In need of pitching relief, the Rockies can’t seek shelter

Colorado Rockies General Manager Jeff Bridich tried to throw money at his team’s bullpen in the offseason and it cost the team a shot at the playoffs. With the Rockies trailing in the National League West by nearly double-digits, the hope of a division title is gone. The Wild Card also isn’t going to play into their hands. This team is sliding fast—without much hope in the way of relief (or relievers).

If Jeff Bridich went to Princeton instead of Harvard, perhaps he would have read one of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s books.  Fitzgerald’s novels, backed by a Princeton education, have similar morals. Throwing money at a problem will not solve it.

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Originally posted on Mile High Sports

The National League should adopt a Hybrid Designated Hitter

As the Colorado Rockies play in the National League, the debate about the designated hitter (DH) is a common topic of conversation. To escape talking and even thinking about the Rockies recent bullpen woes, let’s instead consider a new way to think about the hitter’s spot in the National League (NL).

The rest of baseball has abandoned pitchers. The American League, minor leagues, and even colleges don’t have pitchers hit. It’s no wonder that pitchers serve almost no statistical purpose hitting in Major League Baseball. I’m happy to change other league’s rules back to having pitchers hit, but I don’t think that will happen.

However, I’m opposed to just adopting the designated hitter rule in the NL. The National League changing to the American League DH rule would kill many of the strategic elements of the game.

Currently, an AL manager doesn’t have to deal with the tough decisions like when to leave a pitcher in the game when his batting spot is due up, managing benches and double switches. It’s much more like playing a video game and going through the motions. This is why I don’t want to abandon the idea of having a pitcher’s spot in the batting order, but it could be tweaked.

Instead of a regular DH, I propose a hybrid DH.

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Originally posted on Mile High Sports

The Fleeting Hope of a LeBron James Denver Legacy

This is the kind of in-between article that can only exist before an event like free agency when a big question hangs over everything in the NBA. The question: Where is LeBron James going to end up? The answer is, of course, probably not Denver. However, there are enough breadcrumbs leading to the Mile High City that the current answer isn’t “definitely not Denver.” Plus, the Nuggets current roster has the pieces to build around James.

The first person to wear a new Denver Nuggets jersey at a press conference could be LeBron James. This is a weird concept that loops in images of both Peyton Manning in orange and Carmelo Anthony in baby blue (I’ll get to those two).

In a couple of weeks, this analysis will be nothing more than an alternative time capsule for what the Denver Nuggets could have been. For now, it’s fun to think that Denver could rent the King. Or, more accurately, that the King could rent the Nuggets.

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Originally posted on Mile High Sports

The Rockies are throwing away an elusive NL West title

Last weekend, the Colorado Rockies’ overpriced bullpen crumbled in a series of games versus the Los Angeles Dodgers at Coors Field. The Rockies fought their way to the top of the mediocre National League West in May, only to have the Dodgers knock them down.

That’s a familiar narrative.

On Thursday, the Rockies climbed back into a tie at the top of the division, only to stumble again as they lost to the Reds in 13 innings. The bullpen blew a three-run lead that the Rockies carried into the eighth inning. The Rockies’ experiment of throwing money at the bullpen is costing them more on the field than it is with the checkbook.

As the Rockies once again flirt with the top of the standings heading into a weekend series against the Arizona Diamondbacks, they crave that top position in the division. No team in baseball seeks the respect a division title would bring more than the Rockies. They’re one of two teams in the MLB without a single division title — and the other one has two World Series rings.

The Rockies have failed to win the National League West in 25 straight seasons (their whole existence). The first year, they lost to the Atlanta Braves (when there were still four divisions in baseball instead of the current six divisions). Since then, they have watched the four other teams in the division sit atop of the NL West. The Los Angeles Dodgers have done it 10 times, the San Diego Padres four times, the Arizona Diamondbacks five times and the San Francisco Giants five times.

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Originally posted on Mile High Sports

Mike Haynes was the championship voice of the Avalanche

The glory years of the Colorado Avalanche were narrated by the voice of Mike Haynes.

This week, it was announced Haynes has resigned as the Avalanche’s television play-by-play broadcaster. The news was sudden and has yet to be explained. As comforting as Haynes was on the TV broadcasts with Peter McNab during the team’s down years, he made his mark on the radio in the late 1990s after the Avalanche moved to Colorado from Quebec City.

Before TV, he was a great radio guy.

Before the explosion of the internet, the radio crew was a lifeline for fans. Haynes was the always familiar voice driving the action, especially during the playoffs, when many games were only covered on TV nationally (or in 1996, on pay-per-view). Haynes, along with his color commentator Norm Jones, had the only local call for the Avs’ two Stanley Cup Finals victories.

I was five years old during the Avs first season and, from the beginning, I wanted to be Mike Haynes. I loved how he made hockey seem effortless. A great hockey radio announcer has the ability to use his or her voice to match volume and inflection with the play. There’s a big difference between a shot that has no chance to find the net and a shot that’s about to go in. Haynes cadence and enthusiasm drove those calls over the AM radio frequency.

I distinctly remember my favorite Mike Haynes radio call — I unfortunately can’t find a recording of it online. It was a Saturday afternoon game against the Detroit Red Wings in 2003. The Red Wings were attacking.

“Save, SAVE, SAVEEE by Roy. Those were three of the best saves you’ll ever see… Or hear… On the radio.”

I loved that Haynes added rich, off-the-cuff remarks, in-between action.

