Before we all say a hearty good riddance to 2020, we here at Purple Row would like to take one last look at something that was good about the last 365 days. As a part of an annual tradition here at Purple Row, we here collect our favorite articles written over the course of the last calendar year as a way of reflecting on what we’ve accomplished. We do this to honor our writers and the hard work they’ve put in but also to remember something good about the last year or so.
This was a trying year for all of us, and it was especially difficult when we had to go an extra three months without any baseball. We made the most of it though, with the Rockies Sim helping us pass a great deal of that time.
But there was more to this season as well. As usual, Purple Row is just bits of code without the contributions of you, our readers, FanPosters, commenters, and sharers. Thank you. Here is the work we’re most proud of from 2020.
In case you forgot, this is the second offseason in a row in which the Rockies have passively (or actively) alienated fans. Renee captured the sentiment well the sentiment of many last January.
Who knew that the high point of the season would come so early. Walker will have to wait until next summer to be officially enshrined in Cooperstown, but many of us (SpongeBob included) were extremely pleased with the news.
No, but really, for all the posturing and avoidance of the subject from the Rockies’ front office, it’s hard to blame anyone but the front office for the disillusionment of the all-world third baseman. (And, as I pointed out the following month in our State of the Position series, blaming Monfort is only avoiding the one who truly deserves the blame).
It’s not often that a pitching coordinator figures to make a big difference for a team. But considering the Rockies were very recently lagging behind on the use of technology and analytics, there were reasons for hope that Steve Merriman might be a difference maker. A few of her fellow writers nominated Renee’s piece for this list.
Ben got the chance to interview Jon Gray during Spring Training and discuss the ways he thought the work he put in during the offseason would benefit him in 2020. Oh, and Steve Merriman gets another big shoutout!
In the time before shutdowns, Rockies fans were struggling with how to prepare for a season in which the front office seemed unwilling or unable to address the needs of the roster. Ben captured the situation fairly and soberly. The only thing that hasn’t aged well is the headline, as many would likely place their confidence in the FO even lower after the 2020 season than it was before.
This was the moment the pandemic became real for many of us (and it got even more real from a similar announcement a week later).
And this was the moment where Ben stepped up to help us all fill the gap left without games.
Like the rest of the world, Rockies players had to find a new routine once lockdowns hit. There were encouraging messages and some videos of players getting creative in their workouts. Quite a fun look back.
The shutdown gave us plenty of opportunity to consider things to which we hadn’t paid much attention before. One of the more fun things among those was a look at the Rockies’ look.
How does player development work in the Rockies minor league system? - Samantha Bradfield | April 30
Sam got to sit down with Assistant GM of Player Development Zach Wilson to discuss a wide range of topics. Wilson was exceedingly generous with his time and Sam’s thoughtful interview is worth revisiting to see how much work goes into player development and to take a peek where the Rockies have had some historical success. Wilson and Sam also talked about Sam Hilliard and Ryan Rolison at length.
I accidentally watched KBO baseball on the night it returned and was reminded about when I love about baseball and why I—like many of us, I’m sure—was missing baseball so much when we were one month into what should have been the season.
We had a fun little “What If..?” series in May and Justin tackled one that more or less came true. But what would have happened had it been undone completely?
As a part of that same series, Becca’s addressed one of the most pertinent ones for a Rockies fans. She unraveled a lot of threads that I, for one, wouldn’t have thought about.
What If’s tend to be at least a little painful. Sam gave us a bittersweet one, examining what the world may have been like without so many Troy Tulowitzki injuries.
A better way to think about the money divide between MLB players and owners - Adam Peterson | May 20
T’was a long saga waiting for an agreement to play games. The best move the owners made was to release/leak some financials that indicated they would lose gobs of money without fans. Digging into the information we had, it wasn’t quite as the owners painted it, but it was still helpful in illuminating the divide.
This was honestly one of the best articles produced during the lockdown. Joelle examined the vast history of the Rockies, expansion teams, and the foreseeable future of the teams.
