Schmuck of the Week

Colorado Rockies all wet? Shmuck of the Week humidor conspiracy theorists think so

Hu-mi-dor, noun: 1) A case or enclosure (as for storing cigars) in which the air is kept properly humidified. 2) A catalyst for baseball conspiracy theorists, primarily those in NL West, who can't handle Denver's dry air.

The humidor where the Colorado Rockies have been storing their baseballs for eight years is back in the news this fall as the team chases a possible playoff spot along with the San Diego Padres and the San Francisco Giants.

It seems that some people still think the Rockies practice of keeping baseballs inside the humidor -- a practice that has been approved by Major League Baseball -- and their process of getting those balls onto the field gives the team carte blanche to cheat.

In fact, Jon Miller, the Giants' play-by-play announcer, who also does Sunday night games for ESPN, started the fire in July when he made the following baseless comments:

"There's a feeling that the Rockies are doing something with the humidor-stored baseball, and sometimes late in games when the Rockies need help, that some non-humidor baseballs slip into the mix. Nobody has been able to prove it... But to me, it's something that baseball needs to address."

Right. There's also a feeling that perhaps Miller sounds like a Giants flunky.

Miller's allegations have been repeatedly criticized and debunked since he made them. Take this column, from ESPN's Mark Lemire:

Though Miller has presented a fascinating conspiracy theory given the Rockies' late-innings heroics (they have 25 come-from-behind wins this season), it is only that -- conspiracy. The numbers this season suggest little deviation in the later innings.

Because the home team, of course, doesn't bat in the bottom of the ninth in games they win -- and the Rockies have won fifty games at home -- a comparison of Colorado's production in innings six, seven and eight at Coors Field and in those same innings on the road ought to illustrate the difference. It's expected that a club with an even distribution would have roughly 33 percent of its production in those three innings.

The Rockies have hit 100 home runs at Coors Field this year, but only 30 -- i.e. 30 percent -- came in the sixth, seventh or eighth inning. On the road, the Rockies have hit 57 home runs, of which 21 (or 36.8 percent) of them have been in the sixth through eighth innings.

Similarly, the Rockies have 764 hits at home, with 267 of them coming in innings six through eight, which is 34.9 percent of the total. They have 551 hits on the road -- 170 have come in innings six through eight, which is 30.9 percent.

Never mind the logistical impracticality of implementing such a plan -- sneaking baseballs not stored in a humidor into the game and having no one notice -- the numbers are pretty comparable, seemingly debunking Miller's allegation.

Keep you eye on the ball, Jon. Otherwise, you just sound like a Shmuck.

Read about more Shmucks in our Shmuck of the Week archive.

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Jonathan Shikes is a Denver native who writes about business and beer for Westword.
Contact: Jonathan Shikes