His 1996 call of Uwe Krupp’s overtime winner to bring home the Stanley Cup stands out for its energy in capturing the moment, while also providing the listeners with all of the relevant information.

His 2001 Stanley Cup call of Joe Sakic handing the Stanley Cup to Ray Bourque will live on forever as the perfect way to capture that emotional moment in NHL history.

He also had several memorable fight calls, including Joe Sakic beating up Doug Gilmore,    “How do you like them apples Gilmore?” And the Roy-Osgood fight. “ANOTHER RIGHT BY ROY.”

A radio play-by-play job involves a ton of mental work. You have to be able to paint a picture for the audience in your head while keeping them informed about the score and previous action. Haynes painted that picture as well as anyone. In fact, when he moved over to TV, I loved that he still had that event-focused style that fits radio better.

In 2013-14, I was the radio announcer for the Denver Cutthroats, a now-defunct minor league hockey team that played in the Denver Coliseum. I remember the first time someone asked me if it was hard to call hockey because the game moves so fast.

I’d never thought about the question because Mike Haynes made the whole thing seem so effortless when I listened growing up. I never matched his talent-level that year, but I tried to emulate the emotion and rigor he brought to the job.

Haynes carried Avalanche fans through two championships and six Western Conference Finals. He shaped the way fans at the time interacted with the team more than anyone whose name is not on the Stanley Cup. He taught us how to pronounce Forsberg and Ozolinsh and Roy.

He shaped that era of Avalanche hockey. It didn’t matter how many times he said it, Avs fans spent years hearing Haynes say, “Joe Sakic with the puck, shot, SCORE. SUPER JOE!”

And no one said it better.

Originally posted on Mile High Sports:

The four conference finalists have lessons for the Nuggets

While watching the NBA Conference Finals, it’s hard to see much of the Denver Nuggets in any of the remaining teams. Sure, the names of former Nuggets litter the rosters: J.R. Smith, Andre Iguodala, Nene, Mike D’Antoni and JaVale McGee. But the current Nuggets don’t strongly resemble any of the four teams.

The Boston Celtics, Cleveland Cavaliers, Houston Rockets and Golden State Warriors all have one thing that the Nuggets are struggling to find as a franchise: each team operates with a plan in mind, organized around principles set forth by the front office, and executed by the coach.

The Nuggets don’t have a plan that is easy to identify.

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Originally posted on Mile High Sports

An apology for all of the money we’re going to cause gamblers to lose

Imagine that sports gambling was already legal in Colorado. I would need to issue the following apology letter:

“I’m really sorry. I made a prediction. You believed that prediction because you trust my opinion. You took my opinion down to Double Barrel Or Nothin’ (the Shotgun Willie’s Sports Book). You lost.

In your mind. I lost you that money and now you’re furious.

I don’t blame you. I thought that the Rockies could beat Jordan Lyles on Tuesday because I saw how bad Lyles could be when he pitched for the Rockies. How was I supposed to know that he would throw a perfect game through seven innings?

That’s why I’m apologizing.”

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Originally posted on Mile High Sports

Denver’s next great sports rival is Las Vegas

You’re from Denver, so you must hate Las Vegas, right?

Okay, that’s not what you’re thinking now. It makes no sense. Vegas is great!

But that hate may eventually come.

Right now, Vegas only has one major professional sports team. NHL’s Las Vegas Golden Knights are in the Western Conference Finals and hope to win the Stanley Cup in their first year of existence. For now, Vegas is the fun team to root for—they have showmanship, a band of players that were turned away by their old teams, and an exciting sense of newness.

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Originally posted on Mile High Sports

Who’s on First? The Rockies Are Open to Suggestions

For 17 years, the Colorado Rockies never questioned who played first base. It was No. 17 — Todd Helton. Helton’s glove made everyone, including Nolan Arenado and Troy Tulowitzki, better defenders. He hit into the gaps at Coors Field better than anyone—smacking 592 doubles for his career.

Todd Helton was first base for the Rockies. He’s the only Rockies player who has had his number retired by the team. The Rockies even gave him a horse when he hung up his spurs for good.

Since Helton left, the Rockies have filled his old job with veterans Justin Morneau and Mark Reynolds.

Last offseason, Rockies general manager Jeff Bridich decided to go in a different direction. When Bridich signed Ian Desmond to play first base, we all fell into the trap.

Just imagine ‘Family Feud’ host Steve Harvey asking the question: “Who’s on first base for the Colorado Rockies?”

By and large, the Rockies’ community was the ‘Family Feud’ team whose crazy uncle shouts out a terrible answer.

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Originally posted on Mile High Sports

As Colorado Avalanche reach for new heights, more peaks ahead

For Game 3 and 4 of the Colorado Avalanche-Nashville Predators series, Pepsi Center in Denver was a tough place for the visitors to play. The crowd was in hysterics. It propelled the Avalanche to victory in Game 3 and almost pulled them back from behind in Game 4.

The thing I missed most about playoff hockey during much of the last decade was the atmosphere at a home game. There’s really no other experience in sports quite like the end-to-end intensity of a consequential hockey game. With the fate of your season resting on a small black disc, every bounce of the puck is mesmerizing. In the playoffs, each save is a close call and goals are either blessings or curses.

The Pepsi Center crowd during the last couple of games had an intensity and optimism for a new era of Avs hockey. After years of being an NHL afterthought, the crowd took over the game. The crowd seemed to know they were part of the event — more self-aware of their influence on the game.

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Originally posted on Mile High Sports