Tuesday Rockpile: The Death of Rocktober

We will always have Rocktober, whether it remains at Coors Field or not. Photo by Steve Dykes, Getty Images.

Rocktober is the gift that keeps on giving. When the Colorado Rockies won 21 of 22 games in 2007 to complete a miraculous National League Pennant, the inexplicable nature of the time led to magical conclusions. A team that so many didn't believe had the talent to do the impressive...did the impossible. Rocktober wasn't just a streak. It was an identity, a common feeling between fans, players and even opponents. It embodied so much of what the organization and its fans wanted to be, the Rockies even pursued trademarking "Rocktober."

That identity still echoed for years. The Rockies have an annual September surge, we were told. Online publications from Fangraphs to Bleacher Report scream in early September nearly every year: "Don't Count Out the Rockies." The optimism borne from Rocktober 2007 is in our fanhood DNA, and more than any other fans in baseball, optimism for a late run resides in Colorado.

As Jason Hammel said twelve months ago:

"It's Denver, it's Colorado, it's the Rockies in September. It's ridiculous."

And now, it is officially dead. The magic is gone.

Tampa Bay and St. Louis have completed impossible comebacks of their own this season, helped by two historic collapses from the Red Sox and Braves. There exists something called "Raytober"...and perhaps "Snaketober." Moreover, this second half September magical swagger the Rockies had? Totally kaput. The defibrillator used in 2010 failed, and likely a year after Rocktober officially died, we can pronounce it dead. The rest of the league has moved on. Now it is our turn. Deathofrocktober_medium

Since that magical 2007, the Rockies are 51-53 in September. They are just 20-36 over their final 14 games from 2008-2011, including 4-24 the last two years. Even calling Colorado a "second half team" has lost accuracy. Over the past four seasons, Colorado is 144-141 (.505) in the second half - better, but not appreciably so, than their overall record (322-326, .497). Fizzle.

Colorado's 2007 team will always remain a story to tell our grandchildren, but we are long removed from that time. Kids who were in middle school in the beginning of the 2007 season are now in college. No pitchers from that roster remain in the organization. Todd Helton, a 2007 rookie Troy Tulowitzki and lightly used Chris Iannetta and Seth Smith are the only bats that will most likely be back in 2012. What once seemed like a regular occurrence now appears to be the ephemeral one year wonder our brains told us it was all along.

The irrational optimism we harbor will never die, even if Rocktober is gone. Once we taste that sweet manifestation of hope, our hearts will beat out that dream vociferously each autumn. There is no shame in that. Unfortunately, belief does not beget existence. With the spectacular late season collapses in Denver, expecting late season heroics is based on blind hope on the same plane as fans of the Pirates, Indians or Nationals. The Rockies must search for a new identity, because as was often penned in 2007, these are no longer your older brother's Rockies.

Off-topic

The Catching Situation

Rockies' catching dilemma a major offseason puzzle - The Denver Post In the third of a five part series by the Denver Post, Jim Armstrong tries his best to paint a picture of Chris Iannetta as a failed project:

"Is Iannetta the solution behind the plate?  More and more, the answer appears to be no for the long term...With Iannetta, the Rockies have reached a "he is what he is" mode. That became clear when he moved to the eight hole in the lineup this past season....

The problem with Armstrong's argument is the support he seeks to compliment his point in the article is non-existent. Dan O'Dowd is quoted clearly saying Iannetta is the starter in 2011, with Wilin Rosario either as a backup or in AAA. Doesn't sound much like a "major offseason puzzle" or a "dilemma" to me.

Armstrong expresses disappointment in Iannetta, though the article is joined with a graphic that shows the Rockies' catchers were above average in every category. Where in the lineup the manager played said player is irrelevant. Quipped O'Dowd: "That (the catching position) is not our problem."

Then, there's the recycled "he don't have Torrealba fire" argument, just under the stock photo of an irate Iannetta, who appears ready to castrate umpire Corey Blaser. It is almost as if the Denver Post editors are trying to muffle Armstrong's off-kilter claims.

Eventually, Colorado is very likely to make Rosario their full-time catcher. He has All-Star upside, while Iannetta has passed that potential by. The only scenario to dictate otherwise is if Rosario was dealt in a package for an elite bat/arm. But what set up as an interesting decision this offseason has actually fizzled. O'Dowd has been adament that Iannetta will be the starting catcher.

 

Links

Dick Monfort fields readers' questions for Denver Post "Fan Mail" | On the Rox — Colorado Rockies news — Denver Post The Rockies owner has clearly made a concerted effort to be more open with the fans this season, a welcome sign given the organization's downturn. There was that conference call two months ago yesterday as well. Make sure you submit your questions.

Projections Update: Rangers Reclaim Lead - Beyond the Box Score A very cool series is running at Beyond the Boxscore, with a linear graph of World Series odds for all eight teams being updated by day.

Baseball America -  Field Of Dreams: Not long after he suffered a broken neck, righthander Juan Nicasio had a dream (subscription required) 

Tulowitzki tabbed as Aaron nominee for big year | ColoradoRockies.com: News No surprise here.

Baseball Prospectus | On the Beat: The Next Managers "Jim Tracy has to go." "Oh yeah, who would be better that is available?" If you've found yourself in this argument, here is a list of ten potential managers still available, as compiled by Baseball Prospectus' John Perotto.

Grand Junction going pro? - The Denver Post There has been buzz around Grand Junction stealing the Ghosts for years, and it only picked up when the Monforts bought the Ghosts. Casper's mayor and city planner apparently aren't having their calls to the Rockies returned. I'd say the momentum for a shift to Grand Junction is silently deafening.

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