For being the leader of a team that’s currently walking away from the diamond victorious just 43% of the time, Bud Black has seemingly flown under the radar at times this season. And with good reason - there are just too many other storylines to focus on.
Fans are still angry with the front office, even if the man who is mostly to blame for the team’s current state of affairs is no longer a part of the organization. There’s the “thrown together at the last second” All-Star game that is less than a week away. The team’s record away from Coors Field is so bad that it would probably be wrong if it weren’t regularly discussed. Throw the never-ending trade talk surrounding Trevor Story on top of that and it’s easy to see why Bud Black has remained unscathed most of the year.
So why not talk about Bud Black’s season a bit today and where he stands in Rockies managerial history?
With expectations so low going into the season, there was very little pressure on Bud Black and the rest of the coaching staff. This team has more or less performed as expected and it’s hard to fault Bud Black for the struggles this team has faced. Does he consistently put in veteran players ahead of the young guys who need experience? Yes, but he does seem to be moving away from that formula, fortunately. Other than that, Bud Black has been adequate (dare I say good?) during the first half of the season.
While managers are frequently scrutinized for the chess match they play late in games, the Rockies’ bullpen struggles are actually a blessing in disguise for Black. When you find yourself running a squad where the lowest reliever ERA is, gulp, 4.05, the issue is more likely with the players than the coach. As detrimental as it is for the results, it doesn’t really matter who Bud Black puts in. Once the starter finishes for the day, it will be a rocky ride for the remaining innings.
Throughout all of this, there hasn’t been much chatter about Bud Black’s job security. That may change this winter if the Rockies turn outwards for a new general manager, but for now, it doesn’t seem like Black is going anywhere.
When the Rockies play their series finale against the Los Angeles Angels on July 28th, it will be Black’s 649th game at the helm - third-most in franchise history. He still has a LONG way to go to reach Clint Hurdle’s record of 1159, but Don Baylor’s second place is within reach if Buddy is still around in 2023.
With a 312-321 record since his hiring in 2017, Black’s winning percentage of .493 is the highest of any Rockies manager, not to mention he’s the only skipper to lead the team to postseason baseball on multiple occasions.
Black may not win the NL Manager of the Year award come November, but he’s done an admirable job of handling a team that at times is swimming against the current thanks to the front office. The glory of back-to-back postseason appearances may always be what we remember Black for, but if his time in purple pinstripes is winding down, let’s give him the credit he deserves during this tough stretch.
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It looks like Dave Roberts, manager of the division rival Los Angeles Dodgers agrees with the points I made above! Roberts gets the honor of managing the National League’s best thanks to his Dodgers being the World Series champs in 2020, but he’s bringing with him Black who he served under when Buddy managed the Padres. While Germán Márquez will be the only Rockie on the NL squad, Black will be joined by head athletic trainer Keith Dugger and Gabe Bauer, Colorado’s director of physical performance to round out the squad representing the Rockies at Coors Field.
It’s safe to assume all members of the Rockies organization could present you with a great array of tips and tricks for navigating a trip to the Colorado capital, but my gut tells me that if I could only pick one guy to get pointers from, it would be Charlie Blackmon.
In breaking down his go-tos, Chuck Nasty suggests any non-locals make their way over to the town of Golden, not for the beer, but for the easy access to the mountains. Charlie suggests following that up with some time downtown taking in the city’s best views with a little rooftop eatery - there are so many to choose from but Blackmon isn’t picky on these.
You may not get a 4x All-Star touring you around Denver if you’re in town for the All-Star Game next week, but at least you know the places he’d be leading you to if you were.
On the farm
A tough first inning was too much for the Yard Goats to overcome as they fell to the Portland Sea Dogs on Wednesday. Portland got three on the board in the first and never looked back from there. The bats never got going for the boys from Hartford who managed a single run in the fourth and another in the ninth. The loss brought their record to 18-37 on the season.
Despite falling behind by two runs early, the Spokane Indians battled back using a two-run fourth to knot this one up and a go-ahead run in the eighth to defeat the Vancouver Canadians. After starting pitcher Helcris Olivarez gave up two runs in the first three innings, he settled down for two scoreless frames before handing it off to the bullpen who yielded just one hit across four shutout innings of their own to close this one out.
After both teams pushed across three runs in the first four innings, it wasn’t until an RBI single by Zac Veen in the tenth that the Grizzlies were able to finish this one up. Right fielder Daniel Montana hit a two-run HR in the top of the fourth to give the Grizzlies a one run lead, only to see that lead disappear in the very next half inning. With the win, the Grizzles are up to a 36-20 record this year.
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