Sunday, July 20, 2008

Photo Day Redux

As with last year, we went to Photo Day again this year, and while it was again very fun, the presence of all the bandwagoners who hopped on after 21 Days meant that there were a lot more people there and we had a lot less time for actual conversations -- just chitchat. Also unlike last year, there was a definite sense of urgency for the players to get through all the crowds, instead of ambling along and taking their time like they were on June 2, 2007. But July 19, 2008 wasn't at all bad. We got photos of one or more of us with 15 of the guys, hitting up everyone we wanted and then some. Unfortunately, Greg Reynolds got demoted to AAA and Tulo was off on his most recent rehab assignment (enough with the injuries, bucko....) otherwise we would have gotten them too. But we DID get Atkins, Baker, Barmes, Buchholz, Cook, Corpas, Hawpe, Helton, Holliday, Iannetta, Jimenez, Smith, Spilborghs, Stewart, and Quintanilla, which I think you'll agree is not a bad haul. Also, as they did last year, the Rockies won the actual game 7-1, thanks to two RBIs each from Atkins and Quintanilla, along with sundry contributions from Torrealba (!) Hawpe, and Stewart. Not to be forgotten was Scott Podsednik's 4-for-5, 3-double night, which of course failed to win him another start today. It didn't matter, as the Rockies shockingly won 11-3 to finish off the four-game sweep of the Pirates. Winning at home has never been a problem for them, as they improved to 29-21 at Coors, but the road is still their Achilles heel. I'll believe that they can contend in the mild, mild West (still a possibility due to it turning back into the Worst) once they win more than one game on the road.

Anyway, about the pics. Various amusing commentary encapsulated beneath.

Me and Atkins. We didn't have much time to chat with Atkins, since he had to move along and is generally not the world's most talkative guy as is. But he did say, "No problem," when I told him thanks. Also, something that strikes me every year is that Atkins is a very large fellow. No seriously, he is.

That is technically my sister Gillian, Bake, and me, but thanks to my older sister's camera-challenged ways, Gillian got her head cut off. She is absolutely clucking about this, since she loves Bake and really wanted this picture to turn out well. I am starting to see her point. He is the world's nicest guy. He ambled up to us, went, "Hey guys, what's up?" and promptly put his arms around both of us. I put my arm around him too. Hey, he liked it. He gave us a big grin afterwards. Too bad we didn't get to chat with him the way we did last year, but at least he didn't ground into three double plays the way he did last year.

My sister Darcy and I with Barmes. You can't exactly see his face, thanks to the shadows, but it's actually him, not Yorvit in a mask. (Yorvit was kinda tagging along on Iannetta's coattails, doing the double-catcher picture thing. We only got Chris, not Yorvit).

Gillian, Bucky, and me. Bucky is so cute. I told him, "You're doing very well this year," (1.79 ERA, I think so) and Bucky, looking genuinely surprised and pleased, answered, "Oh! Thank you! Thank you so much!" as if it hadn't ever occurred to him. We were doing the typical sister-banter thing in front of him, which was making him laugh, and Gillian said, "Can you tell we're sisters?" Bucky just grinned and shrugged. Cute little lemur that he is.

Gillian, Cookie, and me. Cookie's mouth is open because he was probably in the middle of making smart remarks about our shoes. It was crowded all day, so getting near the guys required a lot of finesse maneuvering, and as we squeezed in for our turn to take a pic with Cook, he looked at our flip-flop-shod feet and remarked, "You know, if you wore real shoes, you wouldn't have to worry about people stepping on your feet." I shrugged. "Oh well, it's hot." (Must have been at least 100 in the sun). "I know," Cookie responded with a grin. Another very friendly and nice guy, although we again didn't have time to talk with him the way I did last year.

Gillian, Brad, Darcy, and me. I think this is a cute picture, and Brad himself is of course as adorable as ever. The lady behind me with the water bottle was prowling around looking for people who might be stepping on the grass.

This year's Todd shot! I love Todd. I brought this picture from last year to show him, and he looked at it and said, "Oh, awesome!" Then, of course, we needed this year's version of the Toddhug, which we got.

Me, Matt, Darcy, and Gillian. Notice two things: 1) That Matt is resting his Gatorade bottle on my shoulder, and 2) The baby just beyond Gillian's shoulder. Once we had gotten our Matt pic, her dad handed her to Matt for a shot, and Matt held her gingerly in both enormous hands, making a funny face as if afraid he would drop her or she would start crying. It was amusing. Since there was such a big bottleneck around Matt, I don't think he moved the entire time.

Darcy, Iannetta, and I. Iannetta is, as always, very quiet and serious, methodically going along the line and applying his superior brain to the difficult task of Photo Day.

Someone scanned this picture crookedly. Gillian, U-ball, and me. No, Uball is not as scared of us as he looks. And no, my head is not on his shoulder.

Another very crookedly scanned photo, this one of me and last year's stretch-run hero Seth Smith. Who is looking kinda hot in that scruff.

Spilly! And us. Gillian was wearing her fringed/specially modified Everyday is a Holliday shirt, which she has cut up in strips, and Spilly took one look at it and said, "Hey, that's a cool shirt!" Since most people think this modification is odd, Gillian has taken it as one more indication that she and Ryan are soul mates. (I kid). I also got to tell him that I liked his tattoo. Spilly is the man and he needs to come back soon. I'm just happy that he was there.

Me and a camera-locating-challenged Stewie, who is looking the wrong way. Although he did kind of stare at me beforehand and then caress my neck during the photo (although not in a creepy way). So that was nice. He's not bad looking in person. Actually kind of cute. That is the case with most of them.

That does it for my pics. There are others with my sisters in them, but above is a fairly nice sample of what we got. It was a fun game, we got to semi-hang out with them, and screw the crowds. Damn bandwagoners. We were there last year before it was cool to be a Rockies fan. Mwah. Also, I’m glad that the Rockies are still enough of a small-market team to be able to do cool things like this (although it was a little zooey). Can you imagine the Red Sox, Yankees, Cubs, or Mets (all of whom I hate virulently with the exception of the Mets) trying to do something like that? Eh, yeah. Pandemonium.

Kip Wells vs. Eric Stults tomorrow. This is probably not going to end well.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Fireworks and the Fourth II, Very Late

Yes, I know the Fourth of July was a week ago, but at the rate I'm going, you should feel lucky that I even got around to it at all. Like last summer, I'm working close to full-time at Starbucks, worrying about whether I will ever get a raise (my last paycheck actually showed some improvement in my generally dire financial straits) and how in the hell I will ever afford Oxford this fall. I can't believe I'll be starting my junior year soon, and that I will be overseas for a year, but these are topics for another post, on my other blog. Click on my name if you're that curious.

