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The Rockies' last two weeks have just been awful

Let's look at the crappiest month of the season! (So far.)

Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to the 19th Purple Row edition (and 124th overall) of Tuesdays With Mitch, where we the playoff races are heating up... Just not around here. Let's get into it...

August has been a rough month for the Rockies. Yes, May and June and July were also rough, but something about the kind of baseball the Rockies have been playing for the past couple weeks makes it feel like the worst stretch we've seen from the local ball club... like, ever.

And that is really, really saying something. That 2012 team with its four-man rotation and pitch counts and piggybacking was a 98-loss debacle. Last year's team and its obscene number of killer injuries was a 96-loss disaster.

And somehow, this 2015 team might be worse than both of them and every other team in franchise history.

We've known this team was bad for a long while now, but I never expected it to land atop the pantheon of all-time awful Rockies teams. But unfortunately, these guys are staring 100 losses right in the face.

After last night's predictable loss in Atlanta, the Rockies are 49-74. TWENTY-FIVE games under .500. So, for the Rockies to reach that dubious (albeit somewhat arbitrary) 100-loss plateau, they would have to finish the year 13-26, recording exactly two losses for each win. The more levelheaded approach would suggest the Rox will come back to the mean a bit and win more than a third of their games, but I just don't know. This team looks destined to lose and lose and lose and lose. Indeed, I'm thinking the only reprieve from the crappiness will be when the season comes to a close in San Francisco on October 4th.

Look at the Rockies' records by month:

  • April:  11-10 (.524)
  • May:  11-16 (.407)
  • June:  12-17 (.414)
  • July:  9-15 (.375)
  • August:  6-16 (.273)
Those 16 August losses haven't been particularly close, either. The Rockies have been outscored 147-90 in the 22 games.

Perhaps the worst part about all the losing is that it means we have to see tweets like this from some guy who hasn't watched the Rockies once all year, but follows them on Twitter, so he can see when they lose, so he can make a joke about 100 losses, so he can feel good about getting seven Faves and Retweet.

Pretty clever stuff!

Anyway, we have another six weeks to see where the rest of the season takes this team, so let's focus on some of the specific crappiness we've witnessed in the past couple weeks.

After somehow winning that series in Washington, the Rockies are 2-12 in their last 14 games. They've gone from 15 games under .500 (which is really bad) to 25 games under (which is also really bad) in just two weeks. And those two weeks have been the most unwatchable of the season, narrowly edging out the 11-game losing streak of early May.

In those 14 games...

  • We saw a stretch of really solid outings from the starters, followed by a parade of no-name guys trotting out from the bullpen with a gas can in each hand.
  • We saw the Rockies score a total of five runs in four games in New York.
  • We saw Rafael Betancourt get cut. Just straight-up DFA'ed. A fan favorite that battled back from Tommy John surgery to pitch at age 40 couldn't play out his final season. Rafa showed flashes, but the effectiveness just wasn't there. Now his career is likely over. I understand the move, but it makes me sad. He was awesome for several years, beginning with that playoff run in 2009.
  • We saw Jon Gray get lit up for the first time in his career. He'll be fine. Rookie pitchers get lit up sometimes, especially at Coors Field, especially facing a lineup for the second time in ten days. But Gray Day is pretty much all I look forward to with the Rockies anymore, and that sucked to watch.
  • We saw Chris Rusin, fresh off a complete game shutout at Coors, give up 9,000 extra base hits* in like two innings
  • We saw David Hale throw 4,000 wild pitches* in like two innings.
  • We saw Jose Reyes kind of say he wants a trade. (Honestly, I don't really have much of a reaction to this one. But it's still not the most positive publicity)
  • We saw the Rox lose to the Mets by an embarrassing score of 14-9.
  • Twice.
  • And we saw Matt Harvey skip a start against the Rockies, only for some guy you've never heard of to give up just one run in eight innings at Coors field in his only start of the year.
*Numbers unconfirmed.

I know all of this losing could result in a number one overall draft pick, but tanking doesn't work quite the way it does in basketball and football. If in a few years that draft pick turns into a superstar, I suppose we can all look back on this month with fondness and laughter. But that is an enormous "if".

Right now, we're just stuck watching an awful baseball team.

