Dave Krieger has been a guest-host on 850 KOA since 2005. Now, Dave is heard every weekday afternoon on The Dave Logan Show.
"I've had a blast as a guest host on 850 KOA over the past several years and I'm grateful for the opportunity to join their team on a full-time basis," Krieger said. "I look forward to partnering with Dave Logan, a friend for more than 25 years, in the competitive landscape of PM drive. As I've recently discovered, thanks to the web, 850 KOA's reach now includes the entire country."
Since 2009, Dave was a popular columnist with The Denver Post. Before that, he spent 27 years with the now-defunct Rocky Mountain News as a cityside reporter, Broncos and Nuggets beat writer and longtime sports columnist. He won various state and national awards during a newspaper career that spanned 36 years.
Dave was named the 2011 Colorado sportswriter of the year by the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association. He also won the award in 2010 and 2009 and shared it in 2008 with former Rocky Mountain News colleague Tracy Ringolsby.
John Branch once covered the Colorado Avalanche for the Colorado Springs Gazette, so the shots he took last week at the club's foray into the past were not ill-informed, even if he now works for The New York Times.
Branch looked at the spate of hirings of former star players by Denver pro sports franchises -- John Elway with the Broncos, Walt Weiss and Dante Bichette with the Rockies, Joe Sakic and Patrick Roy with the Avs -- and concluded Colorado is now mired in nostalgia, an instinct that is seldom rewarded in pro sports.
He wrote in part:
It would be like trying to channel the overlapping heydays of the Mets, the Jets and the Knicks by hiring Tom Seaver, Joe Namath and Phil Jackson. (A few years ago, the Rangers hired Mark Messier, the captain of the 1994 Stanley Cup team, as a “special assistant to the president,” hoping his mojo would be contagious. So far, it has not.)
Picture the Bay Area in 2030 if its teams hired Buster Posey, Joe Thornton and Stephen Curry.
That would be preposterous. But not in Colorado, the sports recycling capital of the nation. Around Denver, old athletes do not fade away; they return to remind everyone what probably will not happen again.
Memo to my old friend John: This might not be just a Denver thing. The Kansas City Royals announced just today that George Brett is joining the club as hitting coach.
It is true, of course, that the roster of legendary players who have tried unsuccessfully to recapture the magic of their playing days as coaches or front office executives is long and familiar:
Bart Starr was a two-time Super Bowl winner as the Packers' quarterback, but went 52-76-3 as the team's coach.
Magic Johnson was one of the best basketball players in history, leading the Lakers to five NBA championships, but he lasted only 16 games as their coach before throwing up his hands in frustration.
Ted Williams was one of the best hitters in baseball history, but over four seasons as manager of the Washington Senators/Texas Rangers, he went 273-364.
Isiah Thomas was the heart of the Bad Boys' back-to-back NBA championships in Detroit, but he was 55-108 in two seasons as head coach of the Knicks.
And, of course, there was Wayne Gretzky, the Great One, the best hockey player ever, who was decidedly not the best hockey coach ever. He went 141-161-24 in four seasons as a coach in Phoenix.
Attempts by great players to bring back their glory days from offices in the executive suite have generally not gone much better. Thomas, Michael Jordan, Kevin McHale, Bobby Clarke and Elgin Baylor are among those who have taken swings from the front office with limited success.
Elway has so far proved an exception to this latter pattern, and it was arguably his success that got Denver's other franchises on their current nostalgic roll.
Elway took over the Broncos' front office a little more than two years ago. In 29 months, he has remade the roster, attracting top free agents such as Peyton Manning and Wes Welker and giving the Broncos their best chance to contend for a Super Bowl since he retired as a player in 1999.
Following the Broncos' 13-3 campaign last season, the Rockies dipped into their own brief history, hiring Weiss, their former shortstop, as manager, and Bichette, one of the original Blake Street Bombers, as their hitting coach. Now it's the Avs' turn, naming Sakic to run the front office and Roy to coach the team -- Hall of Famers who owned the town during the Avs' glory days, which included Stanley Cup championships in 1996 and 2001.
Only the NBA's Nuggets have so far escaped F. Scott Fitzgerald's assessment at the end of "The Great Gatsby" that "we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past."
Branch finished his essay in the Times by suggesting they're next. With Chauncey Billups' playing career winding down, how long can it be before the best basketball player to come out of Colorado assumes a navigational role with his hometown team?
So I asked Roy about this charge that he's the latest resort in a trip down memory lane.
"I read that article," he said.
