clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

The debut of the Explain it To Me Like I’m 5 podcast: The baseball

Dr. Meredith Wills joins Keelin Billue in a new series to share the science behind juiced balls, dead balls, and how she discovered that MLB was using two different balls in 2021.

If you buy something from an SB Nation link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics statement.

Baseball Elements
As it turns out, baseballs and snowflakes have something in common: unique structures.
2021 Diamond Images via Getty Images

[Yes, we are in the middle of a contentious lockout, but boy howdy that doesn’t stop the South Side Sox podcasting network. Today we unveil our 11th podcast program, “Explain it to Me Like I’m 5,” a Q&A format that takes sometimes-complicated issues and breaks them down in a language that everybody here can easily understand. Our host for the series is the delightful and curious Keelin Billue, who you might remember from such SSS podcasts as Killer B’s and Estrogen Power Hour.—Brett]


Dr. Meredith Wills was born on a Major League Baseball Opening Day, but it was not a run-of-the-mill Opening Day: It was the day Henry Aaron tied Babe Ruth’s home run record. Her father, who grew up watching Aaron play, went out and bought his newborn daughter a baseball bat.

“He was absolutely convinced that I was going to be something in the game,” says Dr. Wills.

The elder Wills’ vision was prescient. Dr. Wills has been busy over the past several years researching and solving the mysteries within a seemingly simple but beloved object: the baseball. The impact of Dr. Wills’ research is changing the game of baseball and what we know about MLB operations.

Dr. Wills shows off the yarn inside a deconstructed baseball.
Dr. Wills shows off the yarn in a deconstructed regulation baseball.
Keelin Billue

I’m hosting this new South Side Sox podcast called “Explain It Like I’m 5 (ELI5),” which is focused on simplifying complicated topics in baseball with the experts who understand the issues best.

Listen to or watch Episode 1: “The baseball: a semi-chaotic system” to learn about Dr. Wills and the following topics:

  • What do baseball, astrophysics, and knitting have in common?
  • What is the history behind dead and juiced balls?
  • Does MLB purposefully juice and/or deaden balls?
  • How did Dr. Wills find out the MLB used two different balls in 2021?
  • Why did MLB use two different balls in 2021?
  • What is the fallout from using juiced balls?

Learn more about Dr. Wills and the articles she mentioned in this episode:


Listen below, on our built-in Megaphone player:

or follow along with every episode at Apple Podcasts or Spotify, or wherever you consume your podcasts. Or, you can watch the podcast on the South Side Hit Pen YouTube channel.

Follow Dr. Wills on Twitter @Bbl_Astrophyscs. Follow Keelin Billue on Twitter @Keelin_12ft