Now we proceed to the weekly departments...

Stud of the week:

Denver Post columnist Benjamin Hochman wrote his final column for the Post on Saturday. You should read it.

Hooch came to town as the Nuggets' beat reporter when I was majoring journalism at Colorado State and was really starting to study the sports pages every day. He quickly became my favorite local writer. He covered some crazy-ass Nuggets teams pretty much perfectly, with some sly references to the oddities of those squads. (Random example:  One game JR Smith made like nine threes, so he started shooting it from behind the arc on every single possession to try to set some records. I remember Hochman prefacing that sequence by writing, "In the fourth quarter, things got a little weird." Stuff like that cracked me up. A subtle nod to JR's complete insanity made those gamers fun.)

When he moved over to columnist and was given more freedom with his work, he became the best and most important voice in all of Denver sports media. His columns were usually fun and funny. They could be sad and somber when that sentiment was needed.

My favorite Hochman column was his colorful account of Opening Day in 2014. He captured the scene perfectly. Who else in town gives us stuff like this?
And, most everyone surely shared that tingle of anticipation when you walk toward the dark, shadowy gates, down the drab gray hall and then there, suddenly, is the gleaming green of the infield. And you realize there's no place on the planet you'd rather be, and you wonder about those people who don't "get" baseball because, at this moment, even if they lived on your block, they're foreigners for sure.

A stranger, strange and strong, put her arm around my neck and bellowed: "I've been at this since about 8 this morning!" Hip-hop and techno music blared from the ViewHouse across the street, including the Lil' Jon song with the hook: "Shots! Shots! Shots! Shots! Shots!" Like anyone needed encouragement. At 1:35, the sun punctured the overcast sky, as if Mother Nature got last-minute tickets to the game.
Hochman is good on Twitter. He's good on the radio in his spots with Nate Kreckman. And, of course, he's good in the paper.

Hochman's departure is a big gain for his hometown, and big loss for a city that would welcome him back in a heartbeat.

Ass of the week:

I won't dive in to the Chris Carter story too much, but I will say that it is hilarious. The fact that he's wearing his gold Hall of Fame jacket while telling guys how to wiggle out of the future crimes they're definitely going to commit is just the cherry on top of the icing on the cake. The NATIONAL FOOTBAW LEAGUE is such a hot mess at all times. It's fantastic.

Vine of the week:

This is an all-timer. Keep in mind the pitcher's team is already down 14-0 and this monster grand slam (it looks like it goes more than 200 feet!) makes it 18-0. The youthful hurler seems unconcerned with the score. It looks like he yells HOOOOOOLY CRAP! at the very beginning of that Vine. It's the best.

Some other stuff from around the internet:

This four-year-old's bat flip is getting all the love, but look at that sweet, left-handed swing! Also, look at that bat flip! This kid is my damn hero.

The ball boy play of the year! Although, to be fair, this looks more like a ball man.

Switching over to college football because I'm a sucker for this kind of thing, particularly when it involves that team in Fort Collins.

And finally, this game started six years ago last night (and ended six years ago today). I was there. I stayed for all 14. And it is easily a top-5 Coors Field memory.

The Rockies gave up three runs in the top of the 14th to fall behind 4-1. In the bottom of the frame, An injured Dexter Fowler walked and hobbled to first base (he literally couldn't run). Clint Barmes popped out. Chris Iannetta singled. Troy Tulowitzki walked. Relief pitcher Adam Eaton, in his only plate appearance of the year, drew a bases-loaded walk, sending Fowler walking (very slowly) to home plate to make the game 4-2. Then Ryan Spilborghs stepped up...

I went nuts. Jumping over seats and throwing peanuts and stuff. It was pretty unreal.

Years later, Spilborghs would write:
There are certain things I can’t help but remember. My walk-off homerun ranks as one of my top individual memories, but also the most bittersweet in a year where I lost my mother and my starting job. I remember sprinting around those bases and screaming for the Giants to "get the F$&@ off our field!" It was the excitement at winning a very important game, but also the emotion of a difficult year filled with new life and death.

My goodness, those teams were so much damn fun. Baseball is the best.

Happy Tuesday, everybody. Thanks for readin'. See ya next week.


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