Friday, April 19, 2013

A Sign? Or Just Another Crappy Day?

Today a bird pooped on me. I wish I was kidding. Apparently the Italians believe this occurrence is good luck. I happen to believe that catching the sewage from a flying creature around one’s face, is terribly UNlucky. And frankly, it stinks.

 Oddly enough, this is the second time in my life that I have had the pleasure of acting as a porcelain throne for our feathered friends. The last time this happened, I was a junior in high school in the spring of 2007. It stunk then, too.

Who cares, right? But what if those darned Italians are on to something? What if it’s a sign?

If your father is anything like mine, he talks of the glory days of "fill-in-the-blank-team-he-watched-growing-up." For my dad, it was the “We are Family” Pittsburgh Pirates of the late 1960s and into the 1970s. It was Three Rivers Stadium and Willie Stargell and Roberto Clemente, who could “throw out a base-runner, and the ball would never get more than six feet off the ground.”

The Colorado Rockies simply don’t have those stories. No rings, no division titles, no all-time greats. Legendary players include the Blake Street Bombers, Larry Walker, and the Toddfather; most of which probably won’t sniff the hall of fame. Up until 2007, the most wins in a season was 83. And the forecast for the upcoming season was bleak.

Nine ESPN “experts” out of ten chose the Rockies to finish with less than 80 wins, with seven of them predicting a last place finish, with only Peter Gammons predicting an above-.500 season. That season's edition of the MLB preview talked of Todd Helton trade rumors (who would have been traded to the Red Sox, if not for Boston’s hesitancy to part ways with “young gun” Manny Delcarmen. Ha, hindsight can be fun.), expectations for another big year for Garret Atkins, and different scenarios to fit up-and-comer Ian Stewart into the fold. We had a superstar in Matt Holiday, and some young stud shortstop who was supposed to be a decent addition. The pitching could improve, but our lineup would be "stacked" with the power of Atkins, Helton, Holliday, Hawpe, and Ianetta. 

Hmmm…A stud left fielder who seemed like he would be in a Rockies uniform forever... A third base prospect who just needed to find a way to break through to the big leagues… A starting rotation anchored around a couple of regulars with some promise, and some old-timers looking for redemption…A power hitting catcher waiting to take advantage of Coors… A fed-up fan base waiting for the Monforts and O’Dowd to prove themselves…”What to do with Todd Helton?”…Zero expectations...

Sound familiar?

Who knows how good the 2013 Rockies are/will be; They have looked great against the worst teams in baseball, and brutal against our San Francisco nemesis. They may not be contenders, but they sure are better than that Triple-A team who inhabited 20th and Blake in 2012. In a week we could be talking about the countdown until Broncos season once again, making a big deal about OTAs and 7-on-7’s, and it wouldn’t surprise me one bit.

Am I expecting the Rockies to repeat the magical run that captured this town and infuriated television executives at Fox? No. Am I expecting to have tickets to Game 5 only to have my heart broken as the Rockies get manhandled in four? Please God, No.  Am I still wishing/waiting/hoping for Rocktober to electrify this city again? More than anything in the world.

Let’s call a spade a spade; the 2007 Rockies were a bigger fluke than Moby Dick’s tail. It’s not everyday that a team catches fire en route to a pennant. Then again, it’s not everyday that a bird takes a dump on your head.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Rockies-Mets Preview: April 16th, 2013

The Rays and Rangers played “the coldest game in the history of the Ballpark at Arlington,” last week. The temperature? 39 degrees --- Which would be balmy compared to the snow filled streets today in Denver.  The Rockies and Mets are scheduled to play a double header today at Coors, less than 24 hours after a typical spring storm dumped close to a foot of snow in the city. Ain’t no May flowers coming from these April showers. But hey, we need the moisture right?

The expected temperature for today’s afternoon first pitch is 37 degrees, with the sleet rolling in around the fourth inning. Baseball weather. According to the esteemed and respected sources that consume the Twitterverse, the MLB has already pre-approved a triple-header for Wednesday. I don’t think I’m alone in hoping for that scenario to play out; brings new meaning to the importance of a “Short memory.”

But, assuming the Rockies and Mets play the most miserable double header in baseball history (as if they weren’t miserable enough), here’s what you need to know:

  • ·      The Mets roll in with a 7-4 record, having just beaten the Twins in equally as miserable weather, so they are starting to get used to playing with snow balls. The Rockies come in having swept San Diego, so, I’m guessing this snow is just a bit different from the Southern California conditions, but that is pure speculation. The Mets have six wins against the Padres, Marlins and Twins, which aren’t exactly perennial contenders in today’s baseball landscape (A combined record of 10-28 in 2013), and dropped two of three against the only decent team they have played, the Phillies. That being said, the Rockies have all eight of their wins against the Brewers and the Padres, and had one of the most discouraging series I have ever witnessed last week in San Francisco. So both teams have beaten the worst teams in baseball this year, and seemingly joined the cellar-club when faced with solid competition. But for both teams, mediocrity would be an improvement over the misery of 2012.
  • ·      These teams match up surprisingly well in both pitching and batting. Both have pedestrian starting pitching and the Mets gain the advantage when it comes to the bullpen. There’s no hiding the fact that the Rockies “strength” coming into the season, their solid bullpen, has been virtually their only short coming thus far. Cold temperatures and April scheduling could bring the bullpen into focus in this series, so we’ll find out how this group responds. Both teams have swung the bats well also, ranking near the top of the National League in batting average (Mets .272 Rockies .277), Runs (Mets 69, Rockies 65), and the Blake Street Bullies gain the advantage over the entire Major Leagues in terms of Home Runs with 21 through only 12 games (Mets have 15).
  • ·      The only real discrepancy between these two teams in 2013 has been the defensive play. While the Rockies haven’t exactly been stellar, making 4 errors thus far, the Mets rank towards the bottom on the NL with 8 errors. To make matters worse, 8 runs have resulted from Metropolitan shortcomings contributing directly to one of the Mets four losses thus far. Defense will be even more important in the wet, cold conditions here in Anchorag—I mean Denver.

Bottom line: The two games today will emphasize the importance of defense and pitching. Whichever team gets better starting pitching tonight, will set itself up for a successful series.  Pitch counts will be extremely important, and the Rockies can ill afford to walk several batters (yes, that means you Nicasio). The Rockies offense needs to put the pressure on the Mets defense and put the ball in play. If they can continue to get solid starting pitching as they have in all of their wins this season, there’s no reason they can’t win this series. It’s highly unlikely that the offense will bail them out however, and this bullpen needs to step it up.

Player to watch: Troy Tulowitzki—Tulo has consistently destroyed the New York Mets and he needs to continue to do so tonight. With Dex out of the lineup for at least the first of the double header, this offense needs to find its spark from those who are paid to do so.

Tulo has a .373 BA with 4 HRs and 10 RBI in 51 AB against pitchers on the Mets roster including 2 hits in 3 trips against game one starter Dillion Gee.  


Monday, April 15, 2013

All You Need Is Love

“This world must be coming to an end.” This though has crossed my mind far too often lately. In the span of merely nine months, we have witnessed a crazed man turn a midnight showing of a comic book hero, into unspeakable carnage and tragedy. We watched as another estranged man took the lives of so many innocent children and their teachers; an act that supersedes understanding. And now today, on “Patriot Day” in Boston, evil has again reared its ugly head.

The images that flash across the screen are horrific as they always are; scenes of utter bewilderment and confusion; scenes of grief and overwhelming sorrow. And we sit here with our eyes glued to the television, wondering “who?” and “why?” and “Is anything safe anymore?”

But even the purest of evils cannot escape the loving embrace of humanity; of first responders who run towards chaos, forfeiting any idea of personal safety in order to help their fellow man; of the supposed runners who finished the grueling race only to proceed to area hospitals to give blood, to give life; of the Bostonian people extending a helping hand to those without a place to go amidst the chaos. Far outnumbering the cries for justice and vengeance, are the wishes of love and prayer for those affected.

I will never understand how anyone would have so little happiness and love in their life that they would want to take the lives of innocent human beings. But much more astounding, is that love can prevail so strongly in the face of these events. Just as even the smallest beacon of light can destroy the deepest darkness, love will always prevail over hate. So in the coming days, do not voice your shouts for those responsible to be brought to justice; instead voice the shouts of your heart. Show the city of Boston and the families of the injured and killed that we are here to support them in any way possible. Show them that we love them. Because no war or execution will ever rid the world of these types of events. The only way to prevail is through love.