Baseball Toaster Bad Altitude
The Newsly Times
2005-08-07 10:19
by Mark T.R. Donohue

The Arizona Republic is pretty disappointed in the performance of the Diamondbacks the past two games. "You know that series that looked like it had golden opportunity written all over it? After a 14-7 shellacking by the last-place Rockies in front of 31,186 at Bank One Ballpark, it will go down in the books for the Diamondbacks as a lost cause." Serves you right for seeing us as a golden opportunity. We're Gen R! Winners of five of our last six! Scourge of the unwary!

"The thing I most like about this team is that it takes losses hard," says Clint Hurdle. Well, finally, they're not just getting mad, they're getting even. Irv Moss says the failed bid for Kelly Shoppach may end up working in the Rockies' favor as Chris Iannetta could be ready sooner than we think. Our very own Troy E. has many nice things to say about Billy Beane, general manager of the first-place A's. Oh, man, I am so not even close to being tired of saying that.

Speaking of Oakland, neither of the ex-Rockies we are keeping an eye on got into the game yesterday, as the A's built a ridiculous 15-run lead and Ken Macha gave 12th man Keiichi Yabu and lefty specialist Ricardo Rincon some much-needed work. Both Jay and Joe pitched on Friday, though. Kennedy picked up his second AL win with 2 1/3 scoreless innings in relief of Kirk Saarloos. Witasick struck out two in pitching a scorless eighth. Both guys have identical 2.08 ERA's since joining the Athletics.

With all the fuss surrounding the trade deadline, I completely forgot about TGTBATB's three-month anniversary last week. Three solid months without missing a day is pretty impressive stuff for me. In five years of college, I don't think a week passed without me ditching at least one class. One year one of my bands went on tour for a month and I just didn't go at all. And I graduated! Let's hear it for the University of California, kids. Of course I don't have to put on pants to post on my Rockies blog, which wasn't true of college classes. As for the band, well, some nights yes and others no.

I'm pretty pleased with the way things have turned out. Back at the beginning of this baseball season, I was an unemployed guy living on toaster waffles without a friend in the state of Colorado. Now...well, I'm still unemployed, but I do occasionally get recognized at the ballpark. (I guess I'm a pretty recognizable guy. I look a lot like myself.) Also, I ran out of syrup. But I digress. Anyway, the MLBlogs community hasn't developed exactly as I would have expected. Rather than being a voice of the fan kind of thing, they've brought in a bunch of ringers, from broadcasters to rock musicians, to try and raise the profile up and lure more paying customers in. It's their business. Still, it seems the only "real" bloggers that have been consistently around since the beginning are me and the guy who does DA BRONX BOMBERS. (That guy rules, by the way. He's giving Yankee fans a good name.) If I were more petty I would point out that some things promised by the initial MLBlogs pitch have not come to pass (what happened to the "Blogcasting" thing?) but if I were in this for notoriety I sure wouldn't be blogging the Colorado Rockies.

That's what it really comes down to. Although I've despaired more than a few times, I can't imagine not seeing this thing through to the end, because I've really bonded with this terrible baseball team somehow. Now that they're finally starting to play the guys I've been agitating for all year (and probably not coincidentally winning a tad) I feel totally vindicated. Certainly with the resources available to me I could blog any team in the league, but I think baseball still remains a regional game in a way the NFL and NBA are not. I like flipping on the radio in my car and hearing people talking (mostly complaining) about the Rockies. I like making it out to the ballpark every now and then and seeing the kids in person.

What strikes me most about this moment in time in Colorado Rockies baseball is that an opportunity is slipping away. Denver is a huge sports market and there's no other major league baseball team within practically a time zone of this one. But people are getting tired of losing. Dan O'Dowd and the Monforts can explain all they like about this losing is different than the last several years of losing, but the casual sports fan doesn't make these distinctions. The last game I went to, I attended in my Mets jersey and cap. I was standing in line with six Mets fans to either side of me. When I got to my seat in the left field bleachers (right behind my main man Cliff Floyd), there was a group of New York fans sitting right next to me and several more a few rows ahead. There were more people wearing Red Sox, Cubs, and even Nationals hats than Rockies-wear. I had a lengthy discussion with the guy sitting next to me about whether David Wright will go down as the greatest Mets third baseman of all time. (Yes.) Even the folks wearing Colorado caps in attendance were unable to indicate a single home player on the field, as Todd Helton was out with an injury. A kid with a Helton shirt and his dad tried fruitlessly for two innings to locate him. I would have felt worse about informing them that Helton was on the DL had they known what position he played.

So what is to be done? I hardly want to encourage the Rockies to try and make a big splash on the free agent market this winter because the free agent class of '05/'06 is shaping up to be perhaps the worst ever. (The big names, courtesy of ESPN's Peter Gammons: SP's A.J. Burnett, Matt Morris, Kevin Millwood, Jarrod Washburn, Jeff Weaver, Kenny Rogers, and Roger Clemens; RP's Billy Wagner and B.J. Ryan; C's Ramon Hernandez, Mike Piazza, Bengie Molina, and Brad Ausmus; 1B's Paul Konerko, Kevin Millar, and Erubiel Durazo; IF's Rafael Furcal, Alex "FLA" Gonzalez, Nomar Garciaparra, Bill Mueller, and Joe Randa; and OF's Hideki Matsui, Johnny Damon, Brian Giles, Milton Bradley, Preston Wilson, Juan Encarnacion, Jacque Jones, and Reggie Sanders.) Who among those guys would really help Colorado turn the corner? The few decent starting pitchers are either unproven (Burnett, Weaver) or injury risks (Morris, Weaver) and will likely be commanding ridiculous salaries given their scarcity. The infield names are unexciting, plus the Rockies' system seems to be well-stocked when it comes to infield prospects. The few outfielders worth taking a look at will all most likely resign with their big-market teams. Brian Giles would be kinda interesting but...nah, it's not gonna happen. Why torture myself?

The thing is, spending money freely hasn't helped, and going full-on youth movement hasn't worked either. The franchise has to start using some lateral thinking if it wants to seize the moment in a division that's become a national joke. Maybe we can move a bunch of our prospects to a team trying to clear salary in the offseason. Maybe we need to take a flier on an injured guy like the Yankees did with Jon Lieber, the Cardinals did with Chris Carpenter, or the Indians did with Aaron Boone. (Maybe not so much Boone.) Maybe it's time we were considering doing the unthinkable and dealing Todd Helton, especially considering how ML-primed Ryan Shealy seems. The thing is, O'Dowd and the Monforts are acting like they have all the time in the world. They don't. Very, very few baseball fans are as bizarrely dedicated as me.

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