Back in May, the Baseball Observer published this observation:
According to this article in NewsOK.com , the Humidifier was a failure from the beginning, contrary to what the full-time nut case and part time sports reporter for the Denver Post, Troy E. (the “E” is for ) has been vociferously claiming for years:
Rockies’ experiment with baseballs backfires
By Bill Sones and Rich Sones, Ph.D.
Strange but True
Q:What was the point of the Colorado Rockies baseball team placing balls in a high-humidity chamber for several months before games? Were they trying to cheat?
A:It was actually done in the name of fair play, New Scientist magazine says. The Rockies play in high-altitude Denver, where the thin air means batted baseballs travel up to 20 feet farther than at sea level. So, the humidity chambers were an attempt to tame down the overexuberant orbs. Then a team of University of Colorado researchers reported that the Rockies may have gotten things backward: Moisture may make the balls fly even farther. They found that two months in humidity of 30 to 50 percent increased the diameter of the balls by 0.24 percent and their mass by 1.6 percent. While it’s true the bigger, heavier, “squishier” balls come off the bat slightly more slowly and experience more drag, the extra mass more than compensates for these effects as the balls “take longer to decelerate,” and so carry farther. Moreover, the moist balls are harder for pitchers to curve and thus easier for sluggers to hit.
This proves, once and for all, what the Baseball Observer has said from the very beginning: there is no scientific or empirical evidence that storing baseballs in a humidifier makes the slightest bit of difference, except, obviously the psychological one.
Since then, a little more information has come afloat from newspaper articles and television reports. It turns out that Major League Baseball decided, in the interest of fairness, that all baseballs, in all parks, should meet minimum requirements for size, weight, and other, less obvious characteristics. Though neither side will admit it, this caused a change in the humidifier procedures at MillerCoors Field. In the above article, you will notice that they talk about storing the balls in the humidor for months (you may also note that we referred to it as a “humidifier” whereas the Rockies insist it is a “humidor”). What is happening now, at the direction of MLB, is that all balls are required to meet factory specifications. So, the heavier, “squishy” balls referred to above, would not be allowed today. Neither would the balls the Rockies used in the first few years at what used to be called Coors Field, because they were improperly stored and too old, dried out, and light weight to meet the standard.
Ideally, the teams should use balls that are as fresh as possible from the manufacturer and store them in a manner that does not change the condition of the ball in any way. If any team stores the balls such that moisure is added or removed, it is illegal. So, the humidor, when it is used legally, has no effect on the baseballs. The widely varying effects we saw in the Rockies first 10 years were likely a result of improperly buying and rotating the balls, then over-humidifying them when they began using the humidor. The Baseball Brass had to step in because of complaints from other teams, so now the Rockies are not altering the baseballs, with more normal results. Which of course means losing. The Baseball Observer wishes they would go back to the hard, dry, slick balls of the early years. They shouldn’t try to think, because they are not good at it. Things were good in those days, they should have left it alone.