In any case, my sister and I again decided to go to the Rockies' July 4th fireworks game since we had so much fun last year. (Click here to have the full report from 2007's fiesta. I see that I was only three days late that year, not seven). We also decided to get the tickets where you can legitimately get on the field, since last year we heard from a helpful friend that sections 148-160 got to go down onto the actual field for the fireworks. Of course, we had tickets in section 146, so we had to pull off a little subterfuge to get it to work, and it did. Well, not so this year. We purchased a pair of heinously overpriced single tickets in the left-field bleachers, sections 151 and 153 respectively, but had little to no intention of actually adhering to these inconvenient arrangements. When we got to the stadium late on a very hot July afternoon, Rockies hats and sunglasses doing their best to keep it out, we just decided that we'd keep moving around in the undoubtedly overcrowded bleachers until we found a pair of seats together. The Rockies were playing the Marlins, instead of the Mets as they were last year, and the pitching matchup was Greg Reynolds vs. the felon, Scott Olsen. As mentioned, we made it to Reynolds' first win, but he does have a tendency to be... mercurial. (That tendency would show up indisputably in a few hours).

I was wearing my Rockies NL Champs shirt, which, for a shirt with such good memories, has managed to serve as a lightning rod of bad luck for the purple-and-black poltroons. (Or maybe that's their own incompetence, not my clothing choices). I had decided to wear it since I didn't want to wear my Hawpe shirt again and my Atkins shirt needed to be washed, and clearly I was going to have to express my allegiances somehow aside from just my Tulo and Francis-autographed hat. (Not my other Rockies hat, which is signed by Atkins, Cook, Hirsh, Carroll, and Iannetta, but another hat, which I took along to the Mets game on June 20. The Rockies lost, but as mentioned, Tulo and Francis signed my hat and it was Tulo's first game back, so everyone gave him a huge cheer and the 'Tulo!' chant when he came up. He hit two weak ground balls, a liner right at David Wright, and got robbed of extra bases by Endy Chavez, who has a knack for doing that. Cook sucked. Jeff Baker hit a two-run homer in the bottom of the first and it went downhill from there -- the final score was 7-2 Mets. That was the second game I got to this season). But the third was the fireworks game, the Fourth, and I knew that I was taking chances by wearing such a jinxed piece of apparel. I decided that if the Rockies lost, I wasn't wearing the Champs shirt again until the offseason, where it would probably cause Dan O'Dowd to trade Holliday for a package of Double-A pitching prospects.

Gillian and I knocked around the stadium, said hello to our sister who works at the Diamond Dry Goods store, briefly reconnoitered with a fellow Purple Row poster and discussed chucking pieces of gum at George Frazier (who was sitting right above us doing the pregame show) then went into Section 151 and laid claim to one of the seats to which we were entitled. We sat there, enjoying the sunshine, until the game started. To which, I have to say, we did not enjoy very much. At least to start with.

Greg Reynolds left a sinkerball over the middle of the plate on his very first pitch of the game, and Marlins leadoff hitter/shortstop Hanley Ramirez hit it approximately 400 feet for a quick 1-0 Fish lead. This, however, did not settle Reynolds down, and by the time the inning ended, the Rockies were already behind 5-0. Pre-emptively, I blamed the unlucky shirt. But what the hell, there were still eight innings to go and it was a nice night. Aside from Reynolds' inability to pitch.

Fortunately, Scott Olsen wasted no time in proving that he wanted a bite of the fail pie, as doubles by Spilborghs and Barmes made it 5-1. Unfortunately, that was all the Rockies got in the bottom of the first, and by the time the top of the second was over, Reynolds had already been pulled with the Marlins' lead stretched to 7-1. But the Rockies weren't done scoring by a long shot. They added two runs in the bottom of the second when Spilly and Barmes struck back with a pair of RBI singles, and once they scored in the bottom of the third on a Baker RBI groundout, the lead had been cut to 7-4 and a comeback was starting to look manageable. Weirdly enough, however, when it was 7-1, I just had a funny feeling that it was someone else's turn to fail, and that maybe, maybe, no matter how improbable it sounded, we might win this one. I figured it would take a miracle. I was right, as it turned out later.

The Marlins, it seemed, had other ideas. Aided by a giant helping of fail from Cedrick Bowers and Luis "Should Pay Carbon Points For Taking Up Space" Vizcaino, they piled on six runs in an agonizing top of the fourth to push the deficit all the way back to 13-4. Gillian and I groaned and wondered how we were ever going to sit through this in time to get to the fireworks at the end. In the meantime, we were still playing seat roulette, moving from place to place in the bleachers as those who originally had claim to the seats came back and booted us. At one point right about now, it is worth noting that the woman sitting behind me tapped me on the shoulder and said, "Do you go to school in New York?" Surprised, I said, "Yes." She said, "Do you remember sitting next to me in Shea Stadium?" Even more surprised, I said, "Oh my God, I do!"

In another of my baseball escapades which naturally failed to get blogged about, I went to four or five Mets games this April while I was finishing up my sophomore year. At one of them, which I think was April 16 against the Nationals, my friend Mary and I ended up sitting in the upper deck next to, I swear, the only other Rockies fan in the place. She said she was out from Denver for the weekend, and since she actually didn't know that much about baseball, I spent the entire game educating her on the finer points of the best sport in the world. It was one of those remarkable coincidences that make you think, "Wow, small world," when, three months and 1600 miles later, she happened to be sitting one row behind me in the left-field bleachers at Coors. At least until Gillian and I moved again.

The Rockies, defying all our gloomy predictions that they were now certain to pack it in and try to speed through the rest of the game as fast as possible to at least get to the fireworks, instead showcased a remarkable resilience that hasn't exactly been their hallmark this season. After they inched to within 13-5 in the bottom of the fourth thanks to a monster concourse shot from Spilly, they exploded for four runs of their own in the bottom of the fifth. Holliday led off with a laser line drive of a homer, Atkins singled, Jeff Baker doubled, and after Hawpe and Tulo both grounded out, it was left up to Iannetta to deliver. Boy, did he ever. He hit one of the most mammoth homers I've ever seen in my life, another concourse shot, a three-run bomb that would have left Coors completely if the Toyota sign hadn't been in the way. This made it 13-9, the Marlins doing a marvelous job of squandering what had looked like a pretty ironclad lead. Gillian and I joked that the Fish were leaving in Olsen since they couldn't imagine the Rockies would actually clamber all the way back from a nine-run hole -- "He's not gonna give up thirteen runs, leave 'im out there!" (Imagine this said in stereotypical Bronx gangster accent with a lot of giggling. Hey, we had to amuse ourselves somehow).

