Best Goofy Sports Gizmos (2003)

The Rockies' Humidor and Hyperbaric Chamber

The entire history of Denver's hapless and benighted major-league baseball franchise has been a losing battle against the physics of altitude -- specifically, the thin air that torments pitchers trying to throw curveballs at Coors Field, and that allegedly puts Rockies batters off their stride when they play on the road. Last year, the Rox installed a humidor meant to cool and moisturize their baseballs so the ol' horsehide would react as at sea level. The jury's still out on that move. This time, manager Clint Hurdle has positioned a time clock by the entry to the dugout as a reminder to the Rockies that they have to work each day. But that's not all. The scientific wizards of Rockiedom are talking about using a fancy hyperbaric chamber that would simulate the atmospheric conditions of full-speed batting practice in, say, Philadelphia or Chicago -- although it won't replicate the breeze at Wrigley Field. Will the new contraption make any difference to a club that collectively batted 79 points lower on the road than at home last year? Who knows? Ask Todd Helton and Larry Walker come mid-July.


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