Haven't known what to say the last several days as the Rockies have swung from yet another low (another disappointing home series against a bottom-feeder, losing two of three to Florida) to yet another high (sweeping a doubleheader against wild card rivals Los Angeles). Every time I've praised the Rockies this season, they've immediately gone on a cold streak, and I'm too tickled by the idea of having printed playoff tickets to call my very own to want that to happen. I'm a pessimist, but I'm not that vengeful. And if Colorado does finish hot I can attribute it all to Willy Taveras's season-ending injury.
It was something old, something new for the Rockies in the doubleheader sweep Tuesday: Todd Helton finished out the night win with a throwback homer and in the day game Colorado got a much-needed acelike performance from Jeff Francis, who struck out 10 in beating the Dodgers 3-1. Francis was lousy in his last start in Philadelphia, and the Rockies really needed him to be his old self with their bullpen running on hope and baling wire at this point.
I'll tell you a secret: I still feel pretty confident that the Rockies aren't going to make the playoffs, as I have for some time now. There's just too many teams ahead of them and too many weeks have passed with there be no change in the number separating Colorado in games back from the wild card leader. Every time they have a chance to make a move, like the two games they blew in Philadelphia or the pathetic showing against the meaningless Marlins, they show they're not ready. Some players are, Matt Holliday, Helton, Francis, and Manny Corpas notable among them, but as a team they need more healthy starters, more reliable bullpen help, and a manager with a steadier hand and more winning credibility.
So is a best-ever win total and a mention in the postseason races up until the last homestand of the year good enough? It's better than I expected for the team, and remarkable given the plague of injuries that for the second time in three years has mysteriously befallen what ought to be (given its extreme all-around youth) a mostly healthy organization. I still think it's going to take a multi-round playoff run AND a seriousness-proving long-term investment in a homegrown player like Holliday to get Denver-area sports fans back into Rockies baseball. But with such an encouraging second half this season, the possibility of those two conditions coming together in the near future seems far less remote than it did in the early months of 2007.