The Marlins were uncomfortable with this turn of events, especially after Spilly hit his second homer of the game in the bottom of the sixth to bring the Rockies just three runs shy. After Barmes hit another double, Atkins had a long at-bat, fouling off a lot of pitches before he unloaded on one into the left-field seats -- coincidentally, just a few rows shy of us after Gillian had asked him to hit it to us. It was now 13-12 (Olsen was by now out of the game, but his replacement, Tankersley, wasn't faring much better) and a comeback was looking very feasible. The Marlins, I imagine, scrambled around the dugout looking for the panic button.

In any case, they decided that the best thing to do about it was to score more runs of their own. Jason "Gas Can" Grilli went badly to hell in the top of the seventh, as an intentional walk predictably backfired when Cody Ross lashed a bases-loaded single to score two and push the Fish advantage back to three again. (For the record, Cody Ross was an absolute monster for the series: 12-20, 15 RBI. Uh, if the Marlins want Yorvit, we'll take that guy. Spilly can start the road games and Ross can start at Coors). But that wasn't the extent of the damage, as although the Rockies managed to get two outs, old foe Luis Gonzalez tormented them again with another two-run single. By the time the top of the seventh was finally over, the Marlins' lead was 17-12 and the Rockies were really going to need to get the comeback mojo going.

They did, astonishingly enough. Quintanilla led off the bottom of the seventh with a double, and Spilly was intentionally-unintentionally walked. (Tulo was pulled in a double switch, and, as we found out later, wasn't too happy about it. In fact, he slammed a bat, lacerated his hand, had to get stitches, and ended up on the DL again... idiot). After Barmes walked as well, the bases were loaded with no outs, Coors was really starting to get into it, and Holliday was at the plate. Gillian and I, along with everyone else, were making a LOT of noise. In fact, I was already starting to lose my voice in the seventh, but I didn't really care.

Holliday went to a full count. I told him to do something good, since Coors was waiting for a chance to really explode, and boy, did he ever. He hit a rocket to center field that had the place going ape, he knew it was gone and punched his fists in the air as soon as he hit it, and he was right. 17-16, and the improbability continued. Atkins hit a single, but three straight strikeouts by Baker, Iannetta, and Hawpe ensured that the deficit stayed at one run. Neither team scored in the eighth (the first time all game that the Rockies hadn't scored at least one run in an inning) and after a nine-pitch inning by Bucky to get to the bottom of the ninth, the Marlins had completely exhausted their pen and had no chance but to put in Kevin Gregg, who had blown it the previous night (Spilly hit a two-run walkoff single in the bottom of the eleventh). All of Coors was on its feet and you had the sense it wasn't so much as if it was going to happen, but rather, how it was going to happen. Everyone was yelling, really keeping the energy level and the pressure up, and when Barmes started off the ninth by shooting a single into LF, you kinda felt it was actually going to happen. It was a pretty amazing feeling.

Holliday hit a flare that dropped, and Atkins hit a rocket into center field to tie the game at 17. Everyone was really losing it, and it felt like I imagine some of the Rocktober games last year must have. (Grr at missing those, but this almost made it up). After Bake hit a ball that looked like it might be two, Ramirez dropped the throw at second and everyone was safe -- bases loaded, still no out, and Iannetta at the plate. He delivered on the second pitch, grounding a bleeder past a diving Ramirez and into left field to bring the winning run home, and Coors really DID go nuts. Gillian and I leapt up and down, screamed ourselves hoarse some more, and high-fived everyone in sight. 18-17 win, Broncos over Dolphins. Go figure.

And that, of course, was even before the fireworks, which at one point looked as if they were going to have to be the main attraction. As it did last year, it took a long-ass time to get down on the field -- the game had gone four hours, and it was 45 minutes after it ended by the time Gillian and I finally stepped out onto the warning track beneath the lights, took off our sandals, and walked along happily on the damp dirt. Then we filed into the same place as last year, left field, not too far away from Holliday's little tornado of sunflower-seed shells, and collected both a few of those and some blades of grass. We did little dances on the grass barefoot, just for the hell of it, then lay down, thoroughly enjoyed ourselves, and just like last year, enjoyed it as the lights went out, we lay in the dark stadium, and fireworks exploded overhead. It was a pretty damn good show, if I say so myself.

This will likely be the last blog post until next Saturday, July 19th, which is something else I am very much looking forward to repeating -- Photo Day. (My biggest concern is that since Tulo, Todd, and Spilly are all hurt -- argh -- they won't be there. That would be ruinous. I'll just plan for that not to be the case). In any case, Holliday ended up being the starting right fielder for the NL in the All-Star Game since Soriano got hurt. But since Clint Hurdle is managing and there is little to no hope of ending AL domination, I wonder if I'll even watch the damn thing. The Rockies are in New York right now to close out their first half, and their record currently stands at a thoroughly underwhelming 39-54. But due to the NL West turning back into the NL Worst, and the Diamondbacks being a long, long way from the SuperTeam they were originally pegged as due to their scorching April, the Rox are still only seven games out. Still. When Glendon Rusch, Jorge de la Rosa, and Mark Redman are three-fifths of your rotation (dear god, I wish I was joking.... Cook and Jimenez are the other two, Francis is hurt, Morales got broken by our genius pitching coaches, Hirsh is struggling, and Reynolds got demoted) it's pretty hard to envision this team being taken seriously even in a joke of a division. I guess I'll have to be content with them winning 40 by the break, and since they're on the road, this will always be something of a challenge.

0-0 at the middle of the second. Aaron Cook vs. Oliver Perez. Go Rockies? Well, I've made it this far with them, even if they generally give me coronaries. Also, fire Hurdle and Apodaca. Plzthx.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

A Comeback and a Coors Return

At last, something worth reporting. I did finally make it back to Coors for a game last night for the first time in about 10 months (or 9 months give or take a week or two). My last game in person was August 24, my birthday, against the Nats, and then a whole lot of stuff happened. A lot of it was amazing and thrilling (21 Days, the Rockies' run to the pennant) and a lot of it was atrocious and terrible (the World Series, most of 2008 in general). However, the crap took a reprieve last night, and I actually enjoyed myself thoroughly. This after I had to stop watching their games during the latest incarnation of the Road Trip from Hell, this one a 2-8 swing through Philadelphia, Chicago, and LA. Some of the lowlights on this trip involved being blown out 20-5 by the Phillies and blowing a 9-1 lead against the Cubs (yes, 9-1. And that's the last I will say about that. Repress, ye all, repress). I kind of had a feeling before the trip started that it was going to be a disaster, and was unfortunately right. At least they managed to win the last two games against LA, and coming home, actually managed to pull off a stirring comeback against the Brewers, who had won 9 of 10 coming in. Down 4-1 in the eighth, the Rockies actually resembled themselves from last year and strung together a five-run rally. Highlighted with a Todd double, an Atkins two-run triple, and the big blow, a Hawpe two-run homer (and off a lefty) they managed to win 6-4. (Fuentes didn't actually blow it. Amazing, I know).

