Last year there were rumblings — primarily from the Giants, but from others as well — that the Rockies were messing with the baseballs from the humidor at Coors Field, giving their pitchers the deader ones and the opposing pitchers the good old, high-flying dried out balls. Baseball now has a new policy, explained by the Denver Post:
An authenticator employed by MLB meets the umpire-room attendant at the humidor before the game, watching as the baseballs are removed. The authenticator follows the attendant to the umpire’s room, where the baseballs are rubbed down. He then accompanies the attendant as the baseballs are placed in the Rockies’ dugout.
During the game, the authenticator sits in the photo well just to the right of the Rockies’ dugout with the ball bag in sight. Because the authenticator cannot leave his post, an MLB-contracted security officer meets the umpire-room attendant at the humidor if more baseballs are required during the course of the game.
That’s not at all complicated. And, it should be noted, it’s the second tweak to the procedure since late last season when umpires were charged with monitoring it all. Now we have the authenticator.
In other news, “The Authenticator” would be a great name for a b-grade super hero. Maybe one whose mission is to thwart memorabilia fraudsters and stuff.
Jim Salisbury of CSN Philly reports that the Phillies are close to signing free agent reliever Joaquin Benoit. An announcement is expected before the winter meetings end on Thursday.
Benoit, 39, has quietly been among the better relievers in baseball over the past seven years. This past season with the Mariners and Blue Jays, the right-hander put up an aggregate 2.81 ERA with a 52/24 K/BB ratio in 48 innings. That included a 0.38 ERA in 23 2/3 innings after the Jays acquired him from the Mariners.
Benoit suffered a torn calf muscle during a benches-clearing brawl with the Yankees near the end of the regular season. He’s expected to be healthy for spring training.
The Phillies have now added three relievers this offseason with Benoit, Pat Neshek, and David Rollins.
ESPN’s Pedro Gomez provides a previously unreported detail of the new collective bargaining agreement, agreed to by the owners and the players’ union last week. Players’ meal money for road games is being reduced from $105 to $30 per day. Teams are providing pre- and post-game meals in the visitors’ clubhouse to offset some of the decrease in meal money.
Gomez quotes an unnamed player who said, “I doubt many guys know about the money going down, nor would they have agreed to it.” All of the players Gomez contacted said they were unaware of and unhappy about the change.
Clubhouse attendants are certainly unhappy about this change, too. As Gomez notes, the attendants previously provided food for visiting teams which earned them tips from the players.
EDIT: It’s worth clarifying that chefs are required in clubhouses now as part of the new CBA, so it’s not a complete loss for the players.