Here you go. This is it. My final Rockies column of the season.
At least, that is, until something happens – which, in Colorado, can generally be defined as “Opening Day.” We all know how this looks from here on out.
As soon as Labor Day comes and goes, we all shelve the Colorado Rockies like linen shirts and white pants. They’re tucked away until spring. That’s just what we do.
Like clockwork, they’re out of it – have been for a while now. There’s an off chance that some individual, statistical achievement is on the line – something we might keep an eye on from time to time – but even that can be “Rockied.”
Remember when Justin Morneau “won” the batting title last season? The Rockies first baseman coasted in, hitting .319, the lowest average for an NL batting champion since Atlanta’s Terry Pendleton hit .319 in 1991. Save for a late inning pinch-hitting appearance in the anticlimactic finale, an at-bat that wouldn’t have affected the race, Morneau sat out the season’s last two games. He bested Pittsburgh’s Josh Harrison, who went 0-for-4 during the Pirates’ last game. Rockies manager Walt Weiss stood behind his decision to bench Morneau, offering no excuses and gladly admitting the reason: So that his slugger’s batting title could be secured.
A golf clap ensued.
The fact of the matter is that once Peyton Manning and Co. take the field on Sunday against the Baltimore Ravens, talk about the Rockies, good or bad, ends. Period.
If Carlos Gonzalez or Nolan Arenado wins the home run title, if Arenado finishes with the most RBIs in the majors, if Charlie Blackmon steals more bases than anyone in baseball…
Sadly, nobody will care.
And what a shame. The 2015 Rockies have some of the most exciting players in baseball, and all of them will be playing out the string in virtual anonymity.
Here’s why: Nothing changes. Ever.
A fan of the St. Louis Cardinals – if given the roster and the results of the 2015 Colorado Rockies – would be excitedly trying to figure out how such a promising young nucleus can improve next season. They’d be thrilled by the health and coinciding production of Gonzalez. They’d revel at the thought of making Arenado a cornerstone of the franchise. And they’d be quietly pleased to have a bevy of solid professionals – Blackmon, D.J. LeMahieu, Nick Hundley – in the clubhouse. They’d be okay with an aging Jose Reyes (who’s statistics are on par or better in some cases than the departed Troy Tulowitzki), knowing that they’ve got a solid shortstop prospect in Trevor Story down on the farm. They might even be excited about rookie hurler Jon Gray.
Despite the results, they’d know there was something there, something to work with, something to build upon.
But that’s because they’re Cardinals fans. They have hope.
Rockies fans? Well, it’s Broncos season, and we know how this plays out. Please, don’t bother us with silly optimism.
The baseball offseason in Colorado is about as exciting as September; a few things take place, but none of them are cause for pause in the Broncos discussion. Worse yet, the franchise has a history of overvaluing late season successes (“Hey, the Rox have won four of their last six you know…”) and mind-numbingly believing that injuries were the reason the pitching was poor. Again. The Rockies go into every offseason believing that – when healthy – they’re just a piece or two away from being respectable.
Most teams who needed until Aug. 25 to claim their 50th win would be discussing, or at least privately considering, sweeping changes. But do you think the Rockies will do anything earth shattering between Sept. 30 and Opening Day?
If you do, welcome to Colorado.
Want to make a splash and regain a little credibility with your fanbase, Rockies? Here are two quick and easy suggestions:
First, fire Walt Weiss. He’s a great guy, an honorable man and he’s been given a crappy pitching staff from the very beginning. But he’s also never sprinkled any magic over, never squeezed more wins than he should have out of his mediocre ballclub. His teams have always run the bases like Little Leaguers. It’s not personal, but it’s time for a change.
Second, can that stupid mascot. Dinger has always been a joke, but at this point, his antics are synonymous with organization.
Here’s a dare: Pick a random 2016 game, one that nobody will give a damn about (say, a Tuesday night game against the Padres). Tell fans that if the game is sold out within a week of the schedule being released, Dinger will be ceremoniously “let go” – once and for all. Then call Paciolan to handle the web traffic.
Forgive me for sounding so jaded. I’m generally a positive person. But it’s the day after Labor Day and this might be my last chance to vent about the Rockies. Because if I wait until next Tuesday, my thoughts and ideas on the Rockies will only get buried in Broncos minutia.
So, this is it. Until next season, Rockies.