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Monday Rockpile: New Week, New Beginnings

So my title this morning is a bit misleading, it's not as if we're acquiring some new-to-the-franchise face or something along those lines. I guess it's more that we can't mire over bitter losses and frustrating defeats.

Every day in the summer when we wake up, there's a new baseball game to watch. People may be struggling, some batters may be hot, some pitchers might be watching their curveballs flatten into slowballs. Rookies getting a first look, veterans fighting to regain a glimpse of their former glory years, and even the injured players catching the ceremonial first pitches.

Every time I walk into Coors Field, I feel a small rush of excitement. As I walk out of the tunnel and into the massive cathedral that is the field, I feel that whole sense of Americana, and everything is just great. The alternating shading patterns on the grass, the shaved chocolate dirt of the track, and the craftsman's precision to which the grounds crew draws the batters' boxes and the baselines.

The ballpark offers such fun to every visitor, the sounds, the cheers, the elementary school choirs bellowing The Star Spangled Banner. The cold refreshment as a frosty beer makes its way from the plastic cup straight to one's head. The bite of the sauerkraut and hot mustard on a foot-long frank. The peanut shells crunching underfoot and the slight chagrin you feel when you think of the tireless cleaning crews who spend their nights sweeping up after the Coors Faithful.

Every warm summer night spent at the ballpark undoubtedly houses an assortment of fans: the season ticket holders, little league teams, families spending a night out, partiers looking for an activity to bridge their evening to the clubs, even some misguided out-of-town fans looking to cheer on heroes from their hometowns.

There are fathers bringing their sons along who end up watching about 3 innings of the game and spend the other 6 walking around with their restless child, meeting the mascots, trying to hit a ball in a cage, and eventually making their world just a little stickier with a bag of cotton candy. Don't forget the mothers taking interest in their husbands and children's passion. Let's not forget the families who are the other way around, the Coors Moms and Ladies who carry the family's passion and hold the Helton banners in the CF pavilion.

I'd wager that with each big crowd there's at least one person who's never been to the ballpark before, whether that be a 5-year-old who hasn't figured out which hand to throw with yet or a 45-year old accountant who was invited by a friend and knows nothing about the team or the players. Every player stepping into the batters' box could be the one who hits the home run, and every pitcher stepping onto the mound might throw a fastball so fast that it needs to be monitored by aircraft, or a curveball that seems to defy all we know about physics with the loops and breaks.

As much as we know the teams, we grouse about the performances and bemoan the strange decisions put into play, let's all remember more than anything that this is the game of baseball. It's the perfect game, writhe with contradictions and riddled with complexity, masked behind the basic simplicity that any casual fan can appreciate:

"A good friend of mine used to say, ‘This is a very simple game. You throw the ball, you catch the ball, you hit the ball. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, sometimes it rains.' Think about that for a while." -Ebby Calvin LaLoosh

"Baseball is a funny game. You play with a round ball that comes in a square box. You hit it with a stick, catch it with a piece of leather and play on a diamond." - Mike Starkey imitating Candy Maldonado

"England and America should scrap cricket and baseball and come up with a new game that they both can play.  Like baseball, for example." - Robert Benchley

" No game in the world is as tidy and dramatically neat as baseball, with cause and effect, crime and punishment, motive and result, so cleanly defined." - Paul Gallico

But after all is said and done, it's still the game that we love and adore, and sometimes we need a refresher on this. Shake off the frustrations from the road trip, realize that the team is back in town for a nice little homestand, maybe sneak out to the park and catch a game. While you're there, maybe try something new. Take some pictures. Keep score. Sample some of the local fare. But most of all, take a load off. Have fun. It's the ballpark in summer, after all.

"I see great things in baseball.  It's our game - the American game.  It will take our people out-of-doors, fill them with oxygen, give them a larger physical stoicism.  Tend to relieve us from being a nervous, dyspeptic set.  Repair these losses, and be a blessing to us." - Walt Whitman


Links and news past the jump

The biggest news obviously is Dallas Braden pitching a perfect game vs the Tampa Bay Rays.

Lazy as it might seem, I'm not going to even bother covering it. This is so completely and exhaustively covered by the press that it'd be that much better to peruse what they have in store for you. The one thing I will mention: Perfect Game 18 and 19 were both performed by soft-tossing lefties. Greg, you're up!

Chacin starts to fulfill potential for Rockies || Thomas Harding,

We get an insider's rundown of Chacin's short major league career, the decisions and reasons as to why he started in AAA, and just a reminder that he's awesome so far in the majors.

The Rockies' Approach to Trade Clauses || Tim Dierkes,

This may be a repeat, but I felt it bore repeating. Apparently, several of our long-term extensions can just void their contracts or parts of them if they are traded. That's really, really interesting.

Rockies' goal for now is to lurk behind the leaders || Troy Renck, Denver Post

Basically put, we have gone through a ridiculously tough stretch of the season missing a lot of key players, and we're only 1 game below .500. Essentially, the game plan is to continue treading water and wait for injuries to heal and buttkicking to begin.

Rockies' Stewart shows power - but only on the road || Jim Armstrong, Denver Post

Ian Stewart is a beast on the road but isn't too special in Coors. He's blaming the altitude. That's a totally fair thing to blame, because this thin air really wrecks a lot of athletes. That said, once he gets himself up and moving, holy moly is he going to be destructive.

Other notes from this article include the flu/cold (that everyone on the team seemingly has) is starting to clear and Rafael Betancourt's unavailability tonight vs Philadelphia. Let's hope that's not a fact, because we might very well need him to be awesome.

Armstrong also discusses the rotation snafu that's gonna come into play when Hammel returns, then Francis returns, then DLR returns. Basically Hammel is the odd man out, but I don't see why it's so unfathomable to think that Jeff Francis might find himself in the bullpen. Not that we have any bullpen room anyway, but whatever, we'll make it work.

Rockies' Injuries plant seed for huge harvest down the road || Dave Krieger, Denver Post

Krieger pretty much just gives a rundown on the season thus far, how injuries have hampered us and the youth callups have helped us. However, this stuck out to me:

The Rocks have only four infielders for the other three positions — if Tulo is out, they have three. That's where Young's versatility comes in handy. He's listed as an outfielder this year, but he can still play second in a pinch.