Friday, June 13, 2008

Conspiracy Theory: Rockies Playing Ball Game

The legend of the Rockies humidor for baseballs is known by most: able to leap outfield fences in a single bound, the previously "super" baseball in Colorado's thin air is rendered mortal by the kryptonite that is the humidor. Once the team started using the humidor, scoring was not as rampant in the Rockies homepark. However, this was not an absolute, scoring is still on the high side there, just not as bad.

Because of this seemingly random nature, rumors have run through the grapevine since this humidor was put into play that the Rockies would selectively use (or not use) the humidor balls depending on the situation, in order to better their chances of winning, but nothing concrete had ever been exposed that I know of, nor did I seriously think that they would do something like that. Then again, no one ever though a football team would secretly videotape their opponents like the New England Patriots did, which is why I've discounted their Super Bowls wins.

But after this recent trip through the thin air, I have to wonder. Following, for your conspiratorial pleasure, is what I saw:

Game 1

Misch vs. Cook. Misch relies on his breaking pitches extensively to be effective, and he's been very erratic even when on. The thin air and pre-humidor balls essentially makes it near impossible to throw breaking pitches. Cook is known of his sinker and as one of the few (only) pitcher who is not reliant on the fastball to actually pitch well in Colorado.

If I were to fix the game in the Rockies favor, I would use non-humidor balls and try to win in an offensive blowout because the Rockies have more offensive weapons than the Giants and Cook is a better pitcher than Misch is.

Actual result: 10-5 win for the Rockies, their offensive wins the day.

Game 2

Lincecum vs. Jimenez. Lincecum has been dialed in all season and Jimenez has been totally undialed all season. Lincecum isn't helped or hindered much by thin air, but Jimenez would be helped greatly by using humidor balls.

If I were to fix the game in the Rockies favor, I would use humidor balls and try to luck into a win in a pitcher's duel, because either way, Lincecum is probably shutting them down, hopefully the Giants weak offense would be shut down by Jimenez with the help of humidor balls.

Actual result: 1-0 win for the Rockies, in a pitcher's duel, they win in the bottom of the ninth on a blown play at home where they should have been out had the ball been on the screws to Molina, but he was forced to reach for the throw and then try for the tag, bang-bang play, we lose.

FIRST GAME EVER IN THE HISTORY OF THE PARK WHERE BOTH TEAMS WERE SHUT OUT INTO THE 9TH INNING. FIRST! In 15 seasons and 65 games, and I believe the farthest any other game had gotten was into the 7th. And the way hitters weren't hitting, who knows how long the game would have continued if the runner was out. It could have been legendary, mark my words.

Game 3

Sanchez vs. Reynolds. Sanchez has been aces for most of the season and Reynolds has not, much like the game 2 matchup of this series. However, unlike Lincecum, Sanchez would be totally hindered by a pre-humidor ball because he relies on his breaking pitches, while Reynolds was bad either way.

If I were to fix the game, I would use pre-humidor balls in hopes of outslugging the Giants, like in game 1, though this time Sanchez is better than Reynolds, so you would need some luck too, to win.

Actual Result: Giants win in a slugfest, 10-7. The work their way back to 8-7, back one run, but their bullpen blows it and give up 2 more runs, making it 10-7. Giants bullpen has been superb for the most part in the series and helped win this game by shutting D'Rocks down when they needed to.

If you just look at the overall numbers, the Giants don't look like much of an offensive team, but they have had a number of games where they scored runs in bunches. That is what happens when you rely on young players, some games they don't get it and the offense suffers, but on the days they are locked in, your offense does great. We saw that last year, we have seen it this year, we will see it next year.

Sanchez on Pitching in Colorado

Here are some key quotes from Sanchez (underlining what I've said before about getting different looks from each reporter):

  • Mercury's Baggarly usual superlative reporting: "Nothing was working for me. I was wild all day. My ball wasn't moving at all. My slider was spinning, my sinker didn't work and my fastball was up" Holm told Sanchez to throw it over the plate and say a little prayer. However, Bochy thought "he had pretty good stuff," so there was that.
  • Chronicle's Schulman very fine reporting: He got [the win] even though "nothing worked for me. I'd go 2-2, 3-1, 3-0. That's how it was all day. The ball wasn't moving. The slider was spinning. The sinker didn't work. I got the win because the team did what it had to do.
  • sfgiants.com's Haft: "I didn't have my stuff today. Nothing was working for me. I had no movement at all."
  • AP's Pat Graham (I wonder where Janie McCauley is, she usually handles Giants games): "I didn't have my stuff today. My ball wasn't moving."

That's funny, I thought using humidor balls was suppose to alleviate this type of situation. Did someone accidently turn off the humidor? Did someone accidentally pull out the plug, like Marc Anthony did when he thought that Pussyfoot was in the mixing bowl (classic Looney Tunes cartoon)? Grab the balls from the wrong bag? ("Oh, those are from the new ball bag when I grabbed some balls up? Sorry!"

And I can understand if one or two balls, or even a small percentage, for whatever reason, just didn't take to the humidor - for whatever reason - and played like a regular ball would, but this was all game long for Sanchez. He threw over 100 pitches over 5 IP, just enough to get the win. Luckily the Giants bullpen is built more on fastballs this season - which is not affected by the thin dry air - and they shut down the D-Rocks the rest of the game, plus the offense picked up 2 key insurance runs. It would have been much different if D-Rocks were only 1 run back when the Giants bullpen got in trouble.

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