They haven’t even played more than a dozen games yet, but this season’s successful start by the Colorado Rockies is important.
With Thursday’s doubleheader sweep of the host New York Mets, the Rockies have posted a 10-2 record, which is the best start in Colorado franchise history and is the best record in Major League Baseball.
Yes, I am fully aware that there are 150 games yet to be played. And had I previously been oblivious to this obvious fact, it’s the common retort from every anti-Rockies co-worker here in our San Francisco office. If I so much as mention Troy Tulowitzki’s lights-out start, I get the “long season” statement thrown at me like Brian Wilson chin music. I get it...brushing me off the plate a little. I'll sit back down and stop shouting.
And I also understand that team health and consistency are crucial factors during such a long and grueling season. But don’t undervalue what a quick start could mean for the red-hot Rockies in a tough NL West Division.
No other team has clinched as many National League Wildcard playoff spots than the Colorado’s three since it was instituted in 1995 (however Boston’s seven appearances and New York’s four berths are the most in the AL).
It’s one of those dubious statistics that Rockies fans, such as myself, can both be proud and ashamed of at the same time. Yes, Colorado grinds it out toward the end of a season and reminds the rest of baseball that the Rockies are relevant. But being the wild-card team also means that you just weren’t quite good enough to win your division—over and over.
I still detest the Florida Marlins, who having been born on the same day are the Rockies’ less attractive, yet more successful twin brother, and the Arizona Diamondbacks, the spoiled younger sibling born a few years later, for getting to and winning World Series championships before their better looking and more deserving brother did.
But what’s done is done. We certainly can’t blame Colorado’s misfortune on the opportunistic success of others.
And the Rox haven’t fallen short due to lack of effort and have certainly shown signs of turning into that team that could contend.
The Rockies’ run to the World Series in 2007 was truly magical. Going 20-8 in September after being six games out of first place as the month began, winning 11 in a row and 13 of their final 14 games to sneak into the playoffs was a case of the impossible becoming a reality. Man, I get goose bumps recalling that run still, four years later. And even as recently as last year, the Rox, behind Tulo’s mind-blowing September, made a late charge to contention before just falling short.
But, as I and my heart get older, it sure would be nice for the Rockies to be in position, just once, to not have to play catch-up and chase the leaders for the final month of a season. I’m certain my blood pressure can’t take too many more ‘07s.
A hot start can lead to a season-long leading mentality and a crushing confidence when the fall arrives. It can carry a team for months, similar to the ride the San Diego Padres took last year.
Just 12 games into the season, the Rockies are looking like they are starting to realize that the view from the top can look much better than the constantly being in a position of looking up.
And it's a new feeling. I'm an old school Colorado fan who remembers the few and far between moments to be excited about.
I was there when the team name voting for the new franchise was down to the Colorado Cougars or the Colorado Rockies (I voted Cougars, actually).
I was also there to witness the Blake Street Bombers assaulting car windshields daily in LoDo, and that was a rush.
But I haven't been this excited about a complete Rockies team, well, since the first one in 1993, and that was just because us Denver residents finally had a team.
This year, however, the Rockies are the complete package. And right now, they are playing with confidence and expect to win every game.
Now, I don't think their final record will be 160-2, and I think that we should still stage the World Series instead of just handing the hardware to coach Jim Tracy's squad.
But you're going to have forgive me for enjoying the hot start of a team that wants to return to Rocktober.
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