Giant Gamesmanship or Rockie Roguery?

Coors Field humidor room: “These aren’t the super-dry baseballs you’re looking for.”

I’m not attending the Orlando Winter Meetings, but personally I would be sorely tempted to skip out and catch a show or two at Disney World. For the benefit of any GMs that might be reading this, perhaps our NotGraphs readers can help prioritize between “Fantasmic” and “Philharmagic?” Pat Gillick and Ed Wade will be watching the comments section and thank you in advance.

In the meantime, our heroes are hard at work discussing issues like the Rockies’ baseball humidification process. Background: this September, the Giants (and apparently at least one other team) complained to Major League Baseball about the level of independent oversight surrounding the Coors Field humidor. The Giants were bothered by the fact that, since a batboy periodically brings balls out to the umpires during games, the Rockies could theoretically be providing humidor balls when visiting teams were batting and then carrying out non-humidified baseballs when the Rockies were up.

The Rockies responded by letting umpires personally collect the entire stock of game balls from the humidor, but it looks like this issue isn’t dead yet. It’s tempting to chalk it all up to gamesmanship on the Giants’ part; they were just starting an important September series against the Rockies when they made the complaints which initiated the change. Of course, lots of people had that reaction when the Patriots Spygate allegations first came out, and that stuff kind of turned out to be semi-true.




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31 Responses to “Giant Gamesmanship or Rockie Roguery?”

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  1. Travis says:

    Check the home and away splits for the rockies. Then check how Coors field plays for the league. Then check the video of Lincecum getting a ball and immediately realizing that it was a juiced ball. Then put it all together and realize that this is more likely to be true than not.

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    • What’s funny is that Lincecum said after the game that the “juiced” ball in question was softer and more moist than the rest. That would mean the OPPOSITE of a juiced ball, as it retained more humidity than most.

      As for your first two arguments, it’s obvious the Rockies were playing humidor shenanigans in the 90′s (BEFORE the humidor was invented). I mean, Coors Field was MORE of an offensive park then, and the Rockies’ hitters had MORE of home/road splits then. Obviously they were cheating with the humidor in the 90′s and just backed off recently.

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  2. DrBGiantsfan says:

    Whether it was because the Giants got into their heads or because they no longer had the juiced ball advantage, the Rockies’ season sort of went in the tank as soon as the issue came up.

    I don’t know if the other team making the formal complaint was the Dodgers, but there was word that their players were asking the Giants players what they knew about it during a series in SF.

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  3. Jeff says:

    What no one seems to take into account is that the humidor has been in use for the Rockies since 2002. The Giants are just a bunch of whiners and Jon Miller especially needs to get his facts straight. All these things are just going to teams heads and it makes them play poorly. And of course the Rockies have great stats at home, its a great hitters park with the biggest gaps in the league and teams always play better at their home park.

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    • Mark says:

      Abd of course the Rockies FO prioritises employing players whose skillsets will be maximised at Coors even if they may be slightly handicapped on the road as a result.

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  4. Travis says:

    Jeff. Look at how the park plays for the entire league. The splits for the rockies are comical. As far as getting in someone’s head. Take a look at the rockies down the stretch compared with the Giants down the stretch. Thanks for playin.

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    • Mark says:

      Travis –

      Take a look at the Rockies home/road splits prior to 2002. When there was no humidor. They were even more pronounced then.

      Thanks for playing.

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      • Travis says:

        I’m sure that they are using humidor balls most of the time. Just not all the time. Specifically down the stretch. Just because prior to 2002 it was greater doesn’t mean that it is still ridiculous. It’s obvious the Rockies were cheating.

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        • Mark says:

          Right. It was obvious to Lincecum too. Except for the fact that he didn’t even know the difference between a humidored and unhumidored ball. lol

          Has it even occurred to you that there are even fewer controls over how balls are stored and handled at AT&T or every other park in the big leagues? What you folks are alleging could be happening at any ball park – the only difference is that at Coors Field the way the balls are stored is monitored by MLB. That doesn’t happen anywhere else. Maybe MLB should check out whether Timmy, Cain and the gang are so good because the Giants are storing some balls in a sauna and slipping them into the game when their guys are throwing at home. It’s every bit as plausible as Miller and Sabean’s tin foil hat theory.

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    • Jeff says:

      A small sample means absolutely nothing especially when the Rockies fell apart in late September on a bullpen that had been overworked the whole season. Over half their games over the last couple of weeks were on the road and they still stunk. The Giants got hot and the Rockies cooled off, how you can draw more from this is beyond me.

