The clock is ticking ever faster. As the owner-initiated lockout of Major League Baseball enters it’s third month, the league and the MLBPA remain unfortunately very far apart. Some progress has been made, but it’s been inches at a time rather than the miles we need. Pitchers and catchers are scheduled to report in less than two weeks while spring training is set to start shortly after. We’re looking at the very real possibility of both spring training and the 2022 season being delayed.
The gates to Coors Field will be locked tight and no Colorado Rockies baseball will be played a mile high until a new CBA can be ratified. So what is a Rockies fan to do? Well my dear reader, I have good news and bad news. The bad news is that I can’t make the lockout end or the two sides come to an agreement. The good news is that you will have plenty of methods to get your spring baseball or sports fix in the coming months. Let’s explore the options.
Minor League Baseball
For better or for worse, Minor League Baseball is not part of the MLBPA or the CBA. This leaves them in the clear to start their spring training and season on time with players signed to minor league contracts and not currently on a 40-man roster. Due to last year’s contraction of the minor leagues Colorado is no longer home to any minor league teams, so if you live in Colorado you won’t be able to see games in person without travelling. However, you can watch three of the Rockies’ four minor league affiliates with a $10 subscription to MiLB.tv: the Fresno Grizzlies (Low-A), the Hartford Yard Goats (Double-A), and the Albuquerque Isotopes (Triple-A). There are also tons of other participating teams across the four levels, so if you don’t want to watch a Rockies affiliate you have plenty of options. This is a great way to keep up with prospects both in the Rockies organization and across the league!
Looking for something a little less... mainstream? Independent baseball has you spoiled for choice, you baseball hipster! In the United States there are 66 teams across seven different leagues! Colorado alone will have five different independent teams in the 2022 season, three of which are in the MLB-partnered Pioneer League. The Grand Junction Rockies (Grand Junction), the Rocky Mountain Vibes (Colorado Springs), and the Northern Colorado Owlz (Windsor) are all members of the Pioneer League and well worth a trip if you’re willing to make a day of it. You can also watch the games online through the PBL Network. The two other independent teams in Colorado are the Trinidad Triggers (Trinidad) and the Colorado Springs Snow Sox (Colorado Springs), both of which are members of the unaffiliated Pecos League.
The NCAA baseball season starts on February 18th, so if you need your baseball fix sooner rather than later this is your best bet. Colorado is home to many college baseball programs, but the majority of them are NCAA Division II or are JuCo programs. Colorado is home to just two NCAA Division I baseball programs: the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley, and the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs. Much to my own chagrin, the University of Colorado in Boulder is the only school in the PAC-12 without a baseball or softball program. That’s not to say that the DII or JuCo programs aren’t worth your time, though — the DII program at Colorado School of Mines is a favorite of Ryan Spilborghs!
What makes college baseball great is the accessibility. It’s far more common to find on TV, and there are plenty of baseball programs to follow. You could choose a team in your state, or even your alma mater if they have a program. You could pick the college team of your favorite Rockies player, like Charlie Blackmon’s Georgia Tech or Todd Helton’s Tennessee. You could even throw a dart at a map and pick the team where it lands.
Sports that are not baseball
You better sit down... I don’t know how to tell you this, but sports exist that are not baseball. Several of them, in fact. At the time when the MLB season is usually beginning, the NHL and NBA are entering their home stretch. March Madness fast approaches. There’s even going to be nationally televised spring football this year in the newly revived United States Football League. Colorado sports fans are honestly spoiled with multiple sports franchises that provide fantastic experiences. If you like hockey then the Colorado Avalanche are currently one of the best teams in the NHL and recently had a near-record 18 consecutive home wins. Their AHL affiliate in the Colorado Eagles are fun to watch as well. If you like professional basketball, the Denver Nuggets have the reigning MVP and best players in the league with Nikola Jokić. The Colorado Rapids Major League Soccer team had one of their best ever seasons in 2021 with their first ever conference win, and they are looking to build on that success.
No matter how frustrating it may be to potentially lose games in the major league season, there are at least other options for both baseball and sports in general. All we can do as fans is buckle up and find enjoyment where possible until the lockout ends. At the very least, you have plenty of options.
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Jeff Francis elected to the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame | Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum
Vancouver born lefty pitcher Jeff Francis has been elected to the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame! Francis spent eight seasons with the Colorado Rockies, where he was a key contributor during Rocktober. Francis was praised as “one of the greatest left-handed pitchers to come from Canada” by CBHoF chair Jeremy Diamond. We here at Purple Row offer Jeff Francis our heartfelt congratulations on an amazing achievement!
As the Rockies approach 30 seasons in the Mile High City, it never hurts to look back at history. Unfortunately, Noah Yingling at Rox Pile is exploring an unpleasant bit of history by going through some of the worst contracts signed in Rockies history. I’m willing to bet you’ll recognize the names.
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