Quote of the day

I’ve found in life the more you practice, the better you get. If you want something enough and work hard to get it, your chances of success are greater.

~Ted Williams

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Storing baseballs in humidors

Offense is down throughout Major League Baseball this season. For the first time since 2015, there was less than one home run hit per team, per game, for the month of April:

2022: 0.91

2021: 1.14

2019: 1.31

2018: 1.09

2017: 1.17

2016: 1.05

2015: 0.91

A number of factors are responsible for the reduction in home runs, and one of those factors involves how baseballs are being stored. During the 2021 season, 10 teams around the league stored their baseballs in humidors. This season, in 2022, all 30 teams are storing their baseballs in humidors.

Humidors are climate-controlled chambers that emulate the boxes used to preserve cigars. Humidors ensure baseballs are stored at average humidity. In places like Colorado and Arizona, where the parks are notoriously hitter-friendly, humidors prevent baseballs from drying out. This practice, therefore, helps pitchers, since dry baseballs have more bounce and can fly farther off the bat.

One would think the opposite effect would be true in the more humid ballparks, like Miami or Tampa Bay — that keeping the balls relatively dry would provide an advantage to the hitter. However, physics indicates that this is not the case. True, the dryer baseball would come off the bat at a faster rate. However, that lighter, dryer baseball would be flying into comparatively thick, humid air, which increases air resistance and slows the ball down.

The effect of humidors can be seen when comparing offensive numbers from 2021 to 2022 for teams that previously had humidors versus those for whom the humidor is a new addition this year.

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espn.com

Offensive numbers in the ballparks that already had humidors in 2021 look similar this season. However, in places where the humidor is debuting, offense is noticeably down around the league.

It does make sense that all 30 parks should be playing with the same baseballs, stored in similar conditions, as that can help preserve a more even playing field and reduce the varying effects of certain parks. This change could also be construed as a concession to pitchers, as humidors can make baseballs easier to grip.

Notably, the use of humidors isn’t the only change to the league’s baseballs this year. In response to the high home runs rates in recent seasons, tension was loosened on the first of three wool windings within the ball itself. Rawlings’ research prior to the start of the season estimated the adjustment would reduce the ball’s bounciness and also reduce the ball’s weight by 2.8 grams without changing its size. These changes were designed to lose one to two feet of distance on balls hit more than 375 feet.

It’s hard to tell with any definitiveness which of these factors is impacting offense more. It will be interesting to see how the season progresses, and whether offensive numbers remain consistently down through October.

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Colorado Rockies humidor (AP Photo/Ed Andrieski)


Happy Star Wars Day!

May the Fourth be with you and with your favorite ballclub. Hope all your teams win today, I do.


Kelsie Whitmore makes Atlantic League history

In case you missed it, this past Sunday, May 1st, Kelsie Whitmore became the first woman to start in an Atlantic League baseball game. Nine days previous, Whitmore had appeared in a game with the Staten Island FerryHawks as a pinch runner, making her the first woman to play in a league associated with Major League Baseball. On Sunday, Whitmore’s mark on history went even further when she started the game against the Gastonia Honey Hunters, playing left field and batting ninth.

Kelsie Whitmore (Twitter)

Having previously played for the United States women’s national baseball team from 2014 to 2019, Whitmore just signed with the FerryHawks in April. She was given only a few hours’ notice that she would be starting in Sunday’s game, but later stated, “I wasn’t really nervous because I’ve been mentally just visualizing and getting comfortable. So at the end of the day it is still baseball, and it really felt like another day at the ballpark.”

Whitmore went 0-for-2 as the FerryHawks lost, 10-5. Nevertheless, the game marked a major feat for women in baseball. Thanks for the inspiration, Kelsie Whitmore, and may your success in baseball continue!

