Searching through the multiple images of the Colorado Rockies 2008 baseball season, I found the most fitting representation in a catalogue of Getty Images to describe this Rockies fan's feeling. The sun setting in the background of both the season and of our only legit superstar, Matt Holliday.
2008 was brought to a close with the bad after taste of a season that began with so much hope and intrigue, only to spiral into a black hole of injuries, and the ultimate salary dump. Most Rockies fans hopes for the future have been dashed with the departure into said sunset of our superstar Matt Holliday, traded to the Oakland A's for what a casual fan may see as a mixed bag of half-eaten peanuts and prospects.
This fan however sees some hope, but hope has been something that Dan O'Dowd graciously swallows up and regurgitates out into mediocrity all too often as of late. My lasting memory of Mr. Holliday will not be his towering homerun shots to the left field bleachers, but the lonely Rockies fan that I saw with my own two eyes standing outside of Coors Field the day the trade was finalized.
Taking my usual drive home from my office, I took my normal long way where I could cross 20th St & Blake to pass by my favorite Denver Landmark...Coors Field. Taking my normal trip I saw him, and what I saw brought laughter at first, and then great pause immediately after. "They are who we thought they were!" That infamous Dennis Green quote that has been replayed in infamy from every sports talk show or beer commercial talking about his teams firm snatching of defeat from the jaws of victory.
There, dressed in Rockies gear from head to toe this loyal fan stood in front of our great stadium holding this sign. One could only hope that both the Monforts', and O'Dowd were able to see this perfect piece of fan appreciation on their way out of their offices to truly understand the pulse of what the loyal fan base was now thinking. Fast forward to the present, and we will get back to that hope this one fan (me) has promised, and let me explain my reasons why. Yes, we lost our star, yes our other two stars were injury riddled disappointments. (Mr. Helton & Tulowitski) But for 2009 I look to the fall of 2007. Ryan Spilborghs, Seth Smith, and Manny Corpas had the breaths of our city firmly in their hands, riding on their potential during key spots, and began to show us our hope.
Transfer that hope to Tucson, and look at the potential of where we are today. Clint Hurdle gets to look out at an outfield that is locked up contract wise for the next three years (Hawpe, Smith, Spilborghs), and with the bright prospect Dexter Fowler's speed paired with a zippy Scott Podsednik, things look a little brighter. Combined these three should surely compensate for Holliday's power as a group.
With the infield finally somewhat set after last years musical chairs, the Rockies should be able to gel back into their 2007 No. 1 statistical defense of all time form. Add to that mix a crafty veteran like Jason Marquis to add to a rotation of Aaron Cook, Jeff Francis, and Ubaldo Jimenez, and you'd be hard pressed to not be impressed with how the Rox stack up on paper to their NL West foes.
The final hope for 2009 is that our iconic figure Mr. Helton can return to ranks of the upright after his brutal back injury, and bring with him his leadership, and solid defense back to our infield. Let this be a hope that lasts, and let the Rockies endure a season without the injuries and off-field contract distractions be a thing of the past. Next year I'd like to find a picture similar to this years...the sun fading against a Coors Field backdrop. Only this time, the picture can be set in late October. And, this time, maybe I could be holding the sign after another euphoric postseason run that can say..."We are who we thought they were!"