brain. BDNF promotes the growth and formation of new neurons, and it may be responsible, in part, for a remarkable effect of exercise on the brain: an increase in size of the hippocampus that is linked with improved memory.
Conversely, adverse experiences like major depression can lower BDNF levels and are associated with hippocampal shrinkage, a phenomenon that helps explain some of the cognitive impairments that are a hallmark of depression. Aside from making people feel better, antidepressants can block the depression-induced drop in BDNF, so these drugs are, in a sense, neuroprotective."

White Matter and Gray Matter Work Together to Optimize Brain Function

Something that I did not write about a decade ago—but which has come to light in recent years—is that exercise seems to optimize both gray matter brain volumes and white matter integrity.
MS blogspot/Labeled for reuse.
Source: MS blogspot/Labeled for reuse.
Gray matter(link is external) houses the neurons in specific brain regions. White matter(link is external)facilitates the communication between various brain regions. Gray and white matter work together to optimize brain function. The fact that physical activity benefits both gray and white matter is the primary reason that exercise is the No. 1 way to keep your brain young.
Recently, researchers at the Beckman Institute(link is external) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, led by Art Kramer(link is external) identified that older adults who regularly engage in moderate to vigorous physical activity tend to have better brain function and greater white matter integrity than their less-fit peers. They also have increased cognitive flexibility.
Cognitive flexibility is a person's ability to switch between modes of thought and to simultaneously think about multiple concepts. I wrote about these findings in an August 2015 Psychology Today blog post, "Why Does Physical Activity Improve Cognitive Flexibility?"
Previously, other studies by Kramer and his colleagues have found white matter improvement linked to physical activity in various age groups. In 2014, Chaddock-Heyman et al found that higher levels of aerobic fitness in children is associated with improved white matter integrity. The team identified that exercise improves the microstructures of white matter in the brain. White matter integrity is linked to faster neural conduction between brain regions and superior cognitive performance.
In two separate 2014 studies—released within the same month—the Beckman researchers reported that physical activity improved the white matter integrity of physically fit children aged 9 to 10 and also in "low-fit" participants aged 60 to 78. I wrote about these findings in a Psychology Today blog post, "Why Is Physical Activity So Good for Your Brain?"

Active Body, Younger Brain

A new study by researchers in Japan led by Dr. Hideaki Soya(link is external), a professor of exercise biochemistry, from the University of Tsukuba and his colleagues shows, for the first time, a direct relationship between brain activity, brain function, and physical fitness in a group of older men.
The October 2015 study, "The Association Between Aerobic Fitness and Cognitive Function in Older Men Mediated by Frontal Lateralization(link is external)," was published in the journalNeuroImage. The researchers found that fitter men performed better mentally than their less-fit peers. The researchers believe the improved cognitive function was the result of using parts of their brains in the same way as people of a younger age.
According to Soya et al, when someone is young, he or she primarily uses the left side of the prefrontal cortex for mental tasks involving short-term memory, understanding the meaning of words and the ability to recognize previously encountered events, objects, or people. However, as we get older, people tend to also use parts of their prefrontal cortex on the right side of the cerebrum(link is external) (Latin for "brain") during these tasks. Both hemispheres of the prefrontal cortex are believed to play a role in our executive function, memory,intelligence, language, and vision.
The researchers said that for tasks involving the temporary storage and manipulation of memory, long-term memories, and inhibitory control—younger adults typically favor the right side of the prefrontal cortex, while older adults engage both hemispheres.
In a press release the researchers said, "This phenomenon has been coined HAROLD (hemispheric asymmetry reduction in older adults) and reflects the reorganization of the brain as compensation for reduced brain capacity and efficiency due to age-related structural and physiological decline."
Wikimedia/Creative Commons
Example of the Stroop test. 
Source: Wikimedia/Creative Commons
For this study, men aged 64-75 years underwent an exercise test to measure their aerobic fitness. The men, whose physical fitness levels varied greatly, then performed a Stroop test to measure their selective attention, executive function, and reaction time. The Stroop test involves reading the word for a color, such as "blue, green, red," but asking the subject to name the color of the word rather than read the word itself.
When the color of the letters doesn't match the word, it takes the brain longer to react, as you can see by taking the Stroop test above. The length of someone's reaction time is used as a measurement of brain function. During this experiment, the brain activity in the prefrontal cortex was measured throughout the Stroop test using a unique neuroimaging technique called Functional Near Infrared Spectroscopy (fNIRS).
This brain imaging technique measures blood oxygen concentration in surface blood vessels using a set of wearable probes in a cap that is placed on the head. Active brain cells require fresh oxygenated blood which dislodges the deoxygenated blood from that region. fNIRS technically measures the changes in color between oxygenated blood (red) and deoxygenated blood (blue). This provides a measurement of brain activity.
The results showed that during the Stroop test older adults typically used both sides of the prefrontal cortex actively, with no difference between right and left, verifying the HAROLD phenomenon amongst this group of men. However, when the association between aerobic fitness and Stroop reaction time was analyzed, the men who were aerobically fit had shorter reaction times.
The researchers were able to identify that higher aerobic fitness is associated with higher left prefrontal cortex activity. Based on these findings, the researchers conclude that more aerobically fit older men can perform better mentally than less-fit older men because they're able to use specific brain regions more fluidly when necessary.
In fact, the fitter older men were using parts of their brains in the same way as they would have when they were younger, the researchers found. These results suggest that higher aerobic fitness is associated with cognitive function via lateralized frontal activation in older adults.
In a press release, Professor Soya concluded, "One possible explanation suggested by the research is that the volume and integrity of the white matter in the part of brain that links the two sides declines with age. There is some evidence to support the theory that fitter adults are able to better maintain this white matter than less fit adults, but further study is needed to confirm this theory."

