Colorado Rockies Baseball: What The Humidor Did


If this seems like it is redundant, bear with me. If this seems like old news, you’ll see where I’m going with this.

The Colorado Rockies installed a humidor in Coors Field in 2002. It is meant to keep the balls in “normal” conditions, where normal means “not at altitude.”

De La Rosa struggled in Coors Field in his brieft stint this season. He did not blame the altitude or the heat. Image: Chris Humphreys-US PRESSWIRE

It was a key moment for the franchise. Their home ballpark was no longer a circus. They no longer had to apologize for having a professional baseball team in Denver. They had other routes to victory besides outscoring their opponents 16-12. And perhaps most importantly…

…they didn’t have to talk about it anymore.

Adrian Dater, author of a collection of facts about the Colorado Rockies’ history as a franchise (100 Things Rockies Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die), dedicates a chapter to the installation of the humidor. He concludes the chapter on the refreshing note that the organization did not have to talk about altitude making it impossible to pitch in Denver anymore: “No longer did they (Rockies pitchers) feel like they were gripping a cue ball in their hands with the built-in excuses for failure that were always on their minds” (page 45).

Dater gives Todd Helton the final word in the chapter: “It was good for the organization and good for baseball…It leveled the playing field for everyone and took away all the excuses” (page 45).

Hear hear! No more built-in excuses. 

One of the most disconcerting developments of the 2012 season was the re-emergence of the built-in altitude excuse. Management was at least wise enough to nuance those claims a little bit, by either blaming the hot weather for cancelling out the humidor or blaming the altitude for injuries, not the number of runs surrendered by the pitching staff. Still, it has become troublesome the same way that it was troublesome prior to the humidor. They blame the altitude instead of their lack of talent for bad results.

The whole point is that the humidor made it so that the challenges of altitude and Coors Field fell in line with the degree of difficulty that any other team experiences in a distinct home park, like a pitcher friendly park on the west coast or a band box in Cincinnati. The park matters, but we no longer give it so much credit that it explains away the struggles of the team. What management needs to understand is the fact that that should not change, no matter how bad things got this season or how well the ball seemed to carry…

…or how hot the weather was…because seriously, we don’t want to hear it anymore.