(I feel obliged to mention that of course as soon as I start writing good things about them, Francis goes back to sucking and is currently in a 1-0 hole in the first with one out, a guy on second, and a 3-0 count on Prince Fielder. Actually, scratch that, he just walked Fielder. Never MIND).

Anyway, at least last night was fun. They were giving out Tulo bobbleheads, and my sister and I met up with my friend Nikki and her mom to enjoy the game from sect. 148, in pretty much exactly the same seats we purloined when we snuck down to the field last July 4th. We watched Greg Reynolds secure both his first major league victory (4 hits, 2 runs in 6 innings, attakid) and major league hit (a double down the right-field line. He was IMMEDIATELY erased when Willy T, failing as usual, popped into a double play, but the effort was nice. He also got a shaving cream pie to the face later, but we missed that part). Meanwhile, Hawpe, who just got back from an injury rehab assignment, blasted a grand slam in the first inning, followed one pitch later by a monster Iannetta homer. In the fifth inning, Ian Stewart hit a ball to Boulder (actually, the third deck) for his second big-league homer, and despite the fact that I absolutely freaked the fuck out when it happened, Jorge de la Rosa did not blow it in the seventh. Nor did Jason Grilli in the eighth. (Yes, I swear, these are the kinds of "relief" we have in the pen right now). What was fun was that Taylor Buchholz got to pitch the ninth, which may be the last time we see him for quite a while now that The Viz (he of the 27.00 ERA) is back, and Hurdle, being the genius he is, has announced his intent to give The Viz more innings. Apparently Bucky's 1.67 ERA has escaped him. Most things do. Poor Bucky, he'll have to go sit back in the locked bathroom with Iannetta.

Speaking of Iannetta, can you guess which of these two stat lines belongs to our starting catcher:

A) .289/6/20/.358/.577/.935
B) .221/2/15/.260/.338/.599

If you guessed A), as most rational people would, you'd be wrong. Nope, Yorvit Torrealba, aka B) must possess incriminating photos of Hurdle or something to keep being named the starter. There was already enough clamor to replace Torrealba with Iannetta last year even when Iannetta was struggling too, and now that he's hitting very well, it's getting even more excruciating to watch him lose time to a generally inferior player. AND we have Yorvit another year. Groan.

Help, however, may be on the way. Holliday went 4/4 last night on his rehab assignment with the Sky Sox, Tulo should be back in another few weeks, Barmes won't be far behind, and hopefully Jason Hirsh will make it back as well so we don't have to have Glendon Rusch (yes, I'm serious) start another game for us. Jeff Francis sucks, so does Manny Corpas, and Aaron Cook is really the only outstanding starter we have. A four-game win streak, modest as it is, of course has everyone hoping they've figured something out, which of course is not very likely, but hey. At least I got a Tulo bobblehead.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

An Update As Short As The Rockies Are Bad

Yes, I am alive. Yes, the Rockies still suck great big hairy donkey balls. No, they have not done anything that I particularly wish to immortalize on the Internets, as relieving them in my scarred psyche is quite traumatic enough, thank you very much. Yes, in the very unlikely event that they sort asshats from teakettles and begin to resemble a MLB team again, I shall return to writing about them. In the meantime, all I do is piss, moan, complain, suffer, agonize, watch their games anyway and get angrier, bitch some more, question the meaning of life, and spit on small children, sunshine, old ladies, rainbows, and puppies. Which actually makes me a little like Philip Rivers, only without the Southern drawl and overwhelming aura of eau de douchebag. *

* Disclaimer: This is not true. I have not actually spat on anything and I have been doing quite well at life, mainly by pretending the purple-and-black poltroons do not exist. This is called repression and is the only way I can cope. Freud was onto something after all. I had coffee, worked some more on my latest book, and bought sweet new headphones today. That was good. I am done with sophomore year on Friday and go home on Monday. This is even better. Game against the Diamondbacks? What game against the Diamondbacks? Our sixth loss in seven games against the Diamondbacks? I'm sorry, this does not compute. Try another blog.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Well..... That's Just Wonderful

Tulo could be out until midseason.

That's just really fucking wonderful. I mean, he was slumping and all, but he was Tulo. He started out slowly last year, then he turned on the jets. Now he was forced to rush into the lineup last night after Baker tore a blood vessel, and it looks he completely tore a tendon near his quad, leading to a 4-to-8-week absence. I don't even know what to say. Yeah, no more pixie dust. I am pretty peeved right now. To put it lightly.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

I Cannot Believe The Words Are Coming Outta Me Mouth

... but I'm on the verge of asking for Fuentes back as closer.

Thanks for a crapload of nothing, Manny. And against the Cubs. Fourth night in a row. Someone check the calendar, I think it's June 2007 again. And if we lose tomorrow, we'll go winless on this brief homestand.

Dear God.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Absolutely Pathetic

I really don't want to waste words recapping it, but every time you think the 2008 Rockies have figured something out, they go off and do their damndest to show you that no, they are still as wildly streaky as ever. Win four, lose three, and do so in agonizing fashion -- by blowing a one-run lead in the eighth, the eighth, and the ninth, respectively. Our bullpen was the best in baseball three days ago. Then the Astros broadcasters handily jinxed it. It was 4-3 Rockies and then 5-4 Astros. It was 5-4 Rockies and then 9-5 Phillies. It was 6-5 Rockies and then 8-6 Phillies. Three winnable games that we will regret later, especially with the damned Dbacks looking well-nigh unstoppable. Instead of 12-8, we are 9-11. Great going, guys.

Sometimes I swear I hate this team more than I ever loved them.... Oy.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Love, Hate, Tolerate: The Lucky and the Luckless

Something which I have been meaning to do for a while, if only for the sheer hell of it. I thought I would rank each team in Major League Baseball according to my personal preferences, as if this means a flying crap. But hey, we all have our vanity, and I'm bored on Saturday night after watching a Rockies win, which equals this staggering work of heartbreaking genius. The Rockies go for the sweep over the Astros, and a 6-3 record on a 9-game, 10-day road trip (well, actually, more like a 10.5 game road trip once you add in all the extra innings vs. the Padres) with Ubaldo Jimenez matching up with old friend Shawn Chacon. And by friend, I really mean, used to kick things and yell while he was haplessly attempting to ''close" games. He went 1-9 as a closer one year, and Hurdle kept trotting him out there. Oy.