"It's very simple. I don't think I'm here because I'm an ex-Avalanche. Just think about it: Those years in Quebec (as coach and general manager of the Quebec Remparts, a junior hockey franchise), if I was just Patrick Roy the player, I wouldn't have lasted eight years.
"At first, yes, the player's going to look at you and he's going to say, 'Wow, it's our coach.' But that doesn't last very long. Eventually, you have to show them that, 'Hey, he's got the solution, he's got ideas, he's getting us going.' At the end, they're not going to see me as former Avalanche goaltender Patrick Roy. They're going to see me as their coach.
"Yes, the past is part of the Broncos, the Avalanche, could be the Nuggets and all the team sports here in Denver. But I'm not looking at the past. I'm not going to go in the dressing room and say to the players, 'Oh, yeah, in my time, we were doing this and that. It was like this.'
"No. I'm going to go say, 'Hey, guys, this is what I think we should do to become a better team. It's your time, it's your opportunity to be difference-makers in this town and have fun coming to the rink.' The excitement's going to be back; no doubt about it. And you know what? I want to bring that passion. That's probably my biggest challenge."
As Branch pointed out, earlier forays into the past have not worked out that well for Colorado sports teams, whether it was Dan Issel as coach and general manager of the Nuggets or Bill McCartney protege Jon Embree as coach of the University of Colorado football team.
But Branch's brush is a bit broad. Weiss and Bichette were good baseball players, but they are not Hall-of-Famers, so they don't face the same daunting history as Elway, Sakic and Roy. Lots of former players have played the roles they're playing now for the Rockies, many of them successfully.
Among the Hall-of-Famers, Elway is off to an auspicious start with the Broncos, and Sakic and Roy have a few things going for them as they take over operations for the Avs. For one thing, the team has nowhere to go but up. It has missed the playoffs four out of the past five seasons and competed with Florida last season for title of worst team in the NHL.
For another, the NHL draft on June 30 will provide the Avs with their third top-three draft pick in five years.
As Roy pointed out, he is not trying his hand at coaching for the first time, as Gretzky was when he took over the Coyotes. Roy cut his teeth at the junior level for eight years. He knows the job, he likes it, and he was good at it working with players from 16 to 20 years old. Now he'll have to see how he does with grown-ups.
Is his hiring in part an attempt to take advantage of his popularity and name recognition? Certainly. The Avs need the buzz, and nobody creates buzz around hockey in Colorado like Patrick Roy. But it's hardly out of left field. In fact, of all the nostalgic hires in Denver over the past three years, Roy has paid the most dues to earn his opportunity.
History makes it easy to be cynical about the move, and it's certainly possible that it won't succeed. But the fact remains that Roy and Sakic can't do any worse than the men they're replacing. If the question is why, the answer is, why not?
There are baseball games that appear to tell a larger story than a 1/162nd slice of a languorous season, and last Thursday's looked like one of those for the Rockies.
They were facing a Giants team that swept them early in the season and had beaten them nine straight times dating to last year. Seven of their next 10 were going to be against San Francisco, sort of a lie detector test for a Rockies team that had roared out of the gate. If the Giants did what they did last year, winning 14 of 18, or the year before that, winning 13 of 18, the Rocks' early-season pretensions to contention would do what they did in 2011 -- crash and burn in May.
So they rocked Matt Cain for three home runs in the first three innings, including back-to-back jacks from the past and the future -- 39-year-old first baseman Todd Helton and 22-year-old third baseman Nolan Arenado -- handing Opening Day starter Jhoulys Chacin a 6-0 lead.
Chacin promptly gave it all back, surrendering five runs in the fourth and leaving in the sixth with the score tied and the eventual winning runs on base. Following its early explosion, the Rockies' offense shut down, collecting one hit after the third inning against Cain, Jeremy Affeldt and Sergio Romo.
It was the most discouraging loss of the year. Not only had the Rocks seemed to prove they couldn't beat the Giants on a bet, they had confirmed the worst suspicions about their character as a team -- frontrunners who fold when the going gets sticky. After winning 13 of their first 17 games and spending 16 days in first place, the 8-6 defeat dropped them to 21-20 and third place.
So how did they respond to this soul-sapping loss? They swept the next three from the Giants, battering Madison Bumgarner, Tim Lincecum and Barry Zito for 20 runs and getting a six-inning shutout of their own from Juan Nicasio, who, prior to that start, had been flirting with re-education camp.
