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MLB tweaks the humidor procedure at Coors Field

Apr 5, 2011, 9:33 AM EDT

Coors Field

Last year there were rumblings — primarily from the Giants, but from others as well — that the Rockies were messing with the baseballs from the humidor at Coors Field, giving their pitchers the deader ones and the opposing pitchers the good old, high-flying dried out balls. Baseball now has a new policy, explained by the Denver Post:

An authenticator employed by MLB meets the umpire-room attendant at the humidor before the game, watching as the baseballs are removed. The authenticator follows the attendant to the umpire’s room, where the baseballs are rubbed down. He then accompanies the attendant as the baseballs are placed in the Rockies’ dugout.

During the game, the authenticator sits in the photo well just to the right of the Rockies’ dugout with the ball bag in sight. Because the authenticator cannot leave his post, an MLB-contracted security officer meets the umpire-room attendant at the humidor if more baseballs are required during the course of the game.

That’s not at all complicated. And, it should be noted, it’s the second tweak to the procedure since late last season when umpires were charged with monitoring it all. Now we have the authenticator.

In other news, “The Authenticator” would be a great name for a b-grade super hero. Maybe one whose mission is to thwart memorabilia fraudsters and stuff.

  1. TomTom - Apr 5, 2011 at 9:47 AM

    The Authenticator.

    Starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.

    • fuggles7 - Apr 5, 2011 at 10:04 AM

      Naw.. since The Rock’s acting career has slowed down considerably he’s gone back to the WWE sideshow.

      • TomTom - Apr 5, 2011 at 10:19 AM

        I toyed with the idea of having it star Jason Statham, but I just don’t think enough fast cars and helicopters could be incorporated.

  2. Jonny 5 - Apr 5, 2011 at 10:27 AM

    Maybe just stop using the humidor. It’s lame. If Colorado was meant to let balls fly, so be it.

  3. hank10 - Apr 5, 2011 at 10:32 AM

    ‘Because the authenticator cannot leave his post, . . . ‘

    So, what happens if The Authenticator has to use the restroom, or wants something to eat? Does MLB supply officially licensed Depends? Do they provide food service? Does The Authenticator have to stare at the ball bag all game? Inquiring minds need to know (or not).

    • clydeserra - Apr 5, 2011 at 3:16 PM

      S/he can hold it for 3 hours

  4. tmohr - Apr 5, 2011 at 10:33 AM

    “Because the authenticator cannot leave his post, ”

    I hope he stays away from the coffee pot before the game.

  5. thefalcon123 - Apr 5, 2011 at 10:34 AM

    I don’t mean to cry conspiracy, but the Rockies OPS in 2010 was 200 points higher at home while their pitching OPS was nearly identical.

    2010: Rockies home OPS: .866 Away: .654
    Opponents OPS: .737, Away :710

    2009: Coors OPS: .850, Away: .715
    Opponents OPS: .752, Away: .713

    2008: Coors OPS: .804, Away: .699
    Opponents OPS: .776, Away: .774

    For the last three seasons (at least, this is as far back as I looked), the Rockies offense has a has a HUGE advantage playing in Coors while their opponents hit almost identical at Coors or away. I think any complaints by another team seem pretty valid. It could be that the Rockies managed to employ an arsenal of pitchers whose pitching style negates the effects of the thin air…or something funny could be going on or it could just be an amazing coincidence. A statistician I am not.

    • Jonny 5 - Apr 5, 2011 at 11:02 AM

      This is why they should trash the whole idea. It’s absurd imo.

      • paperlions - Apr 5, 2011 at 1:34 PM

        Except that trashing the idea will kill the Rockies franchise; they won’t be able to sign FA pitchers, and those they develop with be over-used (because they have to throw more pitches) and/or leave as soon as they can.
        It would be much kinder to pitchers to just move the franchise than to remove the humidor.

    • cur68 - Apr 5, 2011 at 11:05 AM

      Since I’m too lazy to figure out the standard deviation, and perform a t-test, I’m going to say that’s significant based on eyeball analysis; the Rocks enjoy a significant advantage at home with on base plus slugging percentage. 25% better in 2010, 16% better in 2009, 13% better in 2008. In fact, based on that rather lame stat work, you could say they really perfected the art of giving the dry balls to the opposition in 2010.

      heh, heh, heh…dry balls to the opposition…heh, heh, heh

    • indyralph - Apr 5, 2011 at 11:56 AM

      The whole NL had a hitting OPS of .747 at home and .700 on the road.

      So the Rockies hitting split is much bigger than the average, while the pitching split is actually reversed – like we would expect. Since the Rockies were a .710 away pitching staff while the league average was a .747 away, I think we can safely guess that Rockies pitching staff was better than average.

      Plus the team defense and pitching staff has likely been designed with their extreme park in mind, so they are likely able to leverage the effects better than teams that visit 3-9 times per year. Smells pretty reasonable to me.

      • cur68 - Apr 5, 2011 at 12:14 PM

        It’ll be easy to tell. One can keep an eye on them this season and see if they trend the same as in 2010, 09, 08. With balls being controlled now, if you’re right and its due to leveraging defense and offense based on park characteristics, they should be around 18% better at home (average of their 3 year difference home and away vs. opponents home and way). In other words, no difference in their marked home field advantage, all balls being the same. If, however, they trend just like everyone else, then there’s a case for them doing some shifty ball work.

      • thefalcon123 - Apr 5, 2011 at 7:57 PM

        Yeah, if you want to be all logical and reasonable about it. I prefer to claim they’re cheating because it’s more fun and I’ve forgotten how to calculate standard deviation since college.

      • thefalcon123 - Apr 5, 2011 at 8:02 PM

        So far this year the Rockies have a .731 OPS at home and null OPS on the road. Interesting….

  6. frankvzappa - Apr 5, 2011 at 3:40 PM

    looks like the Rockies will be finishing last this year

  7. lanflfan - Apr 5, 2011 at 4:19 PM

    I really doubt the Rockies intentionally (or not) cheated, but the stats sure are interesting. More likely, they finally found (and developed) pitchers whose repertoire is better suited to high altitude. Given the issues elevation causes certain pitches, the Rockies will always have problems signing FA pitchers.

    And, if nothing else, they have always been able to knock the ball out of the yard.

  8. ta192 - Apr 5, 2011 at 9:30 PM

    If the humidor really works, then shouldn’t it be a part of every stadium, adding and subtracting moisture from MLB’s balls, as needed…wouldn’t that be the fair thing to do?

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