FREE hit counter and Internet traffic statistics from

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

A Pitcher's Hangover?

While thumbing through the Rockies official magazine sold at the ballpark I found a nice article called The Guide to Coors Field by Owen Perkins. In it, the author talks about the history of Coors Field and of course the issue of playing at altitude from the perspective of the front office, hitters, managers, and pitchers.

In the section on the front office Perkins discusses how GM Dan O'Dowd came to the Rockies with lots of theories about winning at altitude that haven't really paid off. However, he did note that...

"while O'Dowd had done his homework on the physics of baseball at altitude, he found the most significant factor was still an unknown - the effect of the altitude not on the ball, but on the players.

'That's been the biggest learning curve,' O'Dowd confides. 'Physical wear and tear. It's what the game does to you physically, because of the recovery time from altitude, that can't be duplicated anywhere else. You need to build a deeper club that has more interchangeable parts, so you don't have to keep running the same guys out there day in and day out.'

The Rockies have responded by implementing a new training program, specifically designed to prepare players for that physical wear and tear and to help the home team avoid what Greg Maddux calls the 'pitching hangover' that makes its precense known throughout the body a day or two after pitching at altitude."

Both insights - that the Rockies think that physical training is a key to winning here and that Greg Maddux has talked about a pitching "hangover effect" - are news to me. I had always attributed the problem more to the lack of break on curves and sliders in the thin air and low humidity. If there really is a pitching hangover it should manifest itself in starts made by all pitchers after starting Coors Field and in that case then perhaps the effect can be measured. Stay tuned.

To summarize the section O'Dowd noted. "'We have some things internally that we really believe that we're on to that I'm not going to share with anybody..But I don't think there's any one magic formula that's going to change the way the game is played."

No comments: