Growing Pains from Colorado Rockies Baseball

As the losing streak wears on, Colorado Rockies fans are getting worn out. Is Colorado prepared for the grind that lies ahead of them if they want to embrace baseball?

During this losing streak, the only thing surprising about the result was the time—1:00 AM. The walk-off win for the San Francisco Giants was the inevitable ending of the 14-inning game Tuesday night. A long slog of innings could only delay the Rockies demise—as they failed to grab big hits and extra bases.

The rational response, as I turned off the TV and headed to bed, was to say with a smile, we’ll get them tomorrow. Instead, I felt exhausted—not so much by the time, but by the never-ending pressure of the Rockies’ losing.

Baseball doesn’t feel that rational right now. Even as we’re seeing it played the right way in Denver for the first time.

The Rockies are checking off all of the boxes. To become a baseball town, Denver has to experience a full season. From April to September, the Rockies fan base has to follow each wave of the 162-game schedule with attention and anticipation. It can’t fizzle out in August or only get going after the all-star break.

I still think the 2017 Rockies are our ticket to real baseball. This season’s team could make the Rockies a clear part of the Denver sports calendar where the sports year is divided between the Broncos and Rockies. In the midst of a losing streak, it’s hard not to check the calendar for the start of training camp.

Some of the despair Rockies fans feel right now is from calibrating to a new pace. Baseball doesn’t work like other sports. It does not hold up well in a 24-hour news cycle. In the NFL, we get a week to break down all of our outrage. In baseball, sometimes it’s only 12 hours—like from Tuesday night to Wednesday afternoon. Baseball requires fans to follow trends, rather than single data points.

In looking at the issue further, the roller coaster of emotions each day is the ride. These elements of the 2017 Rockies are nearly annual events for fan bases of other National League teams like the Mets, Cardinals, Pirates and Cubs. All four teams have been miserable at times in 2017 since April. They were all miserable last year—even the Cubs. This up and down nature is baseball fandom.

Other teams feel similar frustrations. The bats aren’t heating up. The long man in the bullpen frustrates them. They can’t understand why everyone is on the DL. They’re frustrated by baseball the way we’re frustrated by football in Denver….

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The grind of baseball is daunting. The season is exhausting at times and it requires a restraint you don’t see in football. When Bradley Roby plays poorly for a game, it’s the topic of the week. When Charlie Blackmon has an awful game, you have to let it go and hope he recovers quickly.

This patience has masked the pitching staff slides. People were still praising the Rockies starters and bullpen two weeks ago. Now, things are a mess. Antonio Senzatela pitches only six times in a month. If he’s sliding, he can hide it between five days off. Tyler Chatwood and Jeff Hoffman have been billed both as stoppers and batting practice pitchers from start to start.

The bullpen doesn’t fall apart all it once. It’s a slow slide. The batting issues take time. The bats have dried up on the road again. It’s why Ian Desmond isn’t being crucified for being a disappointing free agent signing.

You have to hold both a short-term view and a long-term view in this game. Each game is part of a trend rather than a final result.

In this losing streak—the rational fan in me tries to fight back and say that this is how baseball works. A game is just the tick of a minute hand. A ten-game losing streak is the equivalent of losing one NFL game.

And then Jordan Lyles warms up for the Rockies and I ask, “When have sports ever been rational?”

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Every Rockies fan I know is in anguish right now. Part of this feeling is being a Rockies fan even though the numbers say the 2017 Rockies are still a good team. They’re going to string together three winning months to start the season for the first time ever. It doesn’t matter to the fans because we are not rational.

We made the mistake of getting too high after Nolan Arenado’s heroics on Fathers Day. The Rockies may have even believed in their own infallibility a little too much. Now, the team needs to try not to get too low in this current stretch.

Here’s the problem. The old Rockies still live in all of our minds. In classic Rockies vernacular, this isn’t a slump. This is the point where the team falls apart. That’s how it feels right now—they’re losing like the old Rockies.

Of course, the old Rockies had nothing to lose.

This Post originally appeared on 5280 Sports Network, now a part of Mile High Sports

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