The Fortunate Five

1. Colorado Rockies. Anyone who reads this blog needs no explaining as to why my purple-and-black boys top this list. I love them. Too much, I think.
2. Oakland A's. Used to be really into them, am not really so much anymore, but still enjoy watching their games and have a hat autographed by quite a few members of the team (at least circa 2006).
3. St. Louis Cardinals. Was thrilled when they won the 2006 World Series, have also cooled on them a little recently, but they still have Adam Wainwright. I love Adam Wainwright.
4. Milwaukee Brewers. They merit a spot this high on the list for all their help last September, which they squelched the Padres for the last two regular-season games in order to force The Tiebreaker. Tony Gwynn Jr. mentions that the Rockies themselves have thanked him for corking that triple off Hoffman, and I dunno, I've never found anything inherently loathable about the Brew Crew. I mean, it was a total sham that Braun got the ROY, but that was the writers' fault, not his. Also, Milwaukee and Colorado seem to be on good terms, and I like that.
5. New York Mets. I know, I know. It's embarrassing to have to even admit it. I am not a Mets fan, and when going to games at Shea, frequently root for them to screw up if only because the reaction from the actual Mets fans around me is always amusing. (Booing being a recreational sport in New York). But aside from Coors, I've been to the most games at Shea, and out of the two teams in my adopted hometown, they're the one I don't hate, detest, loathe, and wish to vanish into thin air. Not that I'm talking about anyone in particular, of course. But I have a pair of good friends who are Mets fans, we go to games together, and always have a great time. It was freezing the last two times we went (earlier this week) and I steadfastly stuck it out, for a team that I can take or leave (mainly because I just love baseball). So, oddly enough, one of the East Coast darlings actually does earn a relatively high spot on this list. Whether it's for them or not, I don't know, but there you go.

The Tolerable Ten

6. Cleveland Indians.
Play hard and always seem to be good, which would be annoying if I was a fan of a team in the AL Central aside from them. Also, my parents swear up and down I used to go to Indians games with my sisters and a family friend (we used to live in Ohio) but I don't remember at all. Also, I have strong feelings about The Jake having its name changed to "Progressive Field" -- what a crock. I still wish we'd played the Indians in the Series last year, mainly because we'd probably have won.
7. Seattle Mariners. Lookout Landing, a top Mariners blog, is absolutely hysterical. I'm serious, it is absolute comic genius, I read it just to laugh, and the Mariners commercials (a tradition) are always funny as well. (You can check them out online). All that adds up to a high spot for the Caffeineheads.
8. Tampa Bay Devil Rays. Even though their insistence on being called the "Rays" now is mildly nettling (I therefore always call them by their proper name, heh) they remind me somewhat of the Rockies, Evan Longoria is good friends with Tulo, and any team that has a chip on its shoulder for the Yankees (aside from the Red Sox....) is good by me.
9. Florida Marlins. Poor Marlins. You can't really hate them. A-Rod makes more than their entire team, and any time anyone good shows up, Loria hauls them off and buys more children under 21 to staff the Baby Fish. Also, I rooted for them in the 1997 Series as a spratling of nine tender years, and it was a lot of fun. (Wow, that was a long time ago).
10. Minnesota Twins. They have a god-awful stadium (although that may soon be remedied, their new park may be built without a roof.... which equals April baseball in Minneapolis outdoors, which equals oof). Still, their players are likable, Justin Morneau should be commended for nabbing the AL MVP in 2006 ahead of That Man In Pinstripes, and if they ever get Francisco Liriano healthy, they could have Santana all over again.
11. Pittsburgh Pirates. I know almost nothing about the Pirates except that Ian Snell once thought the Rockies were stealing signs and therefore threatened to start beaning them. It didn't happen, and it makes me think that it was just Snell being Snell -- i.e. totally crazy. Also, the Pirates beat the Rockies 3 of 4 in August last year. That hurt. But they are the Pirates. Success is short-lived, therefore why bother hating them?
12. Cincinnati Reds. They have the pieces in place to be very good in a few years, but then went and sent that all to pot by hiring Dusty Baker. Cueto, Votto, Bailey, Bruce, etc. should have Cincinnati fans thinking that their days of doormatting it in the Central may be coming to an end. Downside: Say goodbye to the right arms of Arroyo and Harang.
13. Toronto Blue Jays. They swept the Rockies to start that horrible roadtrip that didn't happen (you know, the 1-9 one... OOF... back to repressing). But Dustin McGowan and Shaun Marcum are a strong starter duo, and hey, I always kind of pull for anyone in the East squashed beneath the 800-lb gorillas. You know, Thing 1 and Thing 2.
14. Washington Nationals. They try so hard. And then they fail. But it's kind of cute/pathetic to watch them giving it another brave stab anyway.
15. Texas Rangers. They earn this spot mainly on the strength of C.J. Wilson, their eccentric blue-gloved lefty reliever. In case I have not told you this recently, he is amazing.

The Dubious Decade

16. Houston Astros.
Seriously, who likes the Astros? They have terrible management, they had Roger Clemens a few years, they went to the Series in 2005 and then boffed it all up. Don't hate them, but seriously, the Astros? Whatever.
17. Atlanta Braves. Nobody likes Chipper Jones, including Chipper Jones, but don't tell him that. We can save his existential crisis for when it would be more useful.
18. Detroit Tigers. I have to say, watching the Tigers fall flat on their faces out of the gate, after everyone had pre-emptively anointed them the AL Champs following their acquisition of Willis and Cabrera, was pretty damn satisfying.
19. Baltimore Orioles. The Orioles are so bad. And no matter how well they've started off this year, I am sure they'll realize that and go back to their usual climes of TEH FAIL.
20. Chicago White Sox. Have THE most annoying broadcasters in all of baseball, and it was more fun when they were cursed too. Although they do suck again, so cool.
21. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Stupid name. You are not the Dodgers. And you play in Disneyland. Bugger off and get some Mickey Mouse ears.
22. Los Angeles Dodgers. I don't precisely hate them, but there are certainly no fond feelings for them either. Their fans always leave early to "beat the traffic," they spend more than everyone in the West and don't have a whole lot to show for it, and Nomar? Seriously? Whatever. The Helton homer off Saito last September 18th was a defining moment of my life. Sheerly amazing. And then we swept them in four, right in the middle of the streak. Good times.
23. Arizona Diamondbacks. Purple Row and AZ Snakepit's posters have a good relationship with each other, and enjoy bantering and discussing their teams. I am good friends with several Arizona fans from there, and the Dbacks are much like the Rockies -- a team of young, talented, genuinely nice guys. That said, they are our biggest division rival and are getting annoyingly good -- sheez, Slytherin, lose a few. Plus they have Eric Byrnes and danced on our field like it was a big deal when they won the West. We got you back in the NLCS, suckers. (Although it is true I am trying to expunge details of our early-season meetings thus far from my scarred psyche).
24. Kansas City Royals. They played us last June for one of the most aggravating series imaginable, which Rockies Nation as a whole pretends does not exist, and always seem to play like the Worldbeaters instead of the Turfeaters against us. AND we have to play them again this year. Oh brother.
25. San Francisco Giants. They only earn this spot because I couldn't decide if I hated them or the Phillies more, and decided it was the Phillies. Nonetheless, the Giants richly deserve all the fail that comes to them.