USA Today


This day in baseball: Honus Wagner steals his way around the bases

In the second game of a double header against the Cubs on May 2, 1909, Pittsburgh Pirates infielder Honus Wagner stole his way around the bases. After reaching first on a fielder’s choice, Wagner proceeded to steal second, and then third base. On Ed Reulbach’s third pitch to Bill Abstein, Wagner took a long lead off third base. According to Chicago Tribune sportswriter Sy Sanborn, the play unfolded as follows:

Wagner timed his dash splendidly and before Bid Ed could untangle his waving arms and legs, to say nothing of his wits, he was within a jump of the pan. With that final jump he cleared the remaining distance and actually hit the plate before the ball left Reulbach’s hand. It was the cleanest, most unquestioned steal of home … ever yet accomplished.

The Pirates went on to win the game, 6-0.

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Honus Wagner in 1911 (Library of Congress)


Quote of the day

When they knock you down, you not only have to get up, but you have to make it clear that you won’t be knocked down a second time.

~Carl Yastrzemski

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rallypoint.com


This day in baseball: Bock Baker gives up 23 singles

In a game against the Chicago White Stockings on April 28, 1901, Cleveland Blues pitcher Bock Baker gave up 23 singles, which allowed Chicago to cruise to a 13-1 victory over the Blues. As a result, Baker was tagged with the dubious record for giving up the most singles by an American League pitcher in a game, a record that still stands to this day.

Cleveland Blues 1901 logo - sportslogos.net

Cleveland Blues, 1901 logo (sportslogos.net)


Kansas City Royals City Connect uniforms

The Royals revealed their City Connect uniforms a couple days ago, and I’ve gotta say, these fits are slick.

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I’ve seen many of the other City Connect unis that have come out throughout the league, and for the most part, I’ve liked what I’ve seen. I haven’t hated any of the others, but in all honesty, these KC threads are the first uniforms that I’ve truly loved. And I am so stoked that it’s the Royals that get to sport them.

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The Royals will be sporting these beautiful outfits this coming Saturday, when they take on the Yankees. Fingers crossed they can pull off a win that looks as good as they will.


Quote of the day

Slumps are like a soft bed. They’re easy to get into and hard to get out of.

~Johnny Bench

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Johnny Bench, 1973


Keeping score

My freshman year of high school, I played on the JV softball team. But whenever the JV team wasn’t playing, I was effectively the backup 2nd baseman for the varsity team. And while this meant I got to travel with the team for varsity tournaments, it also meant I rode the bench a lot for those games.

One game, we found ourselves without a scorekeeper. There were no parents willing to do it (or who knew how), and the JV coach was acting as 1st base coach for this varsity contest. Faced with limited options, the varsity coach called me over, sat me down with the scorebook, and gave me a crash course in scorekeeping. For the rest of the year, I also became the backup scorekeeper for the varsity team. From my sophomore year on, when I was a true member of the varsity squad, I became the backup scorekeeper for the JV team.

Equipped with this new know-how, I began keeping score whenever I’d listen to Royals games on the radio late at night in my room. My pencil-and-spiral-notebook system of scorekeeping was a much-simplified system compared to what I knew could be done in a true scorebook, but I still found it a great way to stay engaged with the ballgame.

My habit of keeping score for Royals games became sporadic, at best, after graduating high school, until the practice became virtually nonexistent. Today, however, I sat down with a notebook in the minutes prior to the start of the Royals-Mariners contest and I created that same, crude little table I used to make on those late nights as a teenager. I filled in the lineups for both teams, and as the game commenced, I tracked the results of each at-bat.

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The ghost runner didn’t exist the last time I scored a game, so that was a new experience — I created the not-so-imaginative notation “GR” to note the ghost runner. I really thought I was going to have to start a new page when I used up the last player spot for Royals pinch hitters, but the conclusion of the game in the 12th sadly prevented that from becoming a necessity.

I’m pretty heartbroken that the Royals ended up losing in extra innings (and got swept by Seattle in the process). But I rediscovered how much I enjoy keeping score and the act of watching every at-bat with so much intent. I definitely need to reignite this practice as a habit, and hopefully it won’t take too long before I get to score a Royals ‘W’.