Every year on or around April 15, Major League Baseball celebrates Jackie Robinson Day to commemorate the day Jackie played his first MLB game. Something that is often forgotten in the narrative is the league that fostered African-American talent before they were allowed to play in the majors. Today, MLB will turn the spotlight on the Negro Leagues by commemorating the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Negro National League.
This is more than just a one-off thing. Originally festivities were going to take place inside ballparks throughout the season, and the Negro Leagues Centennial was going to be recognized on June 27. But the coronavirus postponed the celebrations. Today, the Rockies and every other team will wear a special patch on their uniforms, and the Miami Marlins will even wear throwback Miami Giants uniforms, honoring a Negro Leagues team that played in the city in the 1930's.
Though Denver never had an official Negro Leagues team, they did have some semi-pro teams like the Denver White Elephants. And, in 1934, the Denver Post sponsored a tournament with enough prize money to attract top players from the Negro Leagues like Satchel Paige, Josh Gibson, Buck Leonard, and Cool Papa Bell. That integrated tournament was dubbed "The Little World Series of the West” and played a role in breaking down the color barrier in baseball.
So tip your cap today, folks. And if you're ever passing through Kansas City, make sure to visit the Negro Leagues museum; it's a gem.
The reality of the shortened season is that a bad six game stretch is 10% of the season, so the Rockies fifth loss in six games last night hurts almost as bad as their long winning stretch helped. Thomas Harding made a point to ask players about the impact not having a crowd plays on the momentum of a game. An excellent play by Nolan Arenado or a clutch hit by Trevor Story doesn't change the energy of an empty stadium.
Whereas in a normal season Story would have come to the plate last night in the bottom of the ninth with a chance to tie the game with the crowd buzzing with anticipation, all that could be heard was a faint, piped in crowd noise. Maybe it's a minor effect (and, statistically, it's more or less unquantifiable), but minor effects may play an outsized effect in such a shortened season.
Ryan Castellani allowed his first major league hit and run on Friday. Still, after two starts and 8 2⁄3 innings, his 1.04 ERA proves he's made an unexpected impact. The Rockies do not have the same level of depth that other top teams in the league have, so success in a shortened season will have to include injury luck or positive contributions from unexpected places. Fortunately for the Rockies, they've gotten a little bit of both thanks to Castellani. Check out Duane DePron's piece for how Story and Castellani feel about the start to the younger's career.