Mike Hargrove has seen enough baseball to know that good pitching usually beats good hitting. He also admits he's never seen a game at Coors Field.
Mark McGwire gave a clue as to what might happen at the All-Star game tonight. His 510-foot drive was the highlight of Monday's Home Run Derby, won when Ken Griffey Jr. - booed in batting practice - hit a few third-deckers.Kevin Costner, John Elway and country singer Tim McGraw also reached the seats during a celebrity round of batting practice.
Then again, none of the pitchers serving up those shots that left the park headed toward Wyoming was named Greg Maddux, Pedro Martinez, Curt Schilling or Roger Clemens.
"I managed for a year down in Colorado Springs in the Pacific Coast League in 1989. I'm a little bit familiar with how well the ball travels in this part of the country," said Hargrove, the Cleveland manager who will guide the AL.
Certainly, there will be a slugger's attitude mixing with the Mile High altitude this evening.
There's McGwire, leading the majors with 37 home runs. There's Griffey and his 35 homers. And there's Juan Gonzalez with his 101 RBIs.
"I think I have a vision of a high-scoring game," AL starter David Wells of the New York Yankees, "but hopefully not when I'm in there."
Just in case, he's got a strategy for pitching in Denver - "Duck!"
In the year that Roger Maris' record of 61 is in danger, fans are no doubt hoping to see a repeat of the 1971 game when future Hall of Famers Reggie Jackson, Hank Aaron, Johnny Bench, Roberto Clemente, Frank Robinson and Harmon Killebrew all connected at Tiger Stadium.
Playing at Coors, which ranked No. 1 among major league parks for most home runs in 1996 and 1997, it could be a wild affair.
"It's a great hitters' ballpark," McGwire said. "You have to realize that Coors Field has a gigantic outfield where balls will fall in," McGwire said. "Normal singles in most ballparks will be doubles if you have speed."
Home runs, however, are not the only way to score at Coors. Because as even the best pitchers in the business realize, playing at Denver presents all sorts of problems.
"Sliders don't slide as much, curves don't curve as much," said Maddux, the NL starter.
Maddux, a four-time Cy Young winner, knows from first-hand experience. In three starts at Coors, the Atlanta ace has allowed 14 earned runs in 181/3 innings.