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Dome Atmospherics

Billy Button

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Heard Fred Manfra say the other night that the reason R.A. Dickey was having a bad start was because he was pitching in a dome stadium and the atmosphere isn't as dense hence making his knuckleball less effective. Is this true?

No! The dome would have to be airtight and with some kind of ventilation system that pushed out more air than it brought it to force a lower inside pressure than outside. I don't know of any reason you'd do that. In any case The Skydome is a retractable roof stadium, half the time it's not even a dome - it's open to the outside. It's certainly not airtight inside, so even if the roof was close and the ventilation was biased toward expelling air I would think the pressure differential would be trivial.

Some domes, including the Metrodome and the Carrier Dome, do have roofs that are supported by air pressure. But that means the internal pressure is slightly higher than outside. Higher, not lower. When you go into a dome like that there are all revolving doors, the place really is more-or-less airtight, to keep the internal pressure up to support the roof. But that's exactly opposite of what Manfra was suggesting. The atmosphere there is thicker than it would otherwise be.

The current fixed domes in MLB - Tampa... ummm... is that the only one left? Well, Tampa has a roof supported by beams and structure, not air. So it should have an internal air pressure very similar to the outside.

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Why oh why is the knuckleball not yet retired into the annals of baseball history?

(besides hitters not being able to hit it.)

Because it works. Because despite the fact there haven't been a lot of knucklerballers at any one time for 50+ years there have been a lot of very good knuckleballers. Wilbur Wood, Hoyt Wilhelm, the Niekros, Tom Candiotti, Charlie Hough, Wakefield... all guys who pitched well, mostly for a very long time.

Dan Boone was a little 5' 8" lefty who picked up a knuckler in his 30s, after being out of the game for a while, and pitched a few games for the O's in the early 90s. I think he threw a no-hitter for Rochester. That's one reason the knuckler never dies - Dan Boone was 100% done as a professional ballplayer and the knuckler got him all the way back to the show.

Logically I'd think there would be a lot more knuckleballers, not less, or none.

According to wiki, RA Dickey is the only Knuckler left. Who throws it as a primary pitch anyway.

In the majors. There are always a few kicking around the minors, including the Orioles' own Eddie Gamboa. Charlie Zink looked like he could be the next good knuckleballer in the Red Sox system a few years ago, but he seems to have washed out of the minors. The Southern Maryland Blue Crabs have (or recently had) a guy named Joe Gannon who threw the knuckler, and he'd actually made it as far as briefly appearing for the O's AAA team a number of years ago.

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Heard Fred Manfra say the other night that the reason R.A. Dickey was having a bad start was because he was pitching in a dome stadium and the atmosphere isn't as dense hence making his knuckleball less effective. Is this true?

Was this a Dickey excuse?

...or a Fred Manfra assumption?

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Not anymore. The Red Sox called up knuckleballer Steven Wright today.


Sometimes the Red Sox do some cool stuff, and that just makes me hate them more. Didn't even know Wright could play baseball, much less throw a knuckler. And knuckleballers peak late, but geez, 57 is pushing it.

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