September 26, 2010

Giants accuse Rockies of cheating : SF pitcher Tim Lincecum called a ball "juiced" during Friday's game. Giants sportscaster Jon Miller outright accused the Rockies of using non-humidor balls when on offense this summer. No proof has been offered, but the Rockies agreed to have an umpire supervise entire transport of balls from humidor to field.

posted by MKUltra to baseball at 12:39 PM - 8 comments

"Well, that was good while it lasted." Troy Tulowitzki.

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 11:25 PM on September 26, 2010

Can someone who knows more about this than I respond? Is the storage of balls in the Coors Field humidor actually required by MLB rule? Even if someone believes that the Rockies are using non-humidorified balls, it seems a bit nutty to suggest that they would somehow be able to slip them in only when they're on offense.

posted by Adam at 01:59 AM on September 27, 2010

Doesn't the umpire get balls from the team-supplied ballboy/girl?

posted by NoMich at 07:22 AM on September 27, 2010

So Jim Tracy manages the Rockies, he's at Coors Field nearly every day the team isn't on the road ... and he doesn't know where the humidor is?

I'm not saying he's cheating, but that's a pretty stupid thing to say, even if it is true.

posted by wfrazerjr at 08:08 AM on September 27, 2010

Correct, the team supplied ballboy/ballgirl/clubhouse attendant fetches the balls from the humidor and provides them to the ump. While balls will get reused and lost in the shuffle, it's not impossible to imagine a scenario where balls are refreshed with non-humidor treated balls, specifically when the Rockies are up to bat. Of course this would mean someone is cheating and deserves to be punished.

I actually find it to be really bizarre that the league doesn't control all of the balls in all of the ballparks. If humidity of the environment that the balls are stored in effect the flight of the ball that much, there's nothing to say that something similar isn't happening elsewhere around the league.

posted by AaronGNP at 01:16 PM on September 27, 2010

I do know that it is possible to switch out the baseballs in various ways. When I was in high school I was the batboy/clubby for the single A team in my town. At the beginning of the season the pitching coach came to me and gave me a task to do each game, which was when the umps brought out the bag of balls that they had rubbed up with the mud, I was to go through the back and sort out the lightly rubbed up ones from the darker ones. The reason for this was that they hitters could pick up one ball better than the other (I can't remember which way it went) and we would only send that type of ball up to the ump when our guys were hitting.

This worked out well until about half way through the season I accidentally called a young batboy (the nephew of one of the owners) who was working with me back because he had grabbed the balls out of the wrong bag. The ump noticed so when the kid came back he said the ump wanted me to bring the next batch of balls out to him. I went out with the next batch in between innings and he asked me why the kid had back tracked earlier and I told him it was because I liked the feel on the balls I was holding better. The ump smiled and told me that if it happened again, he would toss me and the pitching coach out of the game (it seemed that the pitching coach had a reputation for pulling this trick). When I got back to the dugout the pitching coach came over and asked me what it was all about and I told him, and he told me to keep doing it. From then on we just were a little more discreet when that umpiring pair was in town, sending the occasional bad ball up when our guys were hitting just to make it less obvious.

I understand how the humidor is supposed to help, but I don't know what procedures MLB has put in place to make sure that everyone is getting the same balls all the time.

posted by Demophon at 02:17 PM on September 27, 2010

Here is a piece by Rob Neyer that highlights the safeguards in place, which effectively boil down to "trust the Rockies."

posted by holden at 07:48 PM on September 27, 2010

Excellent story, Demophon. Thanks for sharing.

posted by NoMich at 08:36 PM on September 27, 2010

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