The Terrible Tier

26. Philadelphia Phillies.
Overhyped, overrated, and Jimmy Rollins. Swept in the NLDS by us, after all the pundits sagely figured this team (East Coast, remember, therefore better!) would sweep US. Revenge is sweet. Go cry in your beer, you bunch of hooligans who constitute "fans" in the "City of Brotherly Love."
27. San Diego Padres. Yep, the hate is pretty epic here. You know what? It doesn't matter if Holliday touched the plate, we still beat you. And then we beat you again in 22 innings. And we went to the playoffs because you blew chunks. Take THAT.
28. New York Yankees. It's actually pretty hard to decide who goes where for the last three spots on this list, since I hate the Yankees, Red Sox, and Cubs equally -- which is to say, with the force of an exploding star? Let's just say I find nothing at all lovable, likable, tolerable, or even mildly dislikable about this band of overexposed prima-donnas. In fact, you might say I hate them. That doesn't even sound strong enough, but you know what I mean.
29. Chicago Cubs. I asked a friend if the Cubs or Red Sox should go in the last slot on this list. His response: "The Red Sox. At least the Cubs have the decency not to win the World Series." Which I think is true, and the only thing keeping the Small Bears out of the cellar (hey, they'll get there on their own, given enough time. Cubsuck is a law of the universe -- it will be a constant). I hate their fans (especially their fans) the fact they're now a big-market and still-shitty team, and the fact that it's still "trendy" to root for them when they're nothing but a bunch of giant losers. Also, their fans. Did I mention their fans? Here's to another century of Cubs futility.
30. Boston Red Sox. I have hated the Red Sox for all of my career as a baseball fan, whether for one reason or another, and it was made about a hundred times worse by last October. The Red Sox are just evil, there is no other way to put it. There is nothing redeeming about this team. They are the incarnation of the Devil. Should I tell you how I really feel? Die, Red Sox, die.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Total Insanity, Total Awesomeness

Wow. When the rubber match between the Rockies and Padres came about, a pitching duel might have been expected, but what everyone got was well and beyond the call of duty. Perpetual Cy contender Jake Peavy was starting against Colorado "ace" Jeff Francis (and ace is in scare quotes because although he entered the season with that designation, his first few starts were anything but). But Jeff lived up to his half of the billing, and for seven innings, he and Peavy threw zeros at each other. Francis finished with 7 innings, 3 hits, 0 runs, 1 walk, and 7 K's; Peavy with 8 innings, 4 hits, 3 walks, and 11 K's. Brian Fuentes pitched a perfect bottom of the eighth for the Rockies, and Trevor Hoffman only did the same for the Padres in the ninth thanks to his ridiculous park. Helton and Holliday hit back-to-back shots that would have been out of anywhere except the hitter's wasteland known as Petco Park, but since they were in Petco, they just went down as a pair of flyouts. With the score 0-0 entering the ninth, Taylor Buchholz came in and pitched a perfect inning to send it to the tenth, where Heath Bell pitched a clean inning for San Diego, so Buchholz came in and threw another one... are you by any chance detecting a pattern here?

The team went on swapping goose-eggs right up until the 14th, where, with the bases loaded and 2 out, Brad Hawpe worked a walk to make it 1-0. Of course, it wasn't destined to end there. The Padres had already wasted a golden opportunity in the bottom of the 12th -- Paul McAnulty hit a laser into the right field corner and had the bad idea to test Hawpe's arm. Hawpe fired a bullet to second baseman Barmes (yes, he's starting due to Nix's terribleness, and shockingly not embarrassing himself) and Barmes fired it on to Atkins, who applied the tag for the first out. Instead of having a runner at second and no out, the Padres had one out and no one on -- and when Randy Wolf (the same pitcher who two-hit the Rox a few nights ago) hit a single, it loomed even larger, as the game was still scoreless as that point and it could have been the winner. The Padres tried again in the bottom of the 14th, as Manny Corpas, who is still prone to the early-season wobbles, blew his second save in five chances and allowed Josh Bard to stroke the game-tying single. Tulowitzki threw Clark out at the plate on the next play to again escape the game-winner, and pinch-hitter Colt Morton grounded out to end it. Onto the fifteenth. And sixteenth. And seventeenth. And eighteenth. And nineteenth.

Both teams exhausted their benches around the sixteenth, leading to a number of relievers having to actually bat. The Rockies grounded into four double plays; the Padres into two. The Rockies left 16 men on base; the Padres left 14. The Rockies struck out 20 times, the Padres 17. Buchholz, Micah Bowie, and Corpas pitched two innings apiece, allowing between them 3 hits, but most unfortunately Corpas yakked up the tying run. Ryan Speier pitched 3 innings, allowing just two hits. And the game STILL wasn't over! Kip Wells came in for the 19th as the last available pitcher -- Cook and Morales had flown to Houston already, and Jimenez and Redman had pitched in the first two games of the series. Who knows who was going to pitch next -- Barmes? Helton? (He pitched in college). Tulo? (He can hit 94). I always kind of wish that would happen, but it didn't. In the top of the 22nd inning, Willy T reached on a Khalil Greene throwing error, stole second, and moved to third on Josh Bard's throwing error, ending up there with two outs and Tulo at the plate. Tulo has, let's just say, not looked very much like himself for the early going, and is still lugging around a .167 average. However, he redeemed himself for the moment, bouncing an RBI double into left-center to score Willy T with the go-ahead run, 2-1. Wells still had one more inning to get through -- he hit Greene with a pitch to begin the bottom of the 22nd, got Josh Bard to ground into a double play, and struck out Glendon Rusch -- yes, Glendon Rusch, hitting for himself since the benches were long since empty -- to end it, six hours and 16 minutes after it had begun on Thursday night. It was over early Friday morning at 1:21 AM PT. Wells picked up the win, pitching four innings with one hit, one walk, and three strikeouts.

