clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

The expectations game: How good should the Colorado Rockies really be?

My mother always tells me, "basketball is a game of runs, baseball is a run of games." Just like the final score of a basketball game can be misleading, so can the final record of a baseball team.

Rob Tringali

Mad TV used to run a satirical dating segment called "Lowered Expectations." The brilliant premise was simple: what if instead of fantasizing about the perfect mate and expecting them to waltz into our lives like a suave detective in a Clark Gable film, we expected their crazy quirks and oft putting tendencies to waltz into our lives like a lost rodeo clown?

In the same way those old "dating videos" would feature absurd characters being overly honest about all their flaws, the Colorado Rockies ownership and its fans could both stand to be a little less polished and a little more honest.

Yesterday I was listening to James Gomez and Terry Frei on 104.3 the Fan and they were talking about how the vitriol surrounding the Rockies seems at an all-time high. I have certainly felt this in reaction to a number of pieces I've written here defending the team. It feels as though many Rockies fans are on the brink or well past it in terms of giving up on their team.

In a Rockpile a few weeks back, I asked the question, "What are fair expectations of for the Rockies?" The Purple Row readers voted thusly:

What are fair expectations for the Rockies franchise?

  • 3% Constant contention and multiple championships per decade. (11 votes)
  • 14% Regular playoff berths with a shot at the championship at least once per decade. (55 votes)
  • 43% Semi-regular contention for a playoff spot with occasional seasons to catch fire and win it all. (Rays model) (162 votes)
  • 19% Treading water some years, making playoffs others. (Oakland model) (73 votes)
  • 5% Bottom rung team with too many variables to be counted on for anything other than lucky bouts of contention. (Royals model) (18 votes)
  • 6% Zero expectations. Things happen. Luck, injuries, the other boys get paid too. Sit back and watch baseball, it's fun! (21 votes)
  • 11% As long as Cargo and Tulo are on the team we should be in/near the playoffs every year. (41 votes)

381 votes total

I find this both perfectly reasonable and mildly silly. Because everyone thinks their team should be in or near contention every year. I was not a math major, but I'm pretty sure in a zero-sum game where you can only win if somebody else loses, this is impossible.

I'm sure if you polled fans of the Royals, Pirates, Orioles, Marlins, Mariners, Indians, Twins, Astros, and Brewers you would get similar results. And the ugly truth is that we can't all be the Rays, otherwise who would the Rays be?

(Note: the Tampa Bay Rays also have exactly one more playoff appearance the the Colorado Rockies.)

Did you know that the Detroit Tigers have been to the playoffs exactly ONE more time than the Rockies in the last 20 years?

For most of that period (until last season) there were only four playoff teams in each league each season. More than half of the time, the Yankees, Red Sox, Braves and Cardinals have taken up half of the spots. Most fans would tell you that they don't expect to compete with those teams (or now including the Dodgers) but fail to realize what small window the Rays operate in.

My mother always tells me, "basketball is a game of runs, baseball is a run of games." Just like the final score of a basketball game can be misleading, so can the final record of a baseball team.

I think a lot of the negativity surrounding the Rockies lately has much more to do with the way the last few seasons have run away from them in a similar fashion to the way individual games have been running away from the Nuggets lately. In other words, I think it has looked a lot worse than it has been and people will be surprised by how a few reinforcements stabilize this whole team. Or I'll be wrong about that.

Being a hardcore fan of the Colorado Rockies and expecting them to compete on the level of the Yankees, Red Sox, or Cardinals regularly is like marrying your high school sweetheart and then being mad when she doesn't become a supermodel or a Rhodes Scholar. Complaining that the Rockies success in 2007 and 2009 were flukes is like being mad when your not-quite supermodel/Rhodes Scholar sweetheart takes you to a fancy award ceremony in their honor.

And saying, "I know we can't be the Yankees! I just want us to be like the Rays!" Feels kinda like saying, "I don't want Brad Pitt! I want Ryan Gosling!"