Sports columns are intended to take sides, or at least take a stance. But not this one.
The goal of this here rambling is simple: To encourage you to take a deep breath, hop squarely atop the fence and simply observe – just for a minute. After one day of beautifully played baseball, there’s no reason to jump to conclusions. It’s a fast-paced, must-state-your-opinion, Twitter-iffic sports world. But please, just sit back and shut up.
If you’re a Rockies fan, be happy – no question, after a 10-0 Opening Day butt kicking in Milwaukee, you should be.
If you’re a Rockies hater, one of those folks who simply loves to bash every move the franchise makes while discounting every good deed, this is not time to remind everyone how one game means nothing, how Kyle Kendrick has a lifetime ERA of 4.42 and how he’s only pitched two shutouts in his career, or how Tulo and Cargo were both miraculously in the lineup darn near eight meaningful innings. It’s not cool to stand atop the highest building to loudly remind everyone that there’s no way that this can keep up.
It’s one game, people.
The hyperbole that follows baseball’s Opening Day is borderline intolerable. There’s this temptation to make grandiose assessments of baseball teams after one game, the one that’s further from October than any other.
Yesterday, the Rockies – pitching, hitting, catching, fielding – looked fantastic. That’s not an opinion; it’s a fact. Offensively, a lineup that looked like the 2015 version of Murderer’s Row had 16 hits, eight of which went for extra bases. Troy Tulowtizki and Carlos Gonzalez – the guys who have to be great in order for the Rockies to be – combined to go 5-of-9 with three doubles.
The pitching performance was reminiscent of the 2007 Rockies winning formula: The starter gets to the seventh. Set up man. Closer. Game over. Kendrick was unflappable. Going seven full innings, he gave up seven hits but zero runs. He posted six strikeouts and no walks.
Other facts for the positive people: When healthy, the Rockies have one of the (if not the) best hitting lineups in baseball. When you score 10 runs, it usually doesn’t matter how good (or bad) your pitching staff is. The Rockies have only made that postseason in years following losing seasons (yes, that’s a fact).
Now, facts for the realists – or, in some cases, the pessimists: Tulowitzki played just 91 games in 2014, and he’s not younger in 2015. Gonzalez played in just 70; he too is one year older. On paper, the Rockies pitching staff is not, by major league standards, impressive. The Rockies faced 36-year-old Kyle Lohse yesterday; they did not face Madison Bumgarner, Zack Greinke, Clayton Kershaw or James Shields.
Fact: They’ll “get to” face all of those guys (plenty).
Fact (that proves Opening Day means nothing): The best two seasons in Rockies franchise history (2007 and 2009) began with an Opening Day loss. In their worst season ever (2012), the Rox opened with a win.
So, where does that leave us?
The Rockies looked like one helluva ball club yesterday, but that’s it. We don’t know what kind of team they really are. We don’t know if they’ll stay healthy. The hitting lineup is intriguing, and there’s some hope for a pitching staff that receives its fair share of criticism. Yet, history says that it’s wise to keep hope in check.
Let’s leave it at this: Yesterday was a lot of fun. Winning is better than losing (another fact, right?).
There’s nothing better than watching your own major league team play like a major league ball club. But please, put the hyperbole – good and bad – on the shelf, at least until June.
Enjoy the moment and hope there are more like it.