This is 4:21 AM ET. And where was I? Sitting through every agonizing pitch. Did I have class tomorrow... er, later this morning? You know it. Was anything happening? No. Was it painful? As all hell. And yet there I sat, with all my fellow lunatics on Purple Row, getting goofy by necessity and fighting off exhaustion since I'm too much of a fanatic to give it up and go to bed. But it was amazing. The guys seem to have realized that they've been grinding too much (Tulo) and forgetting to have fun, so just having to sit through a game that we all seriously thought would never end helped loosen them up. Although I can't say I envy them, having to play again tonight only about 14 hours after the last game ended -- travel to Houston included. Hopefully everyone slept on the plane..!

Go Rockies!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Update: Still Shitty

For once, my lack of blogging has nothing to do with my own questionable diligence, but rather at a failed attempt at un-hexing the deeply hexed, otherwise known as my beloved and currently very inept Colorado Rockies. They have been stop and go (mainly stop) this far, and are sitting at a not-so-pretty 5-8 mark coming out of the first few weeks of the season. (I think the Giants may have won more games than them, but I am afraid to look). Since they went on that losing streak right after I wrote the recap of their first game, I tried some preventive superstitious measures, such as not wearing Rockies gear and not writing about them, which worked in the course of a three-game sweep of the Braves in which they looked more like themselves. It failed again once they dropped 2 of 3 to the Diamondbacks (at least they didn't get swept again....?) and since they managed to stage their one win in convincing fashion at the end of the series (13-5) I had hope going into San Diego. Nope, they got two hits and got shut out by Randy Wolf while losing 6-0. Oy. Holliday did not touch the plate last night, whether disputed or otherwise, and nor did anyone else. Shit.

Clearly (hopefully) the offense won't be this bad forever, but they need some time to play every day and get into a rhythm. The bad part being, while they suck, it's pretty hard to endure this on a day-by-day basis. Not as if that has ever stopped me before, and likely won't be any detriment this time, but sheeez. Would a fast start kill you guys? Every time I think they really must have just played their worst game possible and therefore have to start their (ponderous) recovery, they outdo themselves, then I remind myself that a) it's early and we have time to come out of it, and b) we are the Rockies and failure is unfortunately a little more common than we'd like. Blah.

Fortunately, I missed the game last night, and will do so again tonight. I was off attending my first live games of the year, the deeply fascinating Mets/Nationals clash (note to self: be thankful we are not the Nationals). Odalis Perez vs. Mike Pelfrey isn't exactly the stuff of legend, but it was a lot of fun to take in my first game of the year, as I was with my wonderful friends Mary and Steve, who are really amazing people and always fun to go to a game with -- they pay for tickets, midnight diner runs afterwards, whatever, and seem to enjoy watching me have fun as much as I have fun. Something that's always struck me is how casually a game always starts, the quiet moment as the defense runs out and the pitcher throws a few warmups, and then suddenly all the pomp is over and the first guy is stepping in just like that, ready to go. It seems such a small thing. (Baseball philosophy 101. Sounds like a course I need to take. Do they have it here? Of course not). Since it was Jackie Robinson Day, they had his widow, Rachel, there to speak, which was pretty cool, and a gospel choir performed before the game began. (Although it was kind of frigid on an April night at Shea, so I spent the last half of the game bundled in an extra-large Mets jacket belonging to Steve. This does not mean I was one of them… I kept kind of silently rooting for the Mets to screw up, since it was amusing to watch the reactions. This did not happen, however).


Annoying Red Sox fan: “Rockies suck! Who do they have? The Sox have Ortiz and Ramirez!”

Me: “Ortiz? He’s batting .091 this year or something. Ramirez? Sure, I’ll give you that one. But what do you mean, who do we have? Ever heard of a guy named Matt Holliday?"

Sox fan: “Holliday can’t hit.”

Me: “Are you crazy? Have you even watched a game recently? Holliday’s OBP is close to .400, his SLG was up at .600, he hit .340 last year, he’ll hit over 30 homers and drive in well north of 100, he’s got the best hitting mechanics and work ethic imaginable, and he’s even improved on his fielding. He’s amazing.”

While this sounds as if it could easily have happened, it actually didn’t. That was a dream I had last night. I fear, I fear, I fear for my subconscious.

I am going to the Mets/Nationals game again with Mary tonight (although I think Steve has work). Matt Chico vs. John Maine, and it should be fun. I will remember to bring more Rockies-themed regalia to keep me warm, since Steve won't be around to let me borrow his jacket, and in so doing, I will be spared watching my team actually play. (Odd, I know). Since it is Mark Redman, I expect I will be excused in this sentiment.


Sunday, April 06, 2008

A Small Request To The Colorado Rockies

Any time you're done getting swept by the Diamondbacks, hitting like crap, pitching like crap, playing like crap, looking like crap, making me feel like I've been stabbed, and otherwise generally embarrassing yourself in every facet of the game related to the playing of baseball at a (so I'm told) professional level, feel free to start your 2007 NL Champions title defense and/or the 2008 season, mkay?

Friday, April 04, 2008

I Fail To Find This Funny

Seriously, I don't. What the flipping hell is wrong with the offense? We get schooled by Kyle Lohse, Todd Wellemeyer, and Brad Thompson. Then we get home and get REALLY schooled in front of a sold-out home crowd by the team we beat to win the NL pennant last year. Yeah, 4 games and there are how many to go? 158? I really think it's perfectly fine if we just sped up to the good part of this season, whenever the hell that feels like arriving. Redman was Redman, Holliday struck out 4 times, Tulo made an error and was saved from another by a charitable call from the blue. 8-1 is your final and I am not the happiest girl in the world right now; in fact that is a bit of an understatement and I know that that is a problem. Seeing as there are a damn lot of games left to go and it's going to hurt if this keeps up for even a few more days -- I have learned from past experience that I cannot go numb. I want last year's opening day loss -- we permitted the D-backs eight runs but at least we scored six.

1-3 and we look like crap. Can't hit, have a suspect starting rotation, and yeah. They're too good to be this bad forever but damn, it hurts when it does. And I think that my masochism switch is even more broken than usual, because I just sat through that whole fucking charade until the end. Somebody please find me a new hobby, at least one that will occupy two weeks and give me a chance to come back to my team when they look like a team.

