The Rockies are a team full of question marks going into a brand new season starting this Monday. They are projected by most "experts" to finish 4th or 5th in the division with a best-case scenario producing a .500 ball club. Plenty has been written about their misgivings, but a few posts, mainly here on Purple Row, have at least given Rockies fans some hope. As I sat down to write this article I felt that there wasn't a whole lot to cover about the Rockies upcoming season that hasn't already been touched on, so I wanted to write about hope, belief (in the Rockies), and what being a fan is all about in my opinion.
Yesterday, a few more season previews went up and they of course projected the Rockies to finish last in the division and far from .500. They suffered through a franchise worst season last year and there are probably more questions than answers facing the club. So when the calendar turns to April and the Rockies begin play, why do I have a good feeling about them?
To me this is what being a fan is all about.
Every team starts out 0-0 and therefore they all have the exact same chance to make the playoffs. Every team trots out a 25 man roster and no team can predict injuries and player production perfectly. If ever there's an inexact science, that's it.
Throw out statistics, get rid of any predictions you have heard, and just picture yourself watching the Rockies playing baseball in October. It might not be realistic and it might not even be healthy, but isn't that part of the reason you follow a team, because deep down you believe the often overused cliche, "So you're saying there's a chance?"
Isn't hope what baseball and other sports predicate their fan-dom off of? Hope gives people a reason to live. If you really have absolutely 100% no hope that the Rockies can pull off a miracle season, then you are probably having a lot less fun. Of course, no fan would say, "I hope my team finishes last". There would be no reason to watch or go to a game or read anything about the team if that was the hope. But with hope comes expectations and if expectations aren't met, then comes disappointment.
As a fan of the Rockies, I was extremely disappointed with last season. Not necessarily because my expectations were unrealistic, but because I had hoped for something better than I got. But if there's no hope, then what's the point anyway? So why should Rockies fans have hope in the Rockies this year?
Health is the major reason. If the Rockies stay relatively healthy as a club there should be much higher expectations for the team. You often hear excuses from organizations that the reason they didn't make a major move is because they feel that what they have is better than anything they could have gotten. You will likely hear at trade deadlines that certain moves weren't made because player X coming back from an injury is just like trading for player Y.
Well the Rockies have that in Troy Tulowitzki, Jhoulys Chacin, Jorge De La Rosa, and Juan Nicasio. Depending on how you look at it, you could say that the Rockies ‘acquired' 4 players just by those guys all coming back healthy and playing to their combined abilities, especially Tulo, Chacin, and De La Rosa. If the Giants last year didn't have Buster Posey, Matt Cain and Madison Bumgarner, would people greatly lower their expectations for them? Absolutely. Are Chacin and De La Rosa as good as Cain and Bumgarner? No. But Tulowitzki is just as if not more valuable than Posey. And Chacin and De La Rosa certainly both have the ability to be 15 game winners.
In addition, the Rockies have young talent that can potentially get better. Certain guys develop at different times in their careers. Nelson could really blossom, Fowler could take another step forward, and Tulo and CarGo could both play like superstars. If Arenado is the third baseman, he could win Rookie of the Year and solidify our infield defense.
So have hope Rockies fans and have heart because those things could happen and make the Rockies relevant this year! This year could be the year, and remember, hope springs eternal.