June 24, 2011
Texas Rangers slugger Josh Hamilton(notes) believes that the color of his eyes — blue — are the reason for his unsightly day-night splits this season. He's hitting a dismal .122 under natural sunlight and a whopping .374 under the artificial lights of a big league ballpark.
Hamilton's day-night splits during his 2010 MVP season weren't as drastic as 2011's, but there was still a noticeable difference: .286 during the day and .384 at night. What gives?
"I ask guys all the time: Guys with blue eyes, brown eyes, whatever ... and guys with blue eyes have a tough time [during the day]," [Hamilton told radio host Bryan Dolgin ...].
"It's just hard for me to see [at the plate] in the daytime. [...]
"Try to go up [to the plate] squinting and see a white ball while the sun is shining right off the plate, you know, and beaming right up in your face."
But lest you dismiss Hamilton's explanation for his struggles with the sun as an old wives' tale, know this: Not only have fellow ballplayers with blue eyes backed his theory, but one optometrist in Texas says there's some truth to Hamilton's daytime difficulties.
Dr. Richard L. Ison, an optometrist since 1990 who is practicing in Murphy, Texas, said it's true that having blue eyes makes it tougher to see during the day than those with darker eyes.
"Because of the lack of pigment in lighter color eyes -- like blue or green eyes as opposed to brown -- you get a lot more unwanted light and that can create glare problems," Ison said.
Ison said the phenomenon is called intraocular light scatter, meaning the light scatters as it enters, producing a focal point that isn't as good.
Ison says that Hamilton can help fix the problem with a really nice pair of sunglasses — a pair presumably nicer than the ones George Bush sported in Arlington earlier this week. (Hamilton says he has a new pair that he intends to try out during two day games with the New York Mets this weekend.)
It'll be interesting to dig and see if any other blue-eyed players have numbers that agree, but one of the most-famous blue-eyed players — Cal Ripken Jr. — was able to overcome the handicap. Despite sporting some of the lightest blue eyes around, the Hall of Fame shortstop posted extremely similar numbers in each instance, but actually hit a little bit better during the day (.800 OPS) than at night (.783).
ESPN's Tim Kurkijan was the one who brought up the Ripken example, but also said that Buck Showalter once talked about never drafting two types of players: Those with full beards (because they apparently age too fast) and those with blue eyes. Whatever helps you whittle down the crop, I guess.
At any rate, any blue-eyed Stewies out there want to pin their failed big league dreams on your eyes losing the cruel genetic lottery? At least you'll have Dr. Ison and science on your side if anyone chooses to call you on it.
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