Just when it seemed likely there would be no games, the players threw down the “Tell us when and where” Gauntlet. It many ways, it worked to the players’ advantage, but it also furthered a narrative I’ve grown quite tired of over the last few years. So I sought to reframe it.
Back when we were still trying to figure out what MLB games were going to look like in 2020, Renee figured that cardboard cutouts would be great to have in the stadiums. In a rare move in the Internet Age, Renee published a mea culpa, having discovered all the various drawbacks of the cardboard cutouts.
Literally the high point of the season, two weeks into play. This was just a simple Rockpile but if you want to remember what it was like to have hope for the season, you can click that link.
One of the bizarre things about 2020 was the lack of any minor league play. Teams instead were limited to “satellite camps,” often located close to the major league stadium. The Rockies kept theirs at Metro State University and Sam got to talk with Brenden Rodgers about what it was like.
2020 was surely not Nolan Arenado’s favorite year. A public conflict with his GM led into a pandemic shortened season which was his worst at the plate since his rookie season. The Rockies, who after their great start limped to a 26-34 record, and the missing production from Nolan played a major role. Justin took a step back to examine what’s been going on with Nolan just about two weeks before he was shut down for the season with shoulder inflammation.
It was quite poignant to see players like Matt Kemp and Trevor Story speak up about how they’ve been impacted by the nation’s reckoning with racial inequality this year. Joelle did a masterful job of letting the players speak for themselves, the most important part.
Rockies 8, Angels 4: Walk off grand slam by Blackmon gives Rockies the win - Chet Gutwein | September 12
This was probably the best thing that happened for the 2020 Rockies between that “best record in MLB” and today. Chet captured the moment well.
It got real bad after not too long. So what went wrong? As it turns out, a little bit of everything.
One of the hardest things about being a Rockies fan right now is watching Nolan Arenado become one of the best third basemen ever without the accompanying level of team success. It’s a similar situation with Mike Trout (though only one of these players has won a playoff game to date).
Daren peered into the crystal ball to imagine what would happen in the future if certain things happened with the offseason. It’s a fun or at least informative hypothetical to play out.
Chuck Natzy’s season was a bit of a roller coaster. From a positive COVID-19 test (and a pretty severe illness to go with it), to hitting .400 two weeks in, to a bit of a slump to end the year. Becca captured it all well.
One of the season’s pleasant surprises, Josh Fuentes began the season at the Alternative Training Site and, due to injuries and poor performance, became more-or-less the Rockies’ everyday first baseman. He took that opportunity and ran with it.
As we noted earlier, Nolan Arenado did not have a typical #NolanBeingNolan season at the plate. But he was still the All-World self with the glove at the hot corner. That’s what makes the simmering conflict between Nolan and GM Jeff Bridich so distressing for those of us who love watching Nolan in purple pinstripes.
There were good things about the 2020 Rockies, even if most of them were limited to individual player performances. Justin summarized how Kyle Freeland turned around a rough 2019 into a very good 2020 on the mound.
Anyone who ever spent time in the outfield bleachers at Coors Field encountered Captain Earthman. We all missed being in stadium this year and that reminded Justin of the beloved beer vendor. He paid an ample tribute and many of our writers nominated this as one of their favorites of 2020.
Justin was on the “Things we missed at the stadium in 2020” beat. In December, when we received word that El Chapultepec was closing its doors, he put out a call to help keep the beloved LoDo stalwarts afloat until we can all enjoy them together before a game.
Let’s try anything to make the Rockies better, I say!
Projection systems already don’t like what 2021 has to offer for the Rockies. But there’s a good team hiding in there somewhere! Chet did the hard work to figure out what a good Rockies team would look like with the current roster.
Finally, Justin Williams unveiled this offseason a new regular Top 10 feature. His last one of the year sparked a lively debate in the Purple Row Slack as well as the comments.
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Thanks to all our writers for all the work you’ve put into Purple Row this season. And to our readers, once again, thanks for being the best part of the site. We’d love to hear if there were any other articles you really enjoyed that slipped off our list.
Here’s to 2021 being better than 2020, perhaps the lowest bar to clear in a long time.