When does a potentially tough situation turn out to be no problem? It’s that way when you with deal a class act like Jeff Francis. It was obvious after a shaky outing on Tuesday against the Blue Jays in Toronto that Jeff was going to be the odd man out in the starting rotation to make room for Roy Oswalt. Jeff Francis has played an important role in the history of the Rockies franchise, and it would have been a shame to see it come to an end with a performance like that.
Jeff Francis is a pro’s pro, and yet ironically like his replacement in the rotation, he didn’t think his days in the big leagues were ready to end. He could have walked away and no one would have thought less of him. Instead, we end up being even more impressed about who Jeff Francis is by his decision to return to AAA with Colorado Springs and try to reclaim on a more consistent basis the elements of success he has shown in bursts this season. Manager Walt Weiss firmly believes Jeff Francis has something left to help his ballclub. In character alone, those of us who know Jeff are in total agreement with Walt. Good luck, Jeff...we hope still to see you do something great things in a Rockies uniform.
Any fan of The Sopranos series was stunned to learn of the too-soon death of actor James Gandolfini. His ability to bring out the nuances in the wonderfully written character, Tony Soprano, was the biggest reason for the show’s sustained success. If you haven’t done so—or if it’s been awhile since you have seen the show—our CHECK IT OUT this time is any episode of The Sopranos. You won’t be disappointed.
If I’ve learned anything in my 28 years in baseball, it’s that you cannot predict anything. Not for individual games, sometimes not for an entire season. The same Rockies team that takes 3 of 4 from the Giants, loses three of four against Houston. They win both series played so far against the Dodgers but lose a series in Chicago to the Cubs.
Those above examples can be interpreted in two ways: 1) the Rockies are true contenders. Or 2) they don’t have enough and they’ll fade as the season progresses. I think the true answer is: 3) nobody, including the Rockies, really knows. Still nearly three weeks away from the midpoint of the season, the only real interpretation is to enjoy what has happened to this point and anticipate what might be in the months ahead.
Here is some perspective to appreciate what has happened already. Coming off their worst season in franchise history, none of the so-called prognosticators predicted the Rockies would even finish at .500. Keith Law of ESPN.com even went so far as to say that the team would win only 53 games, 11 worse than their 2012 total, and have the poorest record in baseball. Again, we have to be cautious because of our appreciation that anything can happen in baseball, but without any significant injuries, this team has an opportunity to contend in the NL West for the rest of the season. Here’s another fact that can make you feel good about what has happened through the first 10 weeks of the season. Yesterday’s win against San Diego was the club’s 34th of the season. Last year, the Rockies did not win their 34th game until July 13th.
My CHECK IT OUT is “Game of Thrones.” I am not normally someone who gets into fantasy, like “Lord of the Rings,” but this HBO series has grabbed my interest. I was still trying to digest what had happened in the penultimate episode of this third season when the finale played out last night. Do you notice that I am not giving anything away here...I don’t want to spoil it for those of you who might have missed it last night. If you haven’t done so yet, you might want CHECK IT OUT with Netflix or DVD sets to catch up. I think you’ll like it.
Every sport has its frustrations for the participants and their fans. In basketball, nothing seems more bothersome, especially in the NBA, than when a team misses free throws. Those “gift” opportunities that are not cashed in have ruined too many chances for a victory. Similarly, in football, the dropped ball by a wide-open receiver — or a defensive back with nothing but green grass in front of him — sends the crowd into a tizzy. Or when a team does everything to put itself into position for a victory only to have a miss a chip-shot field goal.
In baseball, opportunities are most often reflected in those situations with runners in scoring position. It must be kept in mind that the success for most teams with RISP opportunities is below a 30% success rate, but those missed chances eat away at a team and its fans. The past two games for the Rockies have seen such angst caused. The Rockies have been among MLB’s top teams with RISP success, but just 5-36 and only 5 runs scored in the games with the Giants and the Astros have hurt. Perhaps, we have become too expectant of offensive success from this club, and when they don’t come through like the past 2 games, the pain seems greater. This offense should be strong, if it stays healthy. We’ll just have to bear with the periodic downturns. Besides, if the pitching keeps performing like it has in the first two months, then the final four months of the 2013 season should be quite interesting.
A little different CHECK IT OUT today ... more like an opinion poll. My wife is a chocoholic, but I’m into the chewy snacks. There is nothing better at a movie than a box of Dots, but my question today deals with Twizzlers and Red Vines. Someone told me once that the preference is geographical; that Red Vines are more popular to the west and Twizzlers to the east. I did grow up in Ohio, so perhaps that fuels my opinion, but there is no contest ... Twizzlers kick butt. Do you feel the same way? Let me know.