It has now been 1,288 days since I witnessed what unquestionably remains the most disappointing inning of baseball I've ever seen in my life. An inning that not only capped an early exit from the 2009 postseason for Colorado, but an inning that now seems instrumental in the death of what seemed like a promise. For this reason, the 9th frame of Game 4 of the 2009 NLDS against Philadelphia almost stings more now than it did when the wound was open and fresh.
You see, the one piece of solace I foolishly took from that experience was that the Philly series wasn't the end, it was the beginning. The Rockies had proven themselves to be the best team in baseball over the final four months of that season, and four games in October did not outweigh what that meant for 2010 and beyond. It was Okay to dream on this team, because by all accounts, the future looked bright.
But baseball (as we now know) had other plans for this franchise. The narrative was about to change; and for the better part of the next three years, each time it did, it would be a narrative that was worse and even more unbearable than the one that preceded it. The 2010-2012 stretch of seasons for the Rockies turned out to be the baseball equivalent of getting thrown under the bus, getting run over by the bus, and just for good measure, having the bus back up and run you over again until every last ounce of optimism was squeezed out of your soul.
So by the time this spring rolled around, many felt that the narrative of the 2013 Colorado Rockies was already locked in place. They were picked to finish last by major sports media outlets like SI and the four letter network, they were seen as underwhelming by major projection systems and Vegas over / unders that each had them finishing in the neighborhood of 20 games under .500, they were assailed in articles like this gem before the season even started, and were picked to lose 109 games by one very overconfident baseball analyst. As far as these folks were concerned, the stage was set for another Rocky Mountain baseball disaster.
But then, a funny thing happened. The narrative changed again. Only this time, it was a good thing for Colorado fans. Through 18 games this season, the Rockies have hit well, pitched well, fielded well, and for the most part, taken advantage of the gifts their opponents have given them - And they've done these things well enough to share the best record in baseball. This doesn't guarantee that there isn't rough seas ahead for this team, but it does mean that for the first time in a long time, it's really fun to be a Rockies fan.
Regardless of where this hot start leads, the Rockies have already accomplished more in three weeks than many thought they would all season. The narrative is no longer a tiresome discussion about how many games under .500 this team will finish. Instead, it has switched to figuring out if 13-5 is merely a fluke, or the start of something special. No matter what the answer to this question is however, they have already captured the attention of the public. Yesterday, on a weekend where the Nuggets (perhaps the most exciting team in basketball) opened up a playoff series with a win, the Rockies drew 42,507 to Coors Field in a game against Arizona. That's probably not just an "Oh Coors Field is great and the weather is nice" crowd. Not with the way expectations were going into this season. That's a "This team has perked our interest" (at least a little bit) crowd.
I have no idea where this journey is going to lead. I still believe that this team's fate is wildly unpredictable, and I'm fully aware that things could come crashing down at any moment. After the last two seasons, there's a part of me that's always going to feel like every step forward is just leading to a trap door.
However, I'm not going to dwell on that this morning. Worrying about those things would be a waste of time. Instead, I'm just going to sit back and enjoy this team and see how long the sweet ride of meaningful baseball lasts. For now, that elusive magic is back at Coors Field. It's only April magic, but it's still a whole heck of a lot better than anything we've seen in a long time. So I'll gladly take it and savor every second, because as I've learned the hard way before, you never know when baseball's narrative is going to swiftly and suddenly shift again.
Patrick Saunders talks a little about the Rockies 13-5 start and has some quotes from Tulo and Cargo after yesterday's game.
Unfortunately it's not all good news for Colorado right now. Yesterday the Rockies had to place Jhoulys Chacin on the 15 day DL and recall Rob Scahill from AAA. There is no official word yet on who will make Chacin's next start (assuming these games are even played with the winter weather that's moving back in) but Tyler Chatwood and Drew Pomeranz are the most likely options.
Wilin Rosario's remarkable improvement behind the plate this season has almost gone under the radar with the Rockies recent hot streak, but the role it's played is chronicled very nicely in this piece by Jorge Ortiz in the USA Today.
James Gentile of The Hardball Times wrote an interesting piece last Friday about when batters are the most aggressive during a game.