So the season hasn't gone quite according to plan. I feel like I start every other Rockpile with a sentence like that. Ubaldo Jimenez was traded, Ian Stewart hit the skids (and eventually the I-25 bricks). Jorge De La Rosa tore his UCL and underwent Tommy John surgery.
We've been over all of the downfalls of the season and how disheartening they've been. All of the setbacks have a lot of Rockies fans disenfranchised and just preparing for another sport's opening. See, that's just not good enough for me. Let me break down some reasons why:
Reason 1: Baseball is awesome.
This by itself is kind of a mixed blessing. On one hand, baseball is the best. We get to watch it. We'll likely watch it on virtue of the sport itself. Others among it will watch it because sitting in the Rockpile costs $4 and it's a great way to kill time before "Club Whompa Whompa WHAT?! Uhn Tss Uhn Tss WHAT? NO, I DON'T THINK ABOUT DEER!" opens up for the evening. The reason this is an upside or a downside depends on your view of management. If you're on board with the Front Office (as a trend, not saying you have to 100% love every move they make, but more digging the general direction), the continued Colorado fanbase buying Rockies tickets can only help the situation going forward. Flip side, if you think the FO is run by tapdancing chimpanzees with a copy of Baseball Mogul 2007 on their EMachines rig, all of this added revenue will just keep the team comfortably surrounded by Ty Wigginton and Kip Wells caliber players for the foreseeable future.
Reason 2: The Youth
Remember back in 2004 when the Rockies were fielding Royce Clayton, Jeromy Burnitz, Preston Wilson, and the surprisingly well-animated Zombie Vinny Castilla? Yeah, that team was REALLY bad. The upside was that September featured awesome young guys like Garrett Atkins, Matt Holliday, Brad Hawpe, Jeff Francis, JD Closser, Clint Barmes.... you get the idea.
I'm not going to lie to you, the 2011 September crew doesn't look nearly as exciting. Notable callups might include people such as Alex White, Cory Riordan (not counting on it), Drew Pomeranz, Wilin Rosario, Jordan Pacheco, Cole Garner, and
Hector Gomez Casey Weathers Matt Pagnozzi.
I should clarify the above: Alex White is starting on Tuesday. He's a surefire thing, and watching him pitch will hopefully get everyone all misty about the future of Rockies pitching. After Drew Pomeranz' emergency appendectomy (which will sit him out for the remainder of the Drillers' season), I highly doubt we'll be seeing him in the majors in 2011. Stranger things have happened. Worst case with the young guys is that we get to rekindle some of that Spring Training excitement for their futures.
Reason 3: The Rockies Break Late.
Since 2007, the Rockies have amassed a 65-50 record in the month of September. Granted, it's been in the form of an awesome 2007 and 2009 and poor 2008 and 2010. But the Awesome was awesomer than the Poor was poor, hence the .565 record. Add that to the "odd year" streak, and 2011 is guaranteed to be another Rocktober, right?
Ok, I'm not buying that one either. But you'll buy this one:
Reason 4: Troy Tulowitzki Breaks Late.
In the month of September, Troy Tulowitzki has a career 137 wRC+ (37% above the league average bat, park adjusted, etc). In the past 2 seasons, he's posted a 174 wRC+ and a 186 wRC+. He's hit 23 HR in September during those seasons. He's batted around .340 and driven in 59 runners. That's a one man baseball circus right there.
Reason 4a: Carlos Gonzalez Breaks Late.
Similar to Troy Tulowitzki, Carlos Gonzalez enjoyed a monstrous September in 2010. 176 wRC+, .378 batting average, other good things like that. What's mindblowing about Cargo's season is just how bad his April was (55 wRC+) when you consider that A. he's "only" chugging along at a 128 wRC+ and B. he hasn't had a month below 145 wRC+ since that disastrous April. If you check out this graph, we might be seeing another big September from the dynamic duo.
Finally, Reason 5: Todd Helton Is a Hoss.
Remember that awful 2004 team we mentioned earlier? There were exactly 3 reasons to watch that team for the majority of the season: Vinny Castilla, Larry Walker, and Todd Helton. I already made the zombie joke for Castilla, so let's just extend it to cover Larry Walker as well, because it still applies there. Todd Helton, though, was still in his not-old years, and that was the last season he'd OPS over 1.000 - crazy, right? (Fun fact: Helton posted a 1.088 OPS in both 2003 and 2004 - weeeeird.) Anyhow, a season with no hope still drew fans just to watch Todd Helton do things in the fashion of "Good". The Good is regrettably diminished this season, I fear, and Helton isn't exactly posting an OBP of .469 anymore, but let's be real here. He's batting .313/.395/.492, and a near-.400 OBP and a .180 ISO (SLG-AVG) from a 38 year old man with a trick back is downright impressive.
Helton is sitting at 2355 hits for his career. He won't hit 2500 this season, obviously, but 2400? Maybe, maybe not. He hasn't tallied more than 27 hits in a month this season, and we're talking about a mere 40 days in which to get all them hits. But who knows, stranger things have happened (again), and we might get to watch the man destroy an entire months' worth of callups and depth signings.
Here are other fun Helton facts: Helton has hit 3 HR a month in every month except July (2). Helton has batted over .310 in every month except April (.300). Helton has a .960 OPS in August. Rob Neyer wrote a piece about Todd Helton's Hall of Fame candidacy (Hint: He should be).
I'm not gonna lie, it's fun writing things about Todd Helton.
Anyhow fans, here we are. 34 games left in the season, and all I can do is get depressed thinking about the long, cold offseason. I'm standing on this whole "Keep Coming To The Games" soapbox because really, what beats the ballpark? We only get to enjoy it for so long these days, so let's go out there and just be Rockies fans.