I'd like a win tomorrow, but a win would involve scoring runs. I don't believe such a thing exists. Unicorns and Santa Claus, baby.

I'm now going to go do my poli-sci midterm, which sounds assloads more fun than what I just put myself through.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

That Is More Like It

Tulo thinks so too. Surprisingly enough, things went swimmingly tonight (well, almost, seeing as the offense sucked out loud). Kip Wells, of all people, turned in a solid effort against his former team -- 5.1 innings and 1 run, a solo shot by the guy on his face up there, Molina. New lefty setup guy Bowie got a key double play, Taylor Buchholz put two guys on but got a strikeout to end the seventh, Fuentes (SHOCKINGLY!) whipped through a spotless eighth inning, and Manny set down the Cards with similar ease in the ninth. In the meantime, Tulo got three hits but nobody else did squat, and the Rockies had been shut out by Kyle Lohse through five innings (zouch). But in the top of the eighth, Tulo got a single, Todd hit a ground-rule double, and Matt chopped one to Troy Glaus, whose off-balance throw to the plate went for an error and allowed Tulo to score. (As you might have guessed, this is the moment shown in the charming picture above. Oh Tulo. I love you). Then, with the bases loaded after Atkins' walk, it looked as if the Rockies weren't going to score the go-ahead run -- Hawpe and Torrealba both struck out. But rookie second-sacker Jayson Nix pulled a Toddfather (a bases-loaded walk) to push the Rockies up 2-1, and that was the way it finished. 1 down, 1 win, 161 more to go, Aaron Cook vs. Todd Wellemeyer tomorrow. The Rockies got a bad game washed out, the offense sucked today, and they still won, so if they can get the offense in gear against Wellemeyer, it'd be great. (Last time they saw him it was not good, as Jason Hirsh got his butt kicked and the Cardinals broke the Rockies' seven-game win streak).

Good way to start the season, fellas. Let's do it some more.

Monday, March 31, 2008


So yes, after storming all afternoon, today's game was officially called at 5:45 PM CT. This is kind of a relief, as the Cards were already up 5-1 and Francis looked as if his nerves were causing him to overthrow (he's probably just as happy to have the five runs and five walks expunged from the official record). The bad news: Los Kip gets his wish to be a starter, and he gets to do it against his old team, who are almost undoubtedly going to be thrilled that he's facing them instead of siphoning wins off them (I'm sure Cards fans have not forgotten the 7-17 season, including the 5-17 mark as a starter, he turned in for them just last year). Woo-hoo. I cannot summon myself to be thrilled about this prospect for obvious reasons. They really should just start Buchholz instead, but since he's gotten comfortable with the bullpen, they'll get finicky about not messing with his apparently very delicate psyche. He'll be facing Kyle Lohse at 6:15 pm CT/7:15 ET tomorrow, as the Rockies and Cardinals attempt to re-start their season, and guh yeah I cannot bring myself to liveblog a game that Kip the Gip is starting. It'll be bad enough watching it.

See you tomorrow anyway.

Liveblog: 3/31 Rockies Vs. Cardinals

Lineups in the post below. I'm all set. And psyched.

Top 1st: Wainwright vs. Taveras, Tulowitzki, Helton


Fastball, strike
Curveball, ball
Fastball, SINGLE! Willy!!!

Pickoff attempt.
Fastball, ball. High inside.
Fastball, hit a very long way... nice catch by Schumaker, robs Tulo of a double (he scorched it). Blah. 1 out.

Pickoff attempt.
Fastball, called strike. Questionable.
PO attempt.
PO attempt. Give it up, Adam.
Changeup, and Todd whacks it! Double down the line!! Willy T to third! And here comes Matt!

Slider, ball 1.
Fastball, ball 2. Inside.
Curveball, ball 3. Adam is scared of Matt. With good reason.
Slider, ball 4. Bases loaded, one out. Atkins up.

Fastball, ball 1.
Fastball.... OH Excellent, I see in play, runs(s).... groundout, everyone moves up, Willy T scores. 1-0 Rockies! Garrett with the club's first RBI!

Curveball, called strike.
Fastball, ball.
Curveball, fouled off.
Fastball, got a little under it for a fly-out. But a nice start, and we lead. HELL yeahs.

Bottom 1st: Francis vs. Schumaker, Ludwick, Pujols

Ball 1.
Ball 2.
Ball 3.
Ball 4.

Ball 1. Jeffrey...
Ball 2. Come on Jeff, get rid of the nerves.
Ball 3. OH COME ON! All fastballs thus far.
Ball 4. Mound visit, please!

Ball 1. Fastball.
Ball 2. Slider. Um, is this NukeLaLoosh or Jeff Francis?
What? A STRIKE? 2-1. 2 on. 0 out.
Fastball.... scary out. Matt catches it. 2 on, 1 out.

Another ball. Somebody sort Francis out.
Ball 2. Ugh. Case of the nerves. Yorvit, talk to him in between innings.
Ball 3. Oy. Slider, for a change. Yorvit is sitting on the fastball.
Ball 4... bases loaded, one out. Not good.

Ball. SOMEBODY TALK TO HIM! He was so sharp all spring.
Ball 2. Why am I not surprised? You will get no calls this way, Jeff.
Ball 3. This is insane! Jeffrey! Christ!
Fouled off. 3-1.
Fouled off again. 3-2. Get out of this inning as quickly as possible...
oh fuck... in play runs....
Double. 2-1 Cards lead. Ah fuck.

Guess what for pitch 1.
Pitch 2: Slider, fouled.
Pitch 3: Off Helton's glove, into right. 4-1. FUCK!

Called strike. Get Izturis out, he sucks.
Fouled back, fastball. 2-2.
Didn't work. Base hit to center, Adam up. Francis, come ON. Nerves or no, don't embarrass yourself.

First pitch: Infield-fly popout. 2 gone.

Curveball, called strike.
Fastball, called strike.
Slider, ball. I really rather hoped we were past all this.
Changeup, hit at Nix, flips to Tulo for the force. Thank god THAT is over with. Blech. Now that's out of your system, Francis? 4-1 Cardinals. Kip Wells was in the bullpen, you inconsiderate bastard. KIP WELLS FOR THE LOVE OF CHRIST. Francis is usually GOOD against the Cardinals.

Top 2nd: Wainwright vs. Torrealba, Nix, Francis

Fastball, swinging strike. Do not let Adam get in a groove.
Curveball, called. Eh.
Called out on a questionable "followthrough." Same old Yorvit, stupid umpires. 3-pitch K. 1