Sunday, February 11, 2007


Before Spring training squads take the field, Bud Selig added one more law for MLB franchises to follow. A strange one at that.
The commissioner's office is telling teams for the first time that balls must be stored at a uniform temperature after they are delivered from the manufacturer.

The decision was made following debate generated by the Colorado Rockies' use of a humidor at Coors Field. The ballpark ranked first in the major leagues in scoring in its first eight seasons, starting in 1995, but dropped to second in three of the last four years behind Arlington's Ameriquest Field (2003), Cincinnati's Great American Ball Park (2005) and Kansas City's Kauffman Stadium (2006).

Colorado said in 2002 that it had installed the humidor. The Coors Field scoring average, which peaked at 15.0 runs per game in 1996, dropped to 10.7 last season, the lowest ever, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

In recent years, fluctuations in home runs and scoring have led to greater scrutiny of baseballs. Since 2000, the commissioner's office has arranged annual tests at UMass-Lowell Baseball Research Center.

The Rockies humidor incident has become the stuff of American folklore. Maybe Helton will go back to hitting 40 homers with the tighter restrictions placed on Colorado's deadball barbecue.

With the 2007 season just around the corner, I thought I'd discuss some of the teams which are already generating buzz as potential "surprise" clubs. A lot of talk has centered around a particular AL Central team chock full of talented players who're on the brink of becoming household names. Their arsenal also includes a strong AAA crop that could reach the show this season. So I ask you, will the following team be a pretender or contender in '07?

"Yo, bartender, Jobu needs a refill." If Cleveland gets off to a slow start, I wouldn't be surprised to see the reins handed to Mr. Buck Showalter.

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