Baseball at Coors Field is a different beast than baseball elsewhere. We all know that. Altitude makes the ball fly farther and break less and the thinner air tires out players faster than their counterparts closer to sea level.
For years the Rockies have tried to figure out ways to deal with that, changing everything from roster composition to player usage to conditioning to the size of the fences. And, most famously, they have used a humidor in order to attempt to keep the baseballs from flying as far as they do when they get dried out.
In the latest Sports Illustrated Albert Chen has a fascinating story of the history of the Rockies efforts to deal with baseball at altitude. Some of those efforts were basically nuts:
They have hired a slew of consultants. For every idea that has been put in place, dozens have been discussed but either scrapped or set aside. Years ago officials considered turning the ballpark into a dome and pressurizing it to mitigate the effects of the thin air. More recently the front office and training staff discussed converting the entire home clubhouse at Coors Field into a hyperbaric chamber to help players recover in an environment where there’s a lack of oxygen.
That dome idea may be the most insane thing ever. Partially because of the cost and logistics, but mostly because one of the best things about Coors is the view. Good that got scrapped.
Beyond all of that, it’s a fascinating story, with a lot of time spent walking down memory lane. Sometimes their bad memories — Rockies’ bullpen coach Darren Holmes has to relive his memories of getting shelled at Mile High Stadium in 1993 — but some are just funny. Like how the Braves would manipulate their rotation in order to have whichever of their future Hall of Fame starter was having the best season avoid Coors starts so their stats wouldn’t get messed up and negatively impact their chance at a Cy Young Award.
Good times. For hitters anyway.