"I think our team showed who they were early on," said first-year manager Walt Weiss. "Had some opportunities to overcome some things and they did that. That's why I don't get too down when we struggle, because I know that that's part of the deal up here. You're going to get beat up a little bit in this league, but I have confidence that our guys will do what they did in the last three days. When it looks like they start to slide, they turn it around. They've done it a handful of times already this year. That's a great trait to have."
Many fans still base their expectations on the larger sample size of the past two seasons, but the Rocks' weekend bounce-back against their nemesis over that span was the best sign so far that things actually might be different this year.
"I really think this bunch is extremely competitive and we're sick of losing," said reliever Matt Belisle, part of the four-man shutout in Sunday's 5-0 series finale. "And these Giants have beat up on us quite a bit and we want to turn the tables."
With the additions of Arenado and catcher Wilin Rosario to the core of Troy Tulowitzki, Carlos Gonzalez, Dexter Fowler, Michael Cuddyer and Helton, the middle of the Rocks' order has grown truly prodigious. They lead the National League in runs (221 in 44 games, an average of five per game), home runs (58), batting average (.272) and slugging percentage (.445).
Individually, Tulowitzki leads the league in runs batted in (37) and ranks third in batting average (.336). Gonzalez is tied for fourth in home runs (10) and is fifteenth in batting (.308). Rosario has nine homers, Fowler and Tulo have eight apiece and the disabled Cuddyer has seven.
So, yeah, they can rake. But the big story so far is on the mound, where the Rocks have cut more than a run off their worst-in-baseball staff earned-run average of a year ago. After posting a 5.22 staff ERA and earning laughingstock honors with rotation and pitch count experiments in 2012, the Rocks rank in the middle of the pack so far this year with a staff ERA of 3.85. That includes a 3.04 mark out of the bullpen, fifth-best in the NL.
Any team that plays half its games at Coors Field is going to be challenged to be competitive nationally in pitching statistics, and the Rocks have never finished a season with a staff ERA lower than 4.00 in their 20-year history. Still, injuries were a big part of the story last year. Chacin, Nicasio and Jorge De La Rosa were all out most of last season, and their return has made a huge difference, as has replacing Jeremy Guthrie with Jon Garland as the veteran free agent. A team that had 27 quality starts all last year has 18 less than two months into the season.
It also presents them with exactly the opposite of last year's problem. They have too many starters. Tyler Chatwood, called up for a third spot start when Jeff Francis suffered a pulled groin, deserves to be in the rotation. Not only is he 2-0 with a 2.55 ERA, he's done damage with the bat (he's a former shortstop) and demonstrated a competitive grittiness that shows up well among the Rockies' many nice guys.
But whose spot does he take? A week ago you might have said either Francis or Nicasio, who were struggling. But Francis gave up one run in six innings in his last start before going on the DL and Nicasio gave up none in six Sunday against the Giants.
Of the five starters, only De La Rosa has an ERA below 4.00, so the rotation is not exactly impenetrable. And Drew Pomeranz, the prize of the Ubaldo Jimenez trade, will be knocking on the door soon enough. He's 6-0 with a 3.22 ERA for Triple-A Colorado Springs.
Nicasio remains the most enigmatic of the existing starters. There are those who think he's better suited to the bullpen considering he's basically a one-pitch pitcher. But when Nicasio's fastball is electric and down, he doesn't need much variety. Lately, he had been building up vast pitch counts early in games trying to be too fine. So Weiss paired him Sunday with veteran catcher Yorvit Torrealba.
"I just say, 'Whatever I put down, you throw it,'" Torrealba explained when asked about his pre-game instructions for Nicasio.
"I mean, I don't try to take any credit or anything, but I told him I just want him to go out there and have fun. I don't want him to think at all. Just go ahead and throw it and execute down. And then, whatever happens, happens. If you get killed, blame it on me, I don't care. I just want him to throw strikes and see what happens. And he did."
Considering what they went through last year, deploying starters who clearly weren't ready because everybody else was hurt, it's a nice problem to have.
Things can change in a heartbeat, of course. The Rocks conclude the current homestand with three against the Diamondbacks, who are now in first place, leading both the Rocks and Giants by a game, and then travel to San Francisco for three more with the Giants. Those first couple of days at sea level after a homestand are still a challenge for them. The last time they hit the road, the Cardinals threw consecutive complete-game shutouts at them.
Still, the weekend demonstrated something about this year's Rocks that wasn't all that clear before: They can take a punch.