Conclusion: Physical Activity, Brain Connectivity, and Superfluidity

Based on decades of research, I've developed an original hypothesis that physical activity optimizes the structure, function, and connectivity of both hemispheres of the cerebrum and both hemispheres of the cerebellum(link is external) (Latin for "little brain").
To date, most research has focused primarily on the lateralization and connectivity between the left and right hemispheres of the cerebrum across the corpus callosum. But in recent months, there has been a groundswell of research that examines the role of the cerebellum in cognitive function and the creative process. 
Below is a rudimentary sketch that I drew a few years ago to illustrate my concept of superfluidity and brain connectivity between all four hemispheres:
Illustration and photo by Christopher Bergland
Optimizing the structure, function, and connectivity of all four brain hemispheres is the key to superfluidity.
Source: Illustration and photo by Christopher Bergland
I have a hunch that creating a state of superfluidity, which is the highest tier of flow, occurs when there is "zero friction, entropy, or viscosity" between all four brain hemispheres. I believe that the optimization of gray and white matter in the cerebrum and the cerebellum is the key to cognitive flexibility, creativity, and peak performance. This is still an educated guess. That said, I am constantly searching for new clues to prove my hypothesis. Stay tuned!
If you'd like to  read more on this topic, check out my Psychology Today blog posts,
© 2015 Christopher Bergland. All rights reserved.

Sent from my iPhone

Giants Top Minor League Prospects

  • 1. Tyler Beede 6-4, 215 RHP from Vanderbilt projects as top of the rotation starter when he works out his command/control issues. When he misses, he misses by a bunch.
  • 2. Christian Arroyo 6-1, 180 SS very efficient with the bat, good hitting approach, test will be how he handles advanced pitching
  • 3. Adalberto Mejia 6-3,195 LHP Throws strikes and mixes pitches well. Good secondary stuff, projects as middle rotation guy. Keeps ball down and gets outs.
  • 4. Aramis Garcia 6-2, 220 C from Florida INTL projects as a good bat behind the dish with enough defensive skill to play there long-term
  • 5. Kyle Crick 6-4,220 RHP Power pitcher in the Matt Cain mold. High K-rate comes with High BB-rate. Low 90's FB with sink. Can be a top of the rotation starter once command/control issues ironed out. Mechanics are sound.
  • 6. Clayton Blackburn 6-3, 220 RHP Good low 90's FB with sink, excellent command of stuff, good secondary pitches. His 8.64 K/BB ratio is off the charts efficient.
  • 7. Lucius Fox 6-1, 175 SS Smooth MIF with all the tools, price tag dictates he will get every opportunity to succeed.
  • 8. Phil Bickford 6-5, 205 RHP Sturdy power arm, will move up the charts fast, Top of the rotation potential
  • 9. Sam Coonrod 6-3, 215 RHP Hard-thrower got off to a good start in rookie ball, impressed with high K/BB ratio. Needs to keep ball in the yard.
  • _10. Chris Shaw 6-3. 230 1B Lefty power bat, limited defensively to 1B, Matt Adams comp?
  • _11. Steven Okert 6-3, 210 LHP Oklahoma product, another power lefty prospect.
  • _12. Mac Williamson 6-4, 240 OF Wake Forest grad with five-tool potential if he hits advanced pitching.
  • _13. Ty Blach 6-1, 210 LHP Glavine comps will give him a chance to rise fast.
  • _14. Michael Santos 6-4, 170 RHP Twenty year old needs to fill out a bit and perform at higher levels but stuff is there.
  • _15. Chris Stratton 6-3, 185 RHP Mississippi State Decent four-pitch mix, solid pitching frame. Can run FB to 94 MPH with movement. Throws SL/CB, with the slider the better of the two.
  • _16. Jalen Miller 5-10, 175 SS Another smooth HS SS with Jimmy Rollins comps, may be better prospect than Fox, without the price tag.
  • _17. Ryder Jones 6-2, 200 3B polished bat with some pop. Good athleticism for the corner IF
  • _18. Dylan Davis 6-0,215 OF Good size and speed package from Oregon State. Has a good arm so may challenge in RF down the road.
  • _19. Andrew Suarez 6-2, 185 LHP Miami grad, not over powering, but gets guys out.
  • _20. Mac Marshall 6-0,180 LHP Good stuff from small package more as bullpen piece than starter.
  • _21. Hunter Cole 6-1, 190 Another collegiate MIF who may have to move to the OF to get a chance.
  • _22. Austin Slater 6-2, 215 2B well-schooled from Stanford Univ. via The Bolles School in Jacksonville FL good size, speed combo with hit tool playing well through AA. Line drive, gap hitter with 15HR power potential
  • _23. Derek Law 6-2, 210 RHP power arm with some deceptiveness in his delivery, could be a dark horse to contribute in 2014
  • _24. Stephen Duggar 6-1, 170 CF Another toolsy, under-achieving OF in the Gary Brown mold, hoping for better results.
  • _25. Chase Johnson 6-3, 185 RHP from Cal State SLO, strong arm, projects as mnid to low rotation starter or middle relief bullpen arm

