Two of my biggest pet peeves about 2007 Rockies baseball have been addressed in the last few days. Interestingly, in both cases the solution was the same thing. The first is that none of the games have been on in high definition right here in the Rockies' home market. The second is that the team never wins any series on the road. So what was the answer? The NL Central, of course. The Cardinals obviously have HD cameras all over their beautiful new ballpark, so I'm getting to see the Rockies up really close for the first time. And the Reds are one of those refreshing other scuffling organizations that never seems to have positions open for their best prospects, a sense of when to sell high on assets, or pitching.
It was only due to controversial Reds newcomer Josh Hamilton that the Rockies didn't go ahead and sweep that series at the Great American Ballpark. The Rule 5 pick hit over .500 for the series with two homers in Cincinnati's win on Sunday. I haven't personally spoken to anyone who is bothered by the fact that Hamilton spent the last few years out of baseball struggling with drug and alcohol addiction, but I have read many columnists reacting to his story as if there are some who feel this callow youth has gotten way too many second chances. SI's Tom Verducci wrote something in a mailbag that I thought was rather unusually, well, correct for a veteran baseball writer: "The bottom line is that Josh Hamilton has a skill set that is rare in the world, just like a painter, a singer, an actor, etc. Only a small percentage of people can actually do what he does at the world class level. So of course such people are going to be afforded more chances than people who are more easily replaced." The same principles, of course, apply to Roger Clemens' ridiculous new part-time gig with the Yankees, where he'll apparently get $5 million every time he shows up at the stadium, not that he has to do that more than once or twice a week. Baseball is the American pastime; capitalism is the American ideology; ergo capitalism is baseball's driving force as well. Vendors with scarce, desirable resources will always be able to find enthusiastic buyers for the wares. So if you don't like Hamilton getting to party for four years on the Devil Rays' money and then waltzing right back into the game with the Reds as if nothing happened, or you don't like Clemens treating the Yankees like history's most imperious call girl, you obviously hate America. Commie.
From the Cardinals' HD feed, I can clearly see that Troy Tulowitzki was robbed of a homer in the game yesterday. That kind of begs an interesting question. Now that high-def is in so many homes, is MLB going to be compelled to go to limited instant replay in regular-season games? The Rockies' broadcasters were speculating about it this evening but they didn't touch on the high-def factor. It is vastly easier to tell whether a long fly hit a wall rather than a railing, or a tag swiped the back of a jersey instead of thin air, in 1080i. When the playoffs come around, will many more fans seeing the whole picture cause greater uproar when and if a big call is missed? Food for thought. For my part, I wouldn't like to see instant replay in any form that makes the games very much longer. Baseball has made a concerted effort to quicken the pace in the last couple of years and if anything I think they could do a little more, although I admire the difference they have already made. (Still, one of these years I wish an umpire would have the guts to just start calling delay-of-game balls on Steve Trachsel types.) But here's what the Rockies' TV guys said, and for once I think they have a good point. It takes just as long for an MLB manager to come out and throw a hissy fit than it does for an NFL ref to just go put his head in the little replay peepshow box. So in circumstances like the Tulowitzki homer, replay would actually speed things along. (And make sure the correct call is made, which is at least a little important too.) But I suggest if baseball does go to replay, they introduce a tradition of managers going ahead with tirades during the review period, just to keep things interesting. The crew chief would watch the tirade and determine how amusing it was, then he would relay to the umpire checking the video whether to elongate or truncate his viewing time to reward or punish the manager for his rant quality. I think that would bring in viewers.
Also: There are zero Rockies players on SI and Baseball Prospectus's list of the 50 most valuable players in the game. I respect BP's work but I think the methodology behind this particular piece goes way too far with their confidence in their projection system. There are maybe ten guys on this list who have accomplished nothing at the major-league level. Ryan Zimmerman #11 and Garrett Atkins nowhere? Room for Alex Gordon and Howie Kendrick but none for Matt Holliday? I assume the reason that Colorado doesn't have anybody even in honorable mention is that the project somehow punishes guys for being near free agency, but not quite there yet. But of course if you look at the list of dropouts, you can see that the Rockies didn't have anybody on the list last year, either. Is it really possible that in a 30-team league Colorado doesn't have a single one of the best 74 players? That's the total of this year's list, last year's dropouts, and this year's honorable mentions. Well, they're bad. But are they that bad? Way to kick a franchise when it's down, guys.