Baseballs in Humidors

So, Coors Field, the one the Rockies play in, out in CO. has always been known as a hitters park. The atmospheric conditions of the mountains are such that hitters have been known to just jack runs all day out of that bastid, leading to baseball games with table tennis scores.AA I suppose that the scientific explanation is that the higher altitude leads to less air resistance which in turn leads to more frequent dingers.

6a00ccff9823396ea500d4144340bc685e-500pi.jpg

As some of you might know, the Colorado Rockies have been on the illest streak known to god-fearing men (then again, I’m sure most of you have good enough sense to not watch the NL). Their pitchers were also on fire, combining for a team ERA of 4.32, which ain’t bad if you take into consideration the past. In fact, as one blog states, in 12 years of Coors Field ballgames, only 4 (count ’em) have ended with a final score of 1-0. All of those games have happened in the past 14 months.

Sports fans, all numbed up on the mind-reducing opium that is the cult of national sports, love a good scandal, and so it’s no surprise that people started calling this suspicious, given the (once) rumor that was circulating about the Rockies keeping their baseballs in a humidor. Surprisingly enough, baseball officials seem to think that this is good thing and an example that the rest of the teams should follow.

MLB took a first step toward achieving true baseball uniformness last week when, in calls to all 30 teams, officials confirmed that every team is now keeping the hundreds and hundreds of baseballs on hand in temperature-controlled facilities. Whether that’s a storage closet next to Bobby Cox‘s office in Atlanta or a nook off the visitors’ clubhouse in Houston doesn’t really matter. "They weren’t being left out on pallets in the parking lot," Joe Garagiola, Jr., another MLB vice president, assured everybody last week. Every ball that will make it into a game this year, according to Solomon, is now resting in a room (hallway, footlocker, whatever) at around 70 degrees Fahrenheit, what manufacturer Rawlings suggests. [via]

The reason why I’m posting all this is because on last night’s coverage of the Rox-Sox game one the announcers seemed to think that there would be a lot of discussion of the home run capabilities of Coors Field, as usual, as well as a lot of discussion about the supposed humidor that the rockies keep their baseballs in for years at a time before they are ever tossed around the horn on game nights.

"A lot of people talk about the humidor, but I’ve never actually seen it," Rockies shortstop Clint Barmes said. "Guys say it looks like a big refrigerator." [via]

humidor.jpg

Apparently playing at high altitude cause humidity problems for baseball players and baseballs alike. The Rockies have decided, therefore, for the past couple of years to keep their baseballs inside of a gargantuan humidor to preserve a 50% humidity, which would be similar to a ball anywhere else in the league (except in Boston where it’s gotta be around 90%).

Keeping the balls at the proper moisture — Rawlings recommends 50 percent relative humidity — is another matter, and MLB has not jumped into that fray yet. Many teams reported last week that they are keeping their stash of baseballs in a humidity-controlled environment, but Solomon said that not everybody is. [via]

Many people have treated the humidor issue at Coors field like a scandal, calling for investigations into the actions taken on the part of the Rockies with similar gusto as the Patriots videotaping shenanigans. Some people even started talking about the humidor effect and/or saying that the Rockies use the more water-logged baseballs for away teams and switch in dry ones for themselves (a point that has been contested by what seems to be a small cadre of league umpires).

t1_humidor.jpg

So does that mean that a dried-out baseball in, say, Cincinnati could be costing the Reds’ pitching staff more runs than a properly regulated moist one might? Is this, at last, the answer to winning in Great American Ball Park? Or at least the solution to not giving up as many home runs?

Well … no. Anybody who’s lived through a sticky Cincinnati summer knows that a lack of humidity, in all likelihood, isn’t the culprit. Clearly, the Reds need to be worrying more about how they’re throwing than what they’re throwing.

"We do know that the liveliness of the baseball can be sensitive to the amount of moisture in the ball," says Dr. James Sherwood, who has a PhD. in aerospace engineering from, as it turns out, the University of Cincinnati. "But … the range of moisture content that you’re going to see at the ballpark is not going to make something that was a homer yesterday not a homer today."

Sherwood is the director of the Baseball Research Center at the University of Massachusetts Lowell. He’s done all sorts of work on baseball bat performance and durability, and he’s done work on the effects of moisture and temperature on baseballs, too.

After dissecting and testing baseballs over many years, Sherwood has come to this rather common-sense answer: The heavier the moisture content, the heavier the ball, so the harder it is to hit it out of the park. Hotter baseballs — it doesn’t take a PhD. in aerospace engineering to figure this out — are livelier than cold ones. As Sherwood says, the differences are hardly noticeable. In many cases, they’re barely measurable, unless someone’s putting a baseball in a freezer or a toaster oven, as Sherwood did for his tests. [via]

humidor-702723.jpg

Still, the ever-lowering Rockies ERA keeps the guessers guessing what has the Rox so juiced.

  • There were 12 shutouts at Coors Field in 2006 between the Rockies and their opponents. The previous high was 6 shutouts in 1997
  • The Rockies posted their best team ERA in franchise history in 2006 with a 4.66 ERA.
  • Three of the six best seasons by Rockies pitchers (measured by ERA) came in 2006.

People took notice around the league and the first to speak out was Jeff Cirillo of the Milwaukee Brewers.
Cirillo, who played two seasons in Colorado pre-humidor, agreed the Rockies have better pitching now, "but at the same time, does that mean the rest of the league has better pitching, also?" Cirillo suggested shenanigans with the humidor could account for the dip in scoring and the decline in home runs at the ballpark that used to be known as "Coors Canaveral" for all the baseballs that were launched into the seats. "The other thing, too, is what if the Rockies get behind by a lot of runs in a game? Say they break out the non-humidor balls, you know
what I’m saying?" Cirillo said.
- AP - Aug 2, 2006

After these comments, scoring returned to normal levels at Coors Field

  • In the 54 games before Cirillo’s comments, teams playing at Coors averaged a combined 8.96 runs per game
  • In the 27 games after Cirillo’s comments, teams averaged 14.25 combined runs per game [via]

I personally find it hard to believe that the Rockies are cheaters and think that the controversy stems from a few pissed off National League players who may be more than a little miffed that the Rox, a team that by all accounts maybe shouldn’t have even made the playoffs are now charging forth into the fall classic. But then again, I’m from Beantown, spiritual home of the Pats.

We here at myninjaplease tend to keep our blizzes in humidors too, too make up for the loss of air resistance at cruising altitudes.

backwoodsallgroup.jpg

email

Post to Twitter Post to Facebook

Posted: October 25th, 2007
at 10:05am by Black Ock


Categories: games,business,weaponry,fo' real?

Comments: 1 comment



 

One Response to 'Baseballs in Humidors'

Subscribe to comments with RSS or TrackBack to 'Baseballs in Humidors'.

  1. i do agree with you. the rox are not suppose to be in the playoffs cause homeboy never touched home plate. this is why the need instant replay homie. I was watching that live too in hd so you kno i seen it clearly.

    X da pimp

    25 Oct 07 at 3:18 pm

     


 

Leave a Reply