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  5. Resolution says:

    Hey just a recommendation to the author and whoever publishes this – in the future try to present something more balanced. 500 words, the first 200 of which are talking about Disney World and Philharmagic(?) and then implicates the Rockies on unsubstantiated charges is just really really really really poor.

    I’m all for having a real discussion about this as I think it’s interesting and the humidor will impact baseball down the line – especially if it gets widespread adoption, but there’s nothing to even discuss after reading this article. It’s basically saying we’re finding the Rockies guilty before innocent based off of one players reaction and something the Patriots did a few years ago. That sucks man. I’m sorry.

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    • Mark says:

      Heath Bell, you mean? As Andrew explains above, you could call that idiot Lincecum for the defence!

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      • Resolution says:

        Whoever, it’s not really even important. Also just for the record, I think (though I could be wrong) the announcer for the Padres was talking about it as well.

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        • Mark says:

          And the announcer knows something no-one else does? It’s one thing being a homer, but accusing your rivals of cheating with zero evidence. There’s no excuse, ever.

          If this whole business reduces the opportunity for EVERY team in the league to give in to shady practices, so much the better.

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    • Leo Martin says:

      Hey, thanks for reading and thanks for your comment.

      I’m surprised that you interpreted this post as “implicat[ing] the Rockies on unsubstantiated charges.” It really just described articles in the Denver Post and San Francisco Chronicle that reported the facts that a) the Giants have complained about the Coors baseballs and b) this may be discussed at the Winter Meetings. As to whether the Rockies had actually been doing anything wrong, I didn’t express an opinion and went out of my way to note that this could just be gamesmanship on the part of the Giants.

      Man, I had no idea people cared so much about the NL West!
      /East Coast bias

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      • Resolution says:

        Sorry if it came off so defensive – I am a Rockies fan. Honestly, like I mentioned I’m not convinced the Rockies were cheating but I’m also not convinced that they weren’t cheating either so it’s all good discussion.

        Just the article itself, while just presenting media reports, are pretty much presenting reasons as to why we should all be suspicious of the Rockies. The fact that it ends by saying we should be leery of teams to deny cheating, plus possibly the caption of the photo just gives the article a very anti-Rockies flavor. Additionally, it’s really not that hard to drum up some arguments as to why the accusations could be false.

        For me personally, it just read like half an article. I like it and I think the whole topic could have been taken to a better, more numbers-based level or something.

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  6. Travis says:

    Because it is very common for announcers to talk about controversial things like this without being pretty certain that there is something going on. Especially Jon Miller who is one of the most respected in his field. We get that you like the Rockies Mark. Doesn’t change the facts in numbers. We will see how they do next year I guess right?

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    • Resolution says:

      This is Travis Ishikawa isn’t it? Be happy with your ring man.

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    • Mark says:

      John Miller left his respect at the door when he accused the Rockies of cheating. Generously I’ll suggest it was unthinking complacency that led to such an accusation, but then his complacency has been justly rewarded with the loss of his job. Seems a fair outcome.

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      • Jeff says:

        That is exactly how I felt. Great voice, called great games. But to call a team cheaters without a basis of truth, was not what I expected from someone I respected for his professional demeanor.

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  7. Travis says:

    BTW,

    Rockies offense splits:

    Home OPS .866
    Road OPS .654

    Difference of…… .212

    Giants pitching splits:

    Home OPS against .651
    Road OPS against . 716

    Difference of…… .065

    Again, Thanks for Playin.

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    • Mark says:

      All you’re suggesting is the Giants aren’t cheating as effectively as the Rockies, but are still cheating. Thank YOU for playing.

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    • Ryan says:

      You realize that comparing the Rockies offensive splits to the Giants pitching splits to prove that the Rockies are cheating is moronic at best right? Thanks for playing though

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  8. Travis says:

    Mark tell you what. Before you start spouting off moronic statements. Go look at league average differences on home and road splits. Find one team with anything REMOTELY close to the Rockies and I will shut up. I’ll be waiting. And by waiting I mean you have no shot.

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    • Leo Martin says:

      Everyone –

      None of us has the facts on whether anything went on with these baseballs. Arguing that team performance data correlates with one theory or another doesn’t change that. The speculation is fun, but please keep it friendly.

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  9. EGC says:

    They need to do something about that stupid dinosaur that sits behind home plate.

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    • Mark (Giants) says:

      Not to be confused with the Rockies fan above (hence the subtitle in the username).

      Agreed on the Dinger sentiment. It’s ridiculous how the Rockies’ mascot stands behind home and distracts the away pitcher. Late in the game, it’s inevitable to see that three-horned deviant nervously moving as the opposing pitcher toes the rubber and completes his pitches.

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