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The Colorado Rockies play better when fans show up

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Several Rockies players -- and the team's manager -- talked about the importance of having a good, energetic crowd behind them.

Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

DENVER -- There are some who find the notion of fan-fueled success patently absurd. Baseball games are won and lost based on talent and statistics, not on some ambiguous, largely unexplainable -- and certainly immeasurable -- fan energy.

There are some who believe that games played in empty stadiums are essentially the same affairs as those that take place in front of packed houses.

No one who believes such things currently suits up for the Rockies.

Today's conversation is not a condemnation or guilt trip but an observation that couldn't have felt more absolute than when the Rockies' home faithful erupted with applause after a sacrifice bunt that kickstarted a three-run third inning in a 10-4 win over the Milwaukee Brewers on Sunday.

Each ensuing, run-scoring effort led to cascading uproars that palpably lifted the energy in the building and, if you believe in such things, fueled the Rockies to a desperately needed home series win.

I don't know why it happened, but it felt like a playoff atmosphere in June. It wasn't just the quantity, it was the quality. Cheers that rewarded good play permeated the stadium and team so completely that it felt the Rockies kept scoring and flashing leather because they simply could not get enough of the sound.

"It was a good crowd today," said manager Walt Weiss  "We even commented on it before the game. They were loud and that always helps, believe me."

I, for one, do believe him.

Much has been made this season about the Rockies' unusual struggles at home. Poor weather has yielded uneven schedules and light crowds. Purple Row's Matt Gross recently broke down just how completely strange this season at Coors Field has been and both Rockies players and coaches have been at a loss to explain the phenomenon.

"I've been here a long time and one thing we've always done is play fairly well at home," star shortstop Troy Tulowitzki recently said. "I don't know why, except maybe the weather has something to do with it, but even right now we aren't playing good at home and for us to be a good team we have to win at home."

It really is that simple.

"We need to play better baseball, especially here at home," Tulo added. "That is one thing we've talked about this whole year. We haven't had that mojo at home for some reason so hopefully we can get that back and get on a role."

But is there some key in Tulo's mind to getting the team back on track after being derailed by a problem neither of us could recall having existed in the past?

"There's no magic potion, y'know? It either happens or it doesn't," Tulowitzki quipped.

Maybe it really has been the weather. Maybe it's just a random coincidence, and maybe the team just isn't good enough to compete regardless of where they are playing. But I have a theory that one doesn't need to look past the headline of this article to understand: the Rockies play better baseball when their fans show up.

It couldn't have been more beautifully evidenced than in their 10-4 win against the Brewers behind starting pitcher Chris Rusin and the best crowd of the season.

"There were a lot of people today," said Rusin. "They were loud and they were into it, it was good to see. It helps you out, it fuels your fire and keeps you going."

As fans, we often feel helpless. The manager never runs things the way we would. The GM isn't acquiring the talent we all know we could get. The owner? Blah blah blah, of course. But there is one thing as fans we do have control over: acting as an adrenaline shot for our guys over the course of a 162-game marathon.

Before I started covering games frequently, I had this belief that the Rockies were some far-off presence -- something untouchable. I never believed that anything fans could do would have any effect on the team.

I was wrong.

Baseball teams are not concepts. They are not -- as I used to put it -- "in the TV."  Each guy in that locker room is just a person like you or me, capable of so much more when someone has our back. They are creatures of feel and habit as much as, if not more than, the rest of us. And if they believe that large and engaged crowds give them the energy to play at their best, who are we to argue?

So, if we are sick and tired of the Rockies losing, there really is only one tangible thing we as fans can do. They won't let us set the lineups. We won't be executing any trades at the deadline.

But we can show up ... and support our Rockies.