Baseball Toaster Bad Altitude
I Still Don't Know What to Think
2007-07-30 16:02
by Mark T.R. Donohue

Baseball history is full of incidents when a timely rain delay helped change the course of a pennant race. It's not likely that a rare late-July Coors Field postponement will forever live in the annals of the game, but at this moment, it looks like Colorado got a spot of luck. Rather than splitting a series with the Dodgers, they won their eighth straight home series, which is a franchise record (and counting). The Rockies have broken several team marks this year, but I usually allow such landmarks to pass without mention, because I know the history of the club's first decade pretty well by now and with the exception of the first half of 1995, none of the those teams were worth remembering by anyone besides the low-level staffer who's in charge of filling in all of the columns of the "ROCKIES TEAM RECORDS" section in the yearly media guide.

So, a primer, for those of you who haven't spent days of their lives examining Kirt Manwaring's career numbers: sometimes (rather more often than you suspect) the Rockies are a very solid home team and get creamed on the road. Take, let's say, 1997: 47-34 at Coors, 36-45 elsewhere. In 2000, the last season they were over .500: 48-33 at home, 34-47 on the road. In 2006, which some of you may remember as last season, 44-37 against 32-49.

As of right now, the Rockies are 30-21 at home (which projects to 48-33 assuming they are relevant enough to need to make up every lost game) and 23-30 (35-46) on the road. Which leads me to conclude: Nothing has changed. Humidor or not, the team still leaves its confidence behind whenever it ventures outside of the Mountain Time Zone. Hey, I can relate, I feel the same way sometimes, but if I were a ball club I assure you I would have won more than one playoff game in my lifetime. Sometimes you just have to buck up and go with your fears (just like in Batman Begins, which is what I watched for the first time during the rainout Friday night).

Despite the fact that the humidor has had the intended effect of making offensive and pitching statistics from games at Coors slightly more adherent to realities elsewhere (and really, as I've argued many times before, trends in ballpark construction have made Coors-like conditions rather more the rule than the exception, see Houston, Cincinnati, Arizona, Philadelphia, and so on) the Rockies still have a crisis of confidence when it comes to taking care of business on road trips. It seems to me like the obvious solution to this problem is a manager with more authority to lead than Clint "405-487" Hurdle, but look what happened the last time the Rockies hired a manager with genuine gravitas -- Jim Leyland lasted one miserable year. Just long enough to earn our eternal hatred but not quite long enough to impress upon the players that whether or not Coors Field has mystical powers, it's the players' responsibility to go win series in Phoenix and San Diego and Washington too.

So what else can I say other than what I've been repeating all year? Until the Rockies can put together a team capable of going .500 on the road, they're not legit. After the day off today, Colorado will confront clubs in Atlanta and Florida that are not any qualititatively better than their own. Maybe now is their time, but the tremendous weight of past history leaves me skeptical.

2007-07-30 20:28:11
1.   joejoejoe
In South American soccer the high altitude teams have a history of not travelling well. That's not the only factor as Ecuador, Bolivia, and Columbia are not in the class of Argentina and Brazil as soccer powers but it's definitely a consideration.

One way the soccer teams get around it is to play many friendly matches away to build comfort with the team playing in a different environment. Maybe the Rockies should switch their spring training from Tucson, AZ (alt. 2600ft.) to Florida (sea level).

2007-07-30 23:31:18
2.   ralfthewiseandpowerful
At this stage in the game, we're learning that more than being a Rockies fan, Mark is a fan of being part of the "bad-news-bears" mentality. What he means by "I Still Don't Know What to Think" is that there is not enough empirical evidence to as of yet declare the Rockies a bust or declare them as legit contenders in any race, division or wild-card.

So that means that he can't go through his usual routine this time of year of blasting everyone from the ownership group to the players on the field. But because he desperately wants to be the voice of "I told you so" when they don't make the playoffs, he is careful to avoid any optimistic statements; but because he is a Rockies fan, he is careful not to be the voice of doom.

Mark would you rather the Rockies make the post-season or type out a blog entry if Willy Taveras makes the final out on the last day of the season?

2007-07-31 06:32:22
3.   Mark T.R. Donohue
2 The latter, since there's no way the Rockies get out of the first round with their starting rotation. Which is ownership's fault.

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