Tuesday Rockpile: Purple Has Gone Missing in Denver

We talk about windows frequently in sports: a throwing window, a contention window, a broken window from player's domestic dispute. One window in particular was of great interest to me in the last year, and that indow nearly slammed on my fingers.

Rewind to a year ago, when the pro sports scene in Denver was a mess. The Broncos had fired their coach and limped to the second worst record in the league, and the NFL was facing a lockout. The Nuggets were in the middle of a foul-tasting divorce from their only star of the last two decades, with little suggesting a fair trade would be struck. The NBA actually went into a lockout as well, losing almost two months of the season. The Avalanche fell apart in the season's second half and duplicated the Broncos' feat, finishing ahead of just one team in the league.

Oh, but Rockies country was healthy. Despite a disappointing finish to the 2010 season, there was plenty to be happy about. The club spent more money than any organization in the offseason, locking up Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez, also pulling a bit of a surprise in retaining Jorge de la Rosa. The color purple was descending on Denver. Joe DenverSportsFan was watching the Rockies in April closer than ever before.

Radio talk show hosts that usually filled their Rockies talk with bashing of the Monforts or calling for O'Dowd's head were suddenly proclaiming that the best run organization in town was on 20th and Blake. With three superstars in the fold and three floundering franchise citymates, the window for legitimacy in Denver would never be more wide open for the Rockies than in 2011.

It was scripted perfectly, so perfectly it should have made one gaze upward for an anvil to fall to break the good fortune. It did, and it is difficult to imagine a scenario where the window could have slammed more swiftly. Ubaldo Jimenez got traded, as the Rockies underwent arguably the most disappointing season in their 19-year history (1996, 2001 and 2008 have a claim) in falling to fourth place. While the Rockies were juggling away (insert more accurate, more cruel verb at your leisure) their best opportunity in the Denver limelight, the Broncos/Nuggets/Avalanche have all taken enormous steps forward, pushing the little brother Rockies back into the shadow once again.

We know of the Broncos' conquests, which is a top story nationally. Their "miraculous" run from 2nd worst record to one of the final 8 teams vying for a Super Bowl championship has some comparing it to Rocktober 2007. Incorrect comparisons, mind you, but they are there. Even a 6-10 season would likely have pushed out purple for orange and blue, but this season NFL has lit the city on fire.

Across I-25, The Nuggets pulled off a fantastic trade with the Knicks. Despite losing their last two games, they still own the best point differential in the Western Conference. Their new brand of team basketball is winning back long-lost fans, and hope is at levels unseen in years. Denver talk show host Sandy Clough has already moved on from Troy Tulowitzki and is now proclaiming the superstar of Denver sports for the next decade will be Ty Lawson. These windows are small, I tells ya.

Even the Avalanche are making some noise. One of the hottest teams in recent weeks, Colorado has won 8 of 10 to join the fight for a playoff spot as one of the youngest teams in the league.

The Rockies' contention window is still wide open, as long as Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez are alive and well, but the Rockies' window to paint Denver a little more purple is closed tight. It is a shame. There won't be an opportunity like 2011 for the franchise in quite possibly decades. It will be hard to beat two concurrent lockouts and three miserable teams.

If the Rockies are ever to gain serious traction in Denver, it just won't be in the limelight. They will have to shout louder than their brothers in town and win. Maybe even a World Series. That is certainly possible, as they have a good core of talent in place. Plus, they seem to perform better when no one is watching. Now that Joe DenverSportsFan is looking elsewhere, Rockies, go ahead and start winning again.

Links

BBWAA.com: Official site of the Baseball Writers' Assn. of America. Larry Walker fell just shy of 25% of the Hall of Fame vote (22.9%), which is significant in that he is shy of being one third of the way to HOF induction. That might not seem like an optimistic hike, but his increase from the 2011 voting and company around him in the voting put him on a course of having a realistic shot of reaching the Hall, if not completely likely. A campaign from a Rockies beat writer (rather than a non-vote) would surely help.

Rockies' Nicasio facing hitters, remains on track to compete in spring - The Denver Post It had been a month since we last heard news on Juan Nicasio. In unplanned harmony with his player review yesterday, we got further word. He is pitching to live batters behind an L-screen with no ill-effects and continues to be in play for an Opening Day rotation spot. His performance willing, I hope they slide him into the 4th slot in the rotation, which would allow him to pitch the home opener on April 9 against the Giants.

Contract details on Casey Blake, Aaron Cook | On the Rox — Colorado Rockies news — Denver Post Blake earns a non-guaranteed $2million contract with $1million in plate appearance based incentives. Clearly, the Rockies hope Blake will be their third baseman for as long as Nolan Arenado deems necessary.

Rockies Prime Time - KOA: As noted by RoarFrom112, AM 850 KOA in Denver will now have one hour Rockies-devoted show on Monday nights from 7-8pm. The scheduling is a bit ironic given the topic of this post, as it will push talk aside of the recent Broncos game for at least two weeks. Those missing the Rockies can hear Jack Corrigan and Jerry Schemmel talk Rockies, with Rockies PR man Jay Alves also in attendance. Last night brought interviews of Michael Cuddyer and Dan O'Dowd. For notes on these, follow the previous link.

Successfully Making the Switch from Starting Pitcher to Reliever with Rockies Prospect Keith Weiser | The Next Level Ballplayer A video interview with Andrew Martin's favorite player.

Ben Petrick Once Hid His Parkinson's, But The Truth Finally Set Him Free - ESPN If you haven't read Steve Wulf's feature on the Rockies' one-time catcher-of-the-future, read it now, or consult yesterday's copy of ESPN the Magazine. Also, know that Petrick has written a book about his struggles. You can read an excerpt from the book on his blog that he posted Sunday.

Second Base Rankings Review - Roto Hardball Because I want to depress you from every possible angle.

Baseball Prospectus | The Lineup Card: Switched at Birth: 14 Players Who Look Like Other People There is no mention of Troy Tulowitzki fighting cars with Megan Fox, but there are a few here that are definite matches. See Tim Lincecum.

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