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Larry is in! And MLB needs to do better

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Colorado Rockies news and links for Friday, Sept. 10, 2021

The best moment of the Colorado Rockies 2021 happened on Wednesday. It wasn’t a homer or an unassisted triple play. It wasn’t a historic milestone on the field. Instead, it was 1,753 miles away in Cooperstown, New York.

It took place on MLB Network, MLB Network Radio, or streaming on MLB.com. It happened at 1 p.m. Mountain Time. Due to all of those factors, I couldn’t watch it live. The biggest reason is that I had to work. As a teacher, it sets a pretty bad example to get out my phone and watch a ceremony in the middle of class.

The second reason is that I don’t have MLB Network. I still have cable, simply because I can get AT&T SportsNet Rocky Mountain and Altitude so I can watch my local sports teams. However, adding MLB Network is in a whole different tier and costs more money on top of the extra packages I already have to buy to just watch my local teams.

I realize I sound like a grumpy old Luddite and maybe I am. I am also just frustrated with how hard MLB makes it to be a fan. From local blackouts to holding Hall of Fame ceremonies in the middle of the day on a Wednesday while teams are playing games, technology should increase accessibility to watching baseball games and events and that’s not what’s happening. Compared to Fox’s coverage of the Field of Dreams game, which had commercials and fanfare oozing from every media platform, MLB’s promotion of the Hall of Fame was just absent. Even the current Rockies players, coaches, and staff couldn’t watch either because they also had to work.

Outside of a time shift, the Hall of Fame ceremony also needs an update. I get that Cooperstown is a sacred place. I hope one day I can go. There’s historic Doubleday Field. There’s the Hall of Fame itself. In non-pandemic times, there’s a parade. I know we are still in the middle of a pandemic and we’re lucky a ceremony could take place at all, but this ceremony needs some pizazz.

While the history of baseball might be traditional and stoic, it’s time to spice it up. Bernie Williams playing the national anthem on the guitar is a cool touch, but where are the fireworks? Where’s the celebration? Maybe there was all of that. Maybe I just missed it because I was relegated to watching clips on YouTube. I tried to watch the entire ceremony, but MLB.com has chopped it up into short segments on its website. MLB did upload the whole thing to YouTube, but I tried it all day Thursday and only saw a lovely message that says the page is unavailable (even though that unavailable page is still brought to you by MattressFirm, so at least MLB is still getting money for nothing).

Most of all, the ceremony just needs to be valued and showcased for what it is: an amazing tribute to the best players to ever step onto the field. Since the MLB HOF had its first ceremony in 1936, there have been 333 players join the HOF out of 22,535 players to ever make it to the big leagues. Note: There’s no way it’s a coincidence that No. 33 Larry Walker — a man obsessed with the number three as evident by his three practice swings before stepping into the box and was married on Nov. 3 at 3:33 p.m. just to name a few examples — is the 333rd played inducted. It’s why his induction was worth the wait and the way it was supposed to be.

The ceremony needs its own day with no other baseball games, or at the very least, it needs a prime-time spot after day games have concluded. It needs to be easy to watch for fans across multiple platforms all over North America and beyond. MLB needs to take notes from the NFL Hall of Fame ceremonies. When Bronco great Terrell Davis was inducted into the HOF in 2017, I could buy Terrell Davis BBQ sauce at King Soopers. I bought so much BBQ sauce! It might not seem like a big deal, but it was. There needs to be BBQ sauce, or in Larry’s case, maybe SpongeBob cereal. MLB and the Colorado Rockies needed to step up the marketing. The fanfare needs to extend beyond the crowd that can travel to New York.

On the national level, all the focus was on Derek Jeter. He was an elite player, but he was also a Yankee. Our world doesn’t treat New York and Denver the same, so Walker didn’t get the praise he should have, as noted by Locked on Rockies Podcast host Paul Holden. That’s why the Rockies and local businesses needed to step up and make it a huge deal – more than just advertising a bobblehead for Larry Walker weekend.

By the time I got home from class on Wednesday, I turned on the last few innings of the Rockies game. I feel like AT&T Sportsnet did as good of a job as they could, cutting away from the game to show Jenny Cavnar and Jeff Huson interviewing Walker in Cooperstown and clips from his HOF speech. Instead of covering the ceremony and all the festivities, they had to show the Rockies bullpen collapse again.

Rockies fans deserve more. Walker deserves more. Of course, the Rockies will have a ceremony for Walker Sept. 24-26 when they retire his number and that will be amazing. But why couldn’t both be showcased?

