Every now and again, a truly great athlete shatters all previous assumptions about what’s possible to achieve in a sport. When this happens, opposing teams scramble to find ways to stop them or slow them down. In basketball, teams tried to to stop Shaquille O’Neil by immediately fouling him (the “hack-a-shaq” strategy); in soccer, opposing teams continuously foul the great Argentinean player, Leo Messi, before he can dribble through the defense. But in baseball, the solution for stopping the greatest hitter of all time was to actually redesign the game itself. And it started in the 1940s with Ted Williams. The solution was “The Shift.”
99% Invisible was a collaboration this week with FiveThirtyEight — the Data Journalism site owned by ESPN.