“What if...?” It’s a powerful and thought-provoking question. It can be fun to look back on history and wonder about what could have been if things turned out differently. Even just a minor alteration could have created a new branch in reality, thus leading to some sort of multiverse. In honor of Marvel’s new show What If...? coming soon, I can’t help but start thinking about the different realities and outcomes that could have occurred had some things happened differently in Rockies’ history. So, without further ado, let’s take a short journey into the Rockies-Verse and ponder some questions!
What if Todd Helton struck out against Saito?
With two outs in the bottom of the ninth against the Dodgers shutdown closer Takashi Saito, Todd Helton loads and fires at a 1-2 fastball and... misses? We all know that Todd Helton actually launched a walk-off two-run homer to win the game and spark the incredible Rocktober miracle run to the playoffs, but what if he had struck out?
Saito had been lights out all season, especially against the Rockies, so it wouldn’t have been unreasonable to think that when he pitched in the ninth the Dodgers were going to win. If Helton strikes out, the game is over, and no spark is ignited for the Rockies to win 21 of their next 22 games. Perhaps they don’t rally to win the next game against the Dodgers thanks to a Brad Hawpe home run in the bottom of the eighth. They then don’t play game 163 against the Padres or go to the World Series. Instead, the Rockies quietly miss the playoffs yet again to continue the drought. Thank goodness Helton hit that home run.
What if the Rockies don’t lose five games on the last road trip of 2018?
In midst of a close race in the National League West between the Rockies and the Dodgers, the Rockies' final road trip of the season saw them head to California and Arizona for the last round of division games. The Rockies ended the trip with a sweep of the Diamondbacks, but it was the California portion that hurt the season. The Rockies lost five of six, including a three-game sweep by the Dodgers. They entered that Dodgers series just a half-game ahead of Los Angeles, and they left down 2.5 games.
If the Rockies were able to win at least half the games against the Giants and Dodgers on that road trip, they most likely end up winning their first division crown. That means that there is no game 163 loss against the Dodgers in Los Angeles. The Rockies then don’t have to face a Wild Card game against the Chicago Cubs and ultimately don’t have to travel across three different time zones in the course of a few days until they finally get swept by the Milwaukee Brewers.
The Rockies could then face the Atlanta Braves in the NLDS, a team they went 5-2 against that season, including a four-game sweep in Atlanta. They beat the Braves, then face the Dodgers in the NLCS (assuming they likely beat the Brewers), but this time they have a best of seven scenario to work with and have a fairly good chance to have a 2007 World Series rematch with the Boston Red Sox.
What if the Rockies played in another division?
If you’re like me, you may be a bit exhausted playing in the National League West. It’s one of the hardest divisions in baseball due to the endless wealth and resources of the Dodgers, the resilience of the Giants, and the wheeling and dealing of the Padres with their endless farm system. What if the Rockies happened to play in another division? The likely fits would be one of the divisions in the central or the American League West. Personally, I want to travel to the reality in which the Rockies play in the American League Central.
The AL Central is one that in recent years has typically been a fairly easy division to win. There always seems to be at least one or two teams in the process of rebuilding, and a few others decide to go all in and push for a championship. Each team in the division has had their moment in the sun as the leader, and a few have played in the World Series in the past decade. This year, the Chicago White Sox are poised to take the division and potentially make a splash in the playoffs.
The fact that each team in the division fits into the same market level that the Rockies typically fit into would be quite beneficial. The Rockies would have a realistic chance to bid their time and pick the year where they can push for a playoff berth. They are a draft and develop type of team, and the AL Central is a draft and develop type of division. It’s quite possible that the Rockies would have won a few division titles, and maybe, just maybe, they really are just a few pieces away from a World Series caliber team.
There are so many other questions and hypotheticals that we could discuss. The Rockies truly are a bizarre and unique team surrounded by the unknowns. “What ifs” and “could have beens” plague the team’s history, but at the end of the day, they are what they are. This is the part of the Rockies-Verse that we are meant to experience for better or worse.
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One of the greatest surprises in the wake of the Nolan Arenado trade was the fact that Ryan McMahon is showing off how good a defender he is. McMahon has spent time at both second and third this season and has put up quality numbers at both positions with his glove. Thomas Harding caught up with McMahon and talked about the whole thought process that has helped him become of the best defenders in baseball in 2021.
Down in the minors, Joshua Fuentes is trying to find a way back onto the Rockies roster by working on his plate approach. That’s not all, however, as it sounds like Fuentes is working on getting reps in the outfield, to add that versatility to his game. We all know the Rockies love player versatility, and since Ryan McMahon and Brendan Rodgers have second and third covered Fuentes will need to find other avenues to maximize his value.
On the farm
Despite scoring four runs on the night, Albuquerque struggled to string hits together as they scattered eight hits with the biggest hit coming in the form of LJ Hatch’s three-run triple. Frank Duncan allowed four runs on six hits, including two home runs, in four innings of work in one of his more inefficient outings of the year. Heath Holder allowed two more runs in seventh, but the bullpen was otherwise lights out.
The Yard Goats utilized a pair of three-run innings to triumph over the Fisher Cats on Saturday night. Hartford tallied 13 hits on the night and with the help of a trio of players, put up enough runs to support the pitching staff. Jameson Hannah continued his strong season with three hits at the top of the lineup. Elehuris Montero continued his hot streak with two hits, including a three-run shot for his 22nd home run of the season. Michael Toglia also added his first Double-A home run with a three-run shot in the first inning to get the Yard Goats on the board. Nate Harris started on the hill for Hartford and threw five quality innings, allowing three runs on six hits, but he did struggle with walks by allowing four.
Spokane made things interesting in the bottom of the ninth, but the rally came up just short as they only scored three runs to make it a 6-5 Everett victory. Offensively, Spokane was led by Aaron Schunk who had two hits, along with Kyle Datres, Jack Blomgren, and Isaac Collins. Noah Davis made his second start for Spokane was roughed up a bit more in this one. He managed to go six innings, but allowed four runs on nine hits while striking out four.
Zac Veen continues to excel in Fresno, adding three more hits including his 13th home run in the victory over San Jose. Veen was also involved in another interesting play in the sixth inning when he stole home as part of a double steal giving him 30 stolen bases on the season. Anderson Amarista started on the mound and recorded a quality start, allowing one run on three hits in six innings of work while striking out eight batters.
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