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The Colorado Rockies look like they are headed in the right direction.
For those who have been reading Rockies Review for a long time, that may come as a surprise. Less than a year ago, the Rockies franchise was one of the worst in all of sports. It was a complete mess. They had an owner who was meddling in the on-field product too much, a general manager who was making excuses, and an assistant general manager who was blinded by power.
The ship was missing it’s rudder and the men in charge were mocking anyone who told them that they were in danger. Even the slightest criticism came with an excuse and a scathing rebuttal. The following of the Rockies required cult-like dedication. It seemed like there was no hope, as owner Dick Monfort ignored the on-field results and continued to talk about O’Dowd as if he was the best baseball mind that had ever existed.
Somehow, as the season wound down, O’Dowd and Geivett may have finally worn out their welcome. Monfort pulled the trigger and decided it was time for a change. However, less than an hour after the announcement, the Rockies had already found a replacement, and he wasn’t from outside the organization.
The Rockies were sharply criticized. Jeff Bridich, the new general manager, bumbled and stumbled through his introductory press conference. The media had a field day. The idea that Bridich would be a clone of O’Dowd was the prevailing thought. Frankly, Rockies fans and the media had every right to be skeptical. The organization had closed it’s eyes and ears to the outside world and insisted that they knew what was best, even though they had continuously failed.
While the Rockies still have a really long way to go, something is clear, the Rockies are playing differently. The results might not be where they need to be, or even close, but the first step has been taken.
The 10-game home stand that the Rockies just finished up is full of good examples of this team playing differently. On Wednesday a week ago the Rockies came out to face a Dodgers team that had just embarrassed them, scoring three runs in the 9th inning to stun a team that was one pitch away from victory. Instead of rolling over, the Rockies came out the next night and played hard. They eventually flipped the script and put together a comeback of their own, scoring three 9th inning runs to walk-off with the victory.
On Tuesday night the Rockies battled toe-to-toe with the Cardinals. The Redbirds had ace Michael Wacha on the mound facing Jorge De La Rosa. It was a true David vs. Goliath game. The Rockies didn’t play like they were supposed to lose. They played like they believed that they could win the game. They played like they could beat Wacha. The grinded out at-bats and eventually won the game.
It is hard to suggest that a team that is sitting firmly near the basement of their division is headed in the right direction. Just a third of the way through the season the Rockies have had their fair share of struggles. A losing streak that reached 11 games plagued their May. However, even the way the team reacted to that streak points to steps in the right direction.
This Rockies team hasn’t quit. They haven’t given up. Even during their losing streak, it didn’t seem like they felt like they didn’t have a chance to win each game. Their offense wasn’t good at all and their starting pitching, minus a few strong outings, was very bad. However, they still fought.
Something that Rockies fans should cling to is the club’s early success on the road. The team heads to Miami for a four-game set against the Marlins and a quick two-day stop in Houston. Heading into the trip the Rockies hold a 14-13 record away from Coors Field. Consider that the Rockies won just 21 games on the road in 2014 and there is no denying that something is different about these Rockies.
The reality is, the excuses simply haven’t been there. There is no one saying after games that the altitude is having an effect. No one is blaming Coors Field. Despite a run of terrible unseasonable weather, no one has talked about the cold and wet being a factor in the Rockies poor home record. A year ago, it would have been an hourly topic about how effected the Rockies were by the weather. The attitude was as much ‘poor us’ as it gets.
They may not be anywhere near where they need to be if they want to play in October, but something is clear. The attitude and mindset has shifted in the 2015 Rockies. The changes that were made in the front office may have seemed subtle, but they have begun the long journey of shifting the culture that has permeated the clubhouse in recent years.
The Rockies seem to be on the right path. That is something that the long-suffering Rockies fans can get excited about.