Trammell challenges use of ventilation

Updated: June 6, 2004, 9:49 PM ET
Associated Press

MINNEAPOLIS -- Alan Trammell thinks the Minnesota Twins might be getting a little help from some timely air conditioning.

The Detroit manager questioned whether the Twins tampered with the Metrodome's ventilation system in the ninth inning of a 6-5 victory over the Tigers on Sunday.

Minnesota took a 6-3 lead in the bottom of the eighth on rookie Joe Mauer's three-run homer. In the ninth, the Tigers rallied for two runs and had the tying run on first with one out when Rondell White hit a deep drive to left.

But Lew Ford made the catch on the warning track for the second out, and Joe Nathan struck out Bobby Higginson to end it.

After the game, Trammell went public with what other teams have grumbled about in the past, saying the Metrodome's ventilation system was blowing air through its outfield vents in the ninth inning to help prevent Detroit home runs.

"We almost made a comeback then and had the issue of whether or not those blowers were on," Trammell said. "It seemed like those air conditioners were blowing straight in our face in the top of the ninth. There was definitely a difference in the air conditioner in the ninth inning. There was no question that there was some air blowing in the ninth inning."

Detroit also lost a potential go-ahead homer in the ninth inning Friday when Ford caught Omar Infante's fly ball on the warning track in left.

The Tigers said a flag in the left-field upper deck was flapping as though it were windy Sunday, and they saw a piece of tape stuck to a vent behind home plate that was fluttering while the Twins were hitting, implying that the Twins -- who scored all their runs on three homers -- were being aided on offense and defense.

"It borders on the ridiculous and the absurd," Twins vice president of operations Matt Hoy said. "It's a romantic concept that we can materially affect the flight of the ball, but it's just not possible."

Hoy said the vents behind home plate don't blow out -- they take cold air off the field and circulate it through a series of smaller vents located around the upper and lower decks, serving as a type of air conditioning system.

Also, during the ninth inning when the Metrodome staff opens some doors to help fans exit the building, more air pressure must be pumped into the building to keep the Teflon roof inflated.

The Tigers are not the first team to express their suspicions about the Metrodome's air currents. Former managers Whitey Herzog of St. Louis and Bobby Valentine of the Rangers also suggested the Twins manipulated the atmosphere to their advantage.

According to Hoy, the commissioner's office and a team of physicists from the University of Minnesota have studied the Metrodome's air distribution system and found its impact on the game negligible.

Trammell said he didn't complain to umpires during the game Sunday, but declined to explain why he waited until after the game to mention it.

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press