Been watching the Colorado Rockies rise out of the Slough of Despond and 70-80 Win Seasons for no readily apparent reason and put on an increasingly convincing performance as the Team of Destiny du jour (though it’s still not completely convincing, kind of like movies with Uma Thurman where you have to mentally insert your own idea of a beautiful woman to understand the effect she’s supposed to have on people). Aside from the fact that my current interest seems sort of guiltily bandwagonish, even though my family bought season tickets when they first started playing in 1993, since I, like I’d say about 95% of the rest of the state of Colorado lost interest in them about five years ago, and that I find it interesting that despite having swept two playoff series only one of the baseball writers on ESPN.com predicts that they’ll win more than two games against the Red Sox (which incidentally is about the same as what was predicted for them in those last two playoff series), I think one of the most interesting elements of this whole resurgence is that it seems that one of the most secretly, unexpectedly powerful forces in turning around an entire franchise seems to have been…the baseball humidor!
I remember when they first installed that four or five years ago it was fairly widely believed even in Colorado that a major league team could never be successful there because it was impossible to pitch well consistently at such altitude. And the humidor was roundly ridiculed not only as a last-resort, pathetic, cheapskate solution to the pitching problem but also for the implication on the part of the Rockies that all their lack of success and mismanagement could be attributed to the density of the baseballs. Now, half a decade later, their pitching has been, especially in the postseason, at the least very good, if not spectacular, and they’re at least a playoff series beyond what many people thought they would ever be capable of. And yet, as an example of gaining a competitive advantage through technology (or at least negating a fairly serious disadvantage), it’s gotten about 1/1000 the attention that the Patriots’ filming opposing teams’ defensive signals has, despite the evidence over the last few weeks that suggests that the actual difference those two things have made for their teams that is probably closer to the other way around. Interesting.