An oft-quoted truism of baseball says good pitching beats good hitting, although the practical reality may be closer to the remark attributed to Bob Veale, the 6-foot-6-inch left-hander who pitched for the Pirates and Red Sox in the 1960s and '70s:
"Good pitching will beat good hitting anytime, and vice versa."
In other words, as Roseanne Roseannadanna would say, it's always something. If it ain't one thing, it's another.
The Rockies went into their weekend series in St. Louis leading the National League in batting and runs, but there were signs of trouble. They had lost three of their previous four games, scoring a total of eight runs.
After the first two games against the Cardinals -- a one-hit, complete-game shutout by Shelby Miller and a two-hit, complete-game shutout by Adam Wainwright -- they have lost four in a row, scoring a total of three runs in 36 innings. The last time they scored was the first inning of their final game against the Yankees, meaning they take a 26-inning scoreless streak into Sunday's series finale in St. Louis.
"Wainwright commanded everything," Rockies manager Walt Weiss said of Saturday's second consecutive 3-0 defeat. "I think it was a combination of things -- us going a little cold and at the same time running into a couple pitchers that aren't missing."
Everybody likes to beat up on Rockies pitching, but it has surrendered just three runs in each of the last four games -- and the club is 0-4 over that span. Troy Tulowitzki, their leading hitter, missed two of the four with tightness in his groin. Michael Cuddyer, their second-leading hitter, missed the last three with a bulging disc in his neck that sent him to the disabled list Saturday.
Between Eric Young's first-inning single off Miller on Friday night and Todd Helton's fifth-inning base on balls from Wainwright on Saturday afternoon, 40 consecutive Rockies batters were retired, tying a major league record.
Between Young's hit and Nolan Arenado's eighth-inning single Saturday, which broke up Wainwright's no-hit bid, the Rocks went 0-for-49 at the plate. Fifty consecutive batters, counting Helton's walk, went hitless.
Dexter Fowler is 1-for-21 over the past six games -- he broke an 0-for-20 skein in his final at-bat against Wainwright -- his batting average falling from .310 to .264.
Carlos Gonzalez is 0-for-15 since homering against the Yankees on Tuesday, accounting for both runs in a 2-0 victory, the last time the Rocks won. His average has slipped from .322 to .288.
In the space of ten days, the Rocks have gone from first place with a record of 17-11 to third place at 19-17. The first of the bandwagon fans are already looking for landing spots. After all, we've seen this before, right?
In 2011, the Rocks were in first place from April 6 through May 10. By the end of May, they were below .500 and in third. After going 17-8 in April, they went 8-21 in May to give it all back. They ended up 73-89.
This year, they went 16-11 in April. In May so far, they are 3-6.
They are off to an excellent start on the mound, where they had the best bullpen earned-run average in the National League before Josh Outman gave up a single run to the Cards on Saturday. A team that had 27 quality starts all last year has 15 already.
They were off to an excellent start offensively before this last week, when they faced good Yankees pitching and great Cardinals pitching.
"Both guys we've faced these first two games have pitched on the edges of the strike zone with all their stuff, which makes it very difficult," Weiss said.
So now comes the test. Are the Rocks tougher than they've been the last couple of years? Will they shrink from adversity and fold up their tent or will they fight back?
"These guys do their work every day," Weiss said. "They prepare for the game. Everyone gets beat up a little bit in this game at some point. But our guys will keep grinding and will come out and try to turn it around tomorrow."
They get another good Cardinals starter, Jaime Garcia (2.25 ERA), on Sunday. Then they move on to Wrigley Field, where the Cubs are struggling but will deploy three starters who are pitching pretty well -- Travis Wood (2.33), Carlos Villanueva (3.02) and Jeff Samardzija (3.70).
Baseball may seem understandable merely by swimming through its ocean of numbers, but at times like these numbers are not that helpful. The numbers say the Rocks are pretty good. They have hit well and they have pitched well in the season's early going. But it is not yet enough of a sample size to tell you much.
Now they face some adversity. Cuddyer, one of their best hitters in the early going, is on the shelf.
"You feel like you're leaving your teammates, but it is what it is," said Cuddyer, who has had issues with his neck twice before during his career. "Injuries happen and you can't do anything about it. You just try and get healthy and get back on the field."
Helton, their other veteran leader, is no longer capable of leading the team offensively. So the weight falls on the younger stars -- Tulowitzki, Gonzalez and Fowler.
Can they carry it? Is this the fragile team of the past couple of seasons or has it grown up enough to bring a little fight to the party?
We'll know soon enough.