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Switch Hitters

Mike Olson Avatar
May 27, 2022

“If you believe you can, you probably can. If you believe you won’t, you most assuredly won’t. Belief is the ignition switch that gets you off the launching pad.”

– Denis Waitley

It feels like a switch inside us sometimes, doesn’t it? Whether emotional, mental, or physical, most each of remembers a moment when something fell into place for us, and that switch was flipped. Whether it was learning a new skill, deciding to do something brave, or even choosing to start or end something momentous, we can point to a moment that something just went…


Those feelings aren’t just feelings, either. As humans, we are ultimately adaptable to things both wonderful and horrible. The denizens of Dead Horse Bay outside New York City famously lost their senses of smell when forced to live next to one of the most foul-smelling glue factories in the world a hundred years or so ago. The stench was so foul, everyone’s olfactory nerves just said, “NOPE”. When folks would move away? They’d shortly switch back on. The nose knows.

And it’s not just your schnoz, either. In an oft-repeated study first performed in the 1800’s, people have been tasked with wearing upside-down goggles. The psychologist who first tried it decided that if your eyeballs were already seeing things upside down (they do), then your brain had already learned in your early youth to flip the image right-side up. He wore them three days before the his brain had “corrected” what he saw. When he took them off? His re-adjustment took mere hours. We can get our bodies to adjust to damned near anything.

Excepting possibly hitting a baseball both inside and outside of Coors Field.

In what is proving to be one of the most challenging feats known to humankind, the Colorado Rockies find themselves in the midst of yet another home-and-away nightmare for the 2022 season. When the Rox hit the road, their bats drop a walloping 50 points, from a respectable .283 to a depressing .233. It’s little wonder that their half-decent 14-11 home record gives way to a 6-12 (.333) road rash. That yet again has Colorado in fifth place of five in the NL West, with one of the worst road averages in the majors.

It would be one thing if this were an outlier, but the road has always been the switch the Rockies have never found a way to flip.

In the 30 seasons the Rockies have taken the field, they have found their way to the postseason five times. In that same history, they have had only three seasons that saw them above .500 on the road; 2009, 2017, and 2018. Each of those seasons saw Colorado playing in the postseason, and the other two trips – 1995 and 2007 – saw .458 and .481 averages carrying them into their first postseason and a forever-memorable Rocktober.

Digging even deeper into the numbers, this wasn’t just something the teams haven’t been able to crack on the whole. The great Todd Helton saw a 47-point dip in his career road batting average. Larry Walker? 60 points down, home-vs-away. Nolan Arenado? 46. Tulo? 47. And on. And on.

Even the best batters to come through Colorado have struggled mightily to find a way to take away the temptations and tribulations of Denver’s paper-thin air. While a humidor might dampen how far a ball can fly, and this year’s baseballs seem to take that even further, nothing yet has shifted how hard a pitch can spin or curve when there’s simply less air to hang onto. Going back and forth between altitude and a better barometer seems to throw every last person who tries to flip that switch. Is there a solution to level that plane, or are we relegated to this tease until the end of time.

If the Rockies cannot solve this puzzle, nothing is ever going to switch.


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