During the Phillies-Rockies game Wednesday night in Philadelphia, the broadcasting crew got into a debate about Todd Helton’s Hall of Fame credentials. Play-by-play man Dave O’Brien said that many people feel Helton playing at Coors Field will hurt his case because the altitude in Denver resulted in astronomical offensive numbers. Analyst and former All-Star Nomar Garciaparra disagreed, going off on a rant where he said the humidor should be illegal.
“It’s not his fault that’s the way it is there at Coors Field or let alone balls put in a humidor which I think is illegal,” Garciaparra argued. “You don’t adjust the equipment because of the ballpark. If there’s an issue with the ballpark, you shouldn’t have a ballpark there. If you’re going to have to adjust, if you’re going to determine guys’ value whether they’re worth the Hall of Fame because it happens to be in a place where there’s altitude, then you’re going to have to make adjustments to all the ballparks. ‘Well it doesn’t count because Fenway’s wall is so much closer than somewhere else.’ Right field at Yankee Stadium, maybe we’ll use balls that don’t count when they fly out that far, we’ll use a humidor there. You’re going to have start making adjustments, so this shouldn’t happen just because of the surroundings of a ballpark.”
While I disagree with Nomar in that the difference in ballpark should always be a factor in evaluating players, he’s right that Colorado probably shouldn’t have a team. It’s not that the market can’t support the team, and I’m not saying the Rockies fans are bad. That’s not the issue. The issue is that baseball isn’t meant to be played there if you want all teams and stadiums to be on similar ground. Denver literally is not; the elevation is a mile high and the ball carries, resulting in absurd levels of offense.
The introduction of the humidor in Colorado seems to have neutralized the elevation, but is it ethical? That’s a good question, and Nomar might be right. If you have to alter the baseball just to make it a level game, should you be playing there? I’d argue probably not, and I know Tim Lincecum is with me because he has a related problem with Coors Field.Google+