I am writing this edition between games of the doubleheader with the Atlanta Braves. It has been remarkable what the weather has done to this homestand. The grounds crew at Coors Field—and the many volunteer shovelers from the front office—have gone above and beyond the call of duty in making the field playable last Tuesday and again this morning. Last week, with 8 inches of snow on the ground, it was estimated that 250 tons of snow were removed. Keep in mind that no heavy vehicles could be used, and that, eventually, all of the snow had to shoveled by hand to remove it from the playing surface. It was a herculean effort that was handled as efficiently as it could be accomplished.
Hard to believe that you could play baseball in below freezing temperatures, but such has been the task of the Rockies over the past week. A team record-tying 28 degrees last Tuesday versus the New York Mets, and now a new mark is set with a bone-chilling 23 degrees at first pitch this afternoon. Normally, pitchers have the advantage in such situations, but the Braves hit three long balls for the difference in the game. This contest was somewhat of a rarity this season in that the Rockies couldn’t come up with enough clutch hits. We may have to give credit to that outstanding Atlanta pitching staff for making that happen. The Braves have a lot of holes, but their pitching and home run pop cover most of them. Let’s hope the Rox can bounce back in the nightcap.
Even with the loss in the first game, there still were smiles in the Rockies clubhouse thanks to a good MRI result on Jhoulys Chacin. The tests confirmed that his issue is a lower back strain and not an oblique tear. Without any setbacks, Jhoulys should be able to pitch when he is eligible to come off the 15-day disabled list on May 5th. Also, on the medical front, we’ll see if Todd Helton is able to play on Wednesday. If not, he might have to go on the DL with a left forearm strain.
My CHECK IT OUT is an easy one today. Took my wife, Lisa, to see “42” and it was excellent. Too often, in sports movies the game action is not up to par, but that is not the case in this film. My only quibble in that regard was the Phillies manager making his racist rants while standing on the field during game action. That just wouldn’t take place. Congratulations to Harrison Ford as well...he did a fine job in capturing Branch Rickey. Make sure you put this movie on your must-see list.
It is safe to assume that the Rockies won’t go undefeated at home this season—81 straight might be too much to ask for—but the ballclub is certainly taking to heart what their manager sought from his team. Walt Weiss stressed throughout spring training that he wanted the Rockies to dominate at home, and that they have done, winning the first 6 straight at Coors Field. Some have been pure domination and others great comebacks like Game 2 of the doubleheader on that snowy Tuesday evening. As Troy Tulowitzki points out, there will be some down times this season, but this offense certainly is legitimate...maybe as good as any in the National League.
The difference so far has been the excellent starting pitching. If the starters can stay healthy, their job is to keep the team in the game until the offense can do its thing. So far, so good in that regard. Jon Garland has been an excellent pickup, going at least 6 innings in all three starts—all Colorado victories—and his groundball philosophy is rubbing off on the others in the rotation. The challenge grows in the next six days with the Diamondbacks and the Braves coming to Denver, but again, every Rockies fan has to be thrilled with what has happened through the first 15 games.
Two items for CHECK IT OUT...Because of the snow-out on Monday, I finally had the chance to see Zero Dark Thirty. Very enjoyable, and Jessica Chastain was outstanding in the lead role. My only disappointment was that I would have liked a little more on Seal Team Six and their involvement. Still, a fine film! On the music side, I was reminded of the excellent work of a tragic figure on the blues side of the industry when I watched the movie, Cadillac Records. While much of the focus, as it should be, was on Muddy Waters, there was the chance to appreciate Little Walter, too. His “My Babe” is a definite CHECK IT OUT.
Anyone that has followed baseball through the years knows that all things must be kept in perspective. Good start or poor, the length of a baseball season means you can’t get too high or too low regarding the play of your team. That is certainly the case with the Rockies, although the 5-1 beginning must be looked at a little differently than normal.
The 2012 Rockies were beset by injuries, inexperience, and bad luck on their way to the worst record in the team’s first 20 years. What is surprising, however, is the belief by most of the media—and many of the team’s fans—that last year’s results are reflective of this team from a talent perspective, especially in terms of pitching. Again, one week does not make a season that is 26 weeks long, but the quality starts by this year’s rotation is actually more reflective of their talent than what took place last year.
Jhoulys Chacin was on his way to an All-Star selection in 2011 when the impingement issue in his chest and shoulder began at mid-year and carried through most of last season. The 25-year old has the best Rockies ERA for a pitcher with at least 100 innings pitched (Jhoulys has more than 400 IP) in the team’s history, a very respectable 3.63. Shouldn’t that be a better barometer of his potential rather than the 2012 sampling? Likewise with Jorge De La Rosa who was considered one of the better LHP in the National League before his Tommy John injury. Juan Nicasio was dominant in the minors, while Jeff Francis and Jon Garland provide a veteran presence that the rotation lacked last year. The Rockies starters don’t match up to the Giants and the Dodgers, but if good health holds, this rotation will be vastly improved.
Decent starting pitching, coupled with the strength of the bullpen, looks even better when the team’s offense is added to the mix. There will be challenges for sure—on the road, especially in San Francisco and Los Angeles—but that will be handled better if the veterans stay healthy and the younger hitters keep maturing. It has only taken a week, but enthusiasm has been reborn, not only in the clubhouse, but among the Rockies fans as well. It will be fun to watch how they respond to the Giants this week in San Francisco.
My wife is happy because Mad Men has returned, and I feel the same way about season 3 of Game of Thrones. That’s my CHECK IT OUT this time, although you might want to watch some of the earlier seasons to be able to keep up with the storyline.