By Gus Jarvis | 4/15/16
Here in Colorado, it’s hard not to go into this budding Major League Baseball season a curmudgeon. Here we go on the long road to a 162-game season in which the Colorado Rockies will continue their downward trend in becoming one of the perennial worst teams in baseball.
Yes, it’s becoming all too familiar at the beginning of each season. The scenario is becoming a broken record in Denver. The Rockies ownership does very little in the offseason to seriously bolster its pitching. As usual, the team hopes that a few strong bats will be able to outscore the opponents despite their clear advantage over the Rox pitching staff. It is a formula that may work here and there but for those teams seriously looking to win a division, it rarely does. There’s a reason the Rockies last five years have been below .500. Three of those years the Rox have lost at least 94. Seriously, these are Houston Astros-type of seasons before they got their act together.
It is this lack of pitching mentality, along with injuries, that has stunted the Rockies growth into becoming any sort of team worth watching the past few years. Clearly, I’m not explaining anything new here. We all know that the game of baseball, no matter what level, is all about the pitching. You either dedicate yourself to a superior pitching staff or you don’t. Those who don’t, don’t usually make it too far. It’s all about the pitching and in Colorado, it’s never about the pitching unfortunately.
So it should have been no surprise that most of the national sports media at the start of the baseball season gave the Colorado Rockies absolutely no chance at being contenders this year in what looks to be, once again, a very strong National League West Division. Reviews for the Rockies this year were pretty dismal.
“Colorado has a strong farm system, but the team doesn’t have that kind of organizational savior on the way,” stated Sports Illustrated in its season preview. “…On the heels of a 94-loss season, the Rockies didn’t make any high-impact moves, and they’re no threat to win the N.L. West.”
“…the Colorado Rockies did little this off-season to address their rosters,” stated The New York Times’ preview. “Outside expectations are low, and they know it.”
Or, how about this raving review by Yahoo! Sports: “The Rockies look like contenders every offseason, but reality always tells a different story. One of these years, the bottom will fall out completely, and this could be it. Until it does, though, they’re a perpetually directionless franchise just wandering deeper into baseball’s abyss.”
Damn. Reality sucks. Depressing.
But…here we are, nine games into the season and already things aren’t so bad. As of Friday morning, the Rox find themselves at 5-4 and only a half game behind the Dodgers and Giants who are tied at the top of the N.L. West. (I know, I know it’s way too soon in the season to talk records but the Rox are above .500 so we have to enjoy it while we can.)
Of course, the surprising story for the Rockies so far is rookie history maker Trevor Story who had a first week in the majors like no other player has had before him. Story hit a record seven home runs in his first six games. Just a week in the game and his batting helmet used during that stretch is being sent to be enshrined in Cooperstown.
With Story banging homeruns every single game for a week, the national spotlight was on the young kids, as well as the Rockies. A very unexpected start to the season that flew in the face of many naysayers, including myself, who believe the Rox will do nothing this season.
On Wednesday, Nolan Arenado, who may be the best third-baseman in all of baseball, went off at the plate and gave the Rockies the runs it needed to beat the Giants and actually take two out of three in the series. Arenado went 4-for-5, two of which were homeruns. He hit seven RBIs, which was a career high for Arenado.
In the end of the 10-6 win over the Giants, the Rox, as a team, set a franchise record by hitting four triples and tied a previous record by hitting 12 extra-base hits.
Make no mistake about it, it’s way too early in the season to say that the Rockies winning trend will last. Who knows how long they can keep their record above .500? But I do believe there is a takeaway here from the first two weeks of the season and that is the young players on the Rockies roster are out to prove something.
I get the feeling when watching them that they have an attitude about things and that they truly want to succeed in the face of harsh criticism and expectations. When Arenado dinged one over the fence in that game, he looked straight over to the dugout to get his team fired up. Maybe they can produce enough offense to make up for their pitching? I think they believe they can.
Right now, the team has a certain swagger. They have an attitude. Being able to keep that attitude and swagger in such a drawn out and long season is almost impossible. The Rox may not have much but they have a team looking to prove naysayers like myself wrong. I hope they can keep their swagger and impressive bats working to prove me wrong.
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