Billy Foster, PhD

Billy Foster

Clinical Assistant Professor of Economics at

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Quotations

Ask a physicist how long it would take a bowling ball to land if you dropped it from the roof of your house. He will happily assume that your house is located in a vacuum, and then proceed to calculate the right answer. Ask an engineer to predict the path of a billiard ball after it is struck at a certain angle. He will assume that there is no such thing as friction, and the accuracy of his prediction will give him no cause for regret. Ask an economist to predict the effects of a rise in the gasoline tax. He will assume that all people are rational and give you a pretty accurate response. — Steven E. Landsburg, The Armchair Economist (1993)

Posts Tagged ‘baseball’

Economists and accountants are often thrown into the same category. Accountants look at dollar values. What differentiates the economist is the addition of a concept called opportunity cost. One of my favorite examples of this involves a friend offering you $500 to help him move. If this is an uneventful day, you will probably help. If it is a holiday, you may decline. If it is Super Bowl Sunday and you have tickets to the game, you most likely will decline. The key is that you have to weigh all of your other options before making a decision.

Jack ClementsIn his book, The Baseball Economist, J.C. Bradbury offers one of the most intelligent arguments I have ever heard for the absence of left-handed catchers. Since 1902, a left-handed catcher has been used in only sixty-three games. Bradbury sifts through some of the common arguments of why they rarely exist (difficulty throwing to third base, coordination with pitchers, throwing errors, etc.). Through cost-benefit analysis, he dismisses most of these as insignificant.

Where he concludes is extremely insightful. Being a catcher requires intelligence, a strong arm, and good vision. If you are left-handed and have these qualities, your coach is most likely not going to position you as a catcher. He will use you where your talents are most valuable–as a pitcher. No real bias against left-handed catchers exists. The cost is just too great to waste a southpaw at catcher when he could be stepping on the mound.