DENVER -- A large contingent of Front Range fans have officially tuned out the Colorado Rockies. It's hard to blame them; football season is in full swing and the Denver Broncos are off to a strong start. Also, the Rockies are 65-90, so they probably shouldn't be absolved of any responsibility here.
But Colorado sports fans who aren't watching the Rockies -- the 40,322 on hand on Saturday notwithstanding -- are missing out on some pretty great stories down the stretch.
One of those stories is Carlos Gonzalez, who lifted the Rockies to their 35th home win of the season with a two-run, walk-off home run in the bottom of the ninth inning on Saturday. Gonzalez has hit 35 home runs since June 1, and he's one deep fly away from giving the Rockies two 40-homer hitters for the first time since 1997.
That's because Nolan Arenado finally reached dinger No. 40 with a first-inning grand slam. Arenado is the first Rockies player in the humidor era to leave the yard 40 times, and by season's end, he could achieve an even bigger accomplishment.
As Patrick Saunders of The Denver Post pointed out, Arenado could become the second third baseman in MLB history to finish a season with 40 homers, 120 runs batted in and a Gold Glove award. The other? Some fella named Mike Schmidt.
"That would be pretty awesome to be in that type of company," Arenado said. "I've got some games to go to make some plays on defense and hit some balls hard. Hopefully I can keep going."
There are only seven more opportunities to see Arenado -- a player who could be well on his way to being a generational talent -- do those things this season.
Overshadowed by the power display put on by Gonzalez and Arenado are the successful returns of Corey Dickerson and Justin Morneau. Two of the Rockies' top offensive performers in 2014, Dickerson and Morneau have missed significant time this season due to injuries. But both have picked up right where they left off.
Dickerson notched two more hits Saturday, giving him 18 in 52 at-bats since returning to action on Sept. 8. But the bigger story -- or at least, it should be -- is Morneau, whose career was in jeopardy after he suffered another concussion earlier this season and dealt with the after effects for months. Since rejoining the Rockies, Morneau is hitting .385 (20-for-52), including a 4-for-4 performance in the team's second-to-last home game of the season.
"It's tough to do, man," Rockies manager Walt Weiss said after the game. "After missing that much time at this level, it's really difficult. He's hit for his whole life and he figures things out quick."
"What he's doing right now is very impressive," Weiss added. "Dickerson, too."
The team as a whole has stepped up tremendously after being swept by the Pittsburgh Pirates earlier in the week. Though they're just 12-14 in September, the Rockies aren't going down without a fight, giving the division-leading Dodgers all they can handle.
"We don't want to see them celebrate on our field," Arenado said. "They're probably going to win it, but we'd rather see them celebrate somewhere else."
Protecting Coors Field (as Arenado, Gonzalez and Morneau -- all of whom talked about that very thing after the game -- are trying to do in this series) is one of the most important goals the Rockies have failed to accomplish during their five-year stretch without a winning record. It's one of countless issues that need to be addressed this offseason and beyond. But while we're doing all of this completely understandable and valid handwringing, let's not lose sight of some pretty magical stuff that is unfolding before our eyes during the last couple weeks of another draining season.
Those of us who don't give a hoot about the Broncos gotta have something to cheer for, right?