Just to end this rant on a high note, Larry’s speech was fantastic. He was funny and self-deprecating when he mentioned still learning the rules and finding out the hard way that you can run back to first from halfway to third after a fly ball is caught by cutting through the infield. He gave a shoutout to the only other Canadian Hall of Famer Fergie Jenkins. He radiated humility and gratitude in thanking coaches, teammates, his family, and fans in every city he played. He looked great and rocked a SpongeBob pin. He was inspiring with tales of hard work paying off for a guy that never played high school or collegiate baseball.

I am so grateful to Larry Walker. He’s the best player the Rockies could have to break the HOF barrier. He was the first and only Rockie to be an NL MVP. He was member of the first Rockies team to make the postseason. He made a crack in the armor of the “it’s just because it’s Coors Field” criticism. He made being a Rockies fan less hard work, which I really appreciate now more than ever.

★ ★ ★

Twenty-one notes on Larry Walker’s induction into the National Baseball Hall of Fame | The Athletic ($)

This is the kind of tribute Larry Walker deserves. Walker put up such incredible numbers that you could make this list 333 deep if you had the space or if any reader had the time and focus to read it. A few of the standouts are:

• Walt Weiss: “Greg Maddux could think with the game at a different level, the way he saw the game with his perspective. And Walker, for me, was Maddux on the position-player side. He just saw things on a different level than everybody else.”

• “His 72.7 career Wins Above Replacement (WAR), according to Baseball-Reference, ranks 57th in baseball’s history among position players and 12th among right fielders”

• Third best OPS+ among outfielders since 1970 141 (behind only Manny Ramirez’s 154 and Barry Bonds’ 182).

• A great comparison to Duke Snider

• Walker had better a better slugging percentage and OPS in his career on the road .495 and .865 than Derek Jeter had in his career: .440 and .817.

Cincy artist behind Walker’s HOF plaque | MLB.com

This is a really interesting piece by Thomas Harding on Tom Tsuchiya, the artist who studies players’ careers in their numbers and how they played and designs that into the plaque. There’s also a fascinating part on what it was like to cast that CR logo for the first time.

Welker had long journey to his 1st MLB start | MLB.com

It’s been a roller coaster year for Colton Welker. He went from being suspended for 80 games to making his first MLB start on Thursday night. The historic day saw Welker record his first hit, which just happened to be an RBI single. Then he got another hit in the ninth and ended up scoring the tying run when Ryan McMahon hit his clutch homer. Even better, Welker’s family and friends were in the stands at Citizens Bank Park.

★ ★ ★

On the farm

Triple-A: Game 1: Albuquerque Isotopes 7, El Paso Chihuahuas 6

In game one, which was a continuation of a game that started on July 6 but was stopped due to rain after four innings and picked back up two months later, Elehuris Montero hit a walk-off homer in the bottom of the seventh to cap an Albuquerque rally that overcame a 6-3 deficit. Montero also hit an RBI double in the fifth inning to go 2-for-2 in his first game at Rio Grande Credit Union Field. Alan Trejo and Ryan Vilade each hit RBI singles in the sixth. Justin Lawrence threw a scoreless ninth with three strikeouts to get the win and moved to 3-0 on the season with the Isotopes.

Game 2: El Paso Chihuahuas 8, Albuquerque Isotopes 5

Alan Trejo came up a single shy of the cycle and scored three runs and Joshua Fuentes hit an RBI double in the bottom of the seventh as Albuquerque tried to come back again, but the attempt came up short. Ryan Castellani (3-10, 6.86 ERA) took the loss after giving up four runs on six hits with five walks and six strikeouts in 4 1/3 innings. Zac Rosscup and Tate Scioneaux didn’t fare much better with each giving up two runs in appearances that didn’t last a full inning.

Double-A: Somerset Patriots vs. Hartford Yard Goats, postponed (rain)

Thursday’s game was rained out and will now be part of a doubleheader on Saturday. Up first, Peter Lambert will make his second start for Hartford on Friday in his comeback from Tommy John surgery. He pitched 2 2/3 innings on Sept. 5 and gave up one run on one hit with five strikeouts and three HBP.

High-A: Vancouver Canadians 14, Spokane Indians 5

Chris McMahon had a rough start after giving up four runs in four innings, but then Moises Ceja did even worse in the next three innings, surrendering nine runs on nine hits in three innings. On the offensive side, Grant Lavigne had two hits and drove in three runs, Ezequiel Tovar had two RBI, one hit, and scored one run, and Isaac Collins scored two runs and posted one hit. With the loss, Spokane remains in second place behind Eugene in the High-A West division.

Low-A: Fresno Grizzlies @ Modesto Nuts: PPD

For the second straight night, the Grizzlies-Nuts game was postponed to COVID testing and contact tracing policies centered around Modesto.

★ ★ ★

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