Urban: Better Late Than Never on Humidor Balls

September 25, 2010, 9:12 pm
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Sept. 25, 2010


Mychael Urban

DENVER --In what might be the biggest DUH in baseball history, Major League Baseballhas decided to assign an independent (i.e., league employee vs. a Rockieslackey) to monitor the process of ferrying game balls from the humidor at CoorsField to the umpires working the game.JohnShea, the national baseball writer for the San FranciscoChronicle nicknamed Columbo for his propensity for doubling backwith one last question in an effort to make his case stick, broke the storySaturday afternoon.Theresbut one appropriate reaction: Its about damn time.Seriously.This is something that should have been done the moment the humidor was broughtinto play, so to speak. That was more than eight years ago. But for reasonsnobody is either willing or able to explain, MLB trusted the Rockies to handlethe process on their own until now.So thegame balls, in theory deadened by the humidor, were handled by a Rockiesemployee, and of late there have been all sorts of accusations of shenanigans.Topsamong them was the charge that non-humidored balls were being put into playwhen the Rockies were at bat late in games, while the opponents were forced tomake do with the balls that had been stored in the humidor in an effort tocounter the thin Rocky Mountain air.Fridaysgame was far from a typical Coors Field affair, with the teams combining forthree runs on five hits, but there was at least one instance in which theconspiracy theory seemed plausible.It camein the bottom of the eighth inning, right after a new ball had been put intoplay. The end result was a fairly routine ground ball to third base off the batof Miguel Olivo, but never before have you seen a routine ground ball get tothe third baseman as quickly as did this one. It was as though Olivo had hit agolf ball. Or a superball. Or anon-humidored ball.TheGiants, Shea reported, filed an official complain with the league Friday night,not long after ace Tim Lincecum treated lip readers with a colorful in-gametake on what he called, among other things, the juiced balls with which hefelt hed been given to work.Its hardto believe the Giants are the first team to complain about a situation soclearly rife with potential problems, but give the league credit. This was acredibility issue, and anything that threatens to undermine the integrity ofthe game should be handled posthaste.