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Here we go again.
The Colorado Rockies suddenly can’t win on the road again. It is a common story for anyone who has paid attention to the club for any amount of time. In 2014, the Rockies won just 24 games away from Coors Field. The trips to California are notoriously bad, and small losing streaks often snowball into crippling, horrific trips.
Since the beginning, the Rockies have been awful on the road. No one can seem to get a grasp on why. However, listen to some of what the broadcasters say and it might give an idea to the mindset that is present within the club.
On Monday morning Drew Goodman, the Rockies play-by-play man joined 104.3 The Fan’s morning show to talk about the Rockies woes. He mentioned that the team had to be excited about coming home where they could shake the terrible road trip and get back to where they are comfortable.
Jerry Schemmel, the Rockies phenomenal radio man for 850 KOA talked about the comforts of Coors Field during the pregame show before the Rockies were rained out on Monday. While he discussed the Diamondbacks also succeeding at Coors Field, he talked about the comforts of the Rockies playing at Coors Field.
Both men are absolutely spot-on. Their analysis gives great insight to what the team might actually be thinking in the clubhouse, on the team bus and in the team hotel. If the broadcasters are relaying that type of information, it probably speaks to something that is going on within the clubhouse walls.
Now there is nothing inherently wrong with wanting to come home. However, it might be revealing about something that is going on. Maybe the Rockies start losing on the road, like they did in Arizona, then they head to San Diego hoping things will be different. However, the first game in San Diego doesn’t go well and the Rockies are in need of winning the next two in order to take the series.
At that point in time, with a 1-3 record on the road trip, two games to go and facing James Shields in the finale, a team has to bear down and make a decision. If they want to salvage the trip they are going to have to be mentally tough and go out and find a way to win two games. However, the easy answer, and one that seems to be happening often, is for the Rockies to mentally write off the remaining part of the road trip.
What if the Rockies, after their loss on Friday night, starting thinking about how nice it will be to be back at Coors Field, where they can play the type of baseball that they like and are built for? What if they simply start going through the motions, even subconsciously, giving up breaking out of their slump on the road and simply hoping for better results at home?
One of the most commonly used cliches in sports is the old saying “we just need to take it one day at a time.” While the saying is overused, it is absolutely something that is important in baseball. If a a player or a team starts thinking about their past successes or failures, or starts to think about an upcoming pitching matchup or series, they will lose their focus on the game that they have to play that day, or the next day.
It might not sound like a huge deal if a team mails it in once or twice, but what if the Rockies are doing this on nearly every road trip? What if instead of the final two games of a road trip, the team has a bad game or two and starts to let the road trip get to their heads when they still have six or seven games left on the trip. That could explain the trips in recent years where the Rockies return home after going 2-7 or 1-8 on a trip.
The Rockies undoubtedly face a challenge unlike any other teams in Major League Baseball. The effect of the altitude is hard to deny. While some of the effects might be overblown, there is a quarter century of Major League Baseball that suggests playing 81 games at a mile above sea level makes it difficult to play at lower elevations. However, the biggest hurdle might be the mental one that comes along with it.
The reality is, the Rockies might have a hurdle to overcome with the altitude. However, a winning baseball team finds ways to fight through adversity. They might face some difficult times along the way, but good teams find ways to overcome it.
The Rockies, after all of the years of losing and being led by a regime that made excuses, might need time to allow the losing mindset to work it’s way out of the club. Excuses permeate a team from the top down. New general manager Jeff Bridich seems intent on weeding those excuses out and focusing on good baseball, but that task won’t be accomplished overnight.
The reality for Rockies fans is that it might take several years for the team to completely weed out the losing mindset that has been a huge part of the fabric of the franchise for the final years of the Dan O’Dowd regime.