2016 MLB Draft - Top National HS Players

  • 1. Blake Rutherford 6-3, 190 OF Chaminade College Prep HS (CA)
  • 2. Riley Pint 6-4, 195 RHP St. Thomas Aquinas HS (HS)
  • 3. Austin Bergner 6-4, 195 RHP Windermere Prep (FL)
  • 4. Drew Mendoza 6-4,195 SS Lake Minneola HS (FL)
  • 5. Braxton Garrett 6-3, 190 LHP Florence HS (AL)
  • 6. Jason Groome 6-6, 180 LHP IMG Academy (FL)
  • 7. Jeff Belge 6-4, 235 LHP Henninger HS (NY)
  • 8. Mickey Moniak 6-2, 185 INF/OF La Costa Canyon HS (CA)
  • 9. Brad Debo 6-1, 210 C Orange HS (NC)
  • _10. Bo Bichette 6-0, 200 INF Lakewood HS (FL)

2016 Top MLB College Draft Prospects

  • 1. Alec Hansen 6-7, 235 RHP Oklahoma
  • 2. A.J. Puk 6-7, 225 LHP Florida
  • 3. Connor Jones 6-3, 200 RHP Virginia
  • 4. Nick Banks 6-0, 200 OF Texas A&M
  • 5. Logan Shore 6-2,215 RHP Florida
  • 6. Bobbie Dalbec 6-4, 220 3B Arizona
  • 7. Robert Tyler 6-4, 215 RHP Georgia
  • 8. Cal Quantrill 6-3, 185 Stanford
  • 9. Corey Ray 5-11, 185 OF Louisville
  • _10. Matt Krook 6-3, 205 LHP Oregon

2016 Top MLB HS Draft Prospects (NW Suburban Chicago Area)

  • Anthony Holubecki 6-4, 195 RHP Kaneland HS/IMG Academy(FL) Notre Dame commit easy 93 MPH FB. Another top of the draft talent.
  • Brady Huffman 6-2, 165 RHP Genoa-Kingston HS Illinois State commit. Lanky frame, cruises 85-88 with FB, CB has some depth, efficient delivery and arm action.
  • Brenden Heiss 6-1, 200 RHP Jacobs HS Arkansas commit, can reach 95 MPH on FB, workable CB and CH. Power arm, but struggles with control at times.
  • Copper Johnson 6-0, 200 C Carmel Catholic HS Strong receiver with quick feet and throws well 1.85-1.90 pop time. Clean RH stroke with gap to gap power. Ole Miss commit.
  • Joe Dittmar 6-2, 205 RHP/3B Richmond-Burton HS Wichita State commit. Good two-way prospect can hit and has soft hands in IF. cruises late 80's with FB can goose it up to 92. Power arm/power bat.
  • Nick Derr 5-11, 160 SS Geneva HS/IMG Academy (FL) Florida State commit, top of the draft talent, athletic three-sport standout, with sub 7.0 - 60 yd dash speed and arm strength to play QB

2016 Top MLB HS Draft Prospects in Jacksonville Area

  • Keenan Bell 6-2, 215 OF Episcopal HS L/L Very good athlete with outstanding hitting tools accoring to Perfect Game. 7.35 60 yd dash with 1.72 10 yd split.

2016 Top Tampa Bay Area High School Baseball Players

  • 1. Bo Bichette 6-0, 200 3B/2B Lakewood HS (STP) Son of former major leaguer Dante Bichette, unconventional swing generates plus bat speed and power to all fields. Athletic and shows good instincts defensively.
  • 2. Jordan Butler 6-1, 180 LHP Alonso HS (Tampa) Heavy FB and above avg. slider. Florida commit (JR)
  • 3. Conor Grady 6-2, 185 RHP Tampa Catholic HS (Tampa) Sinking 88-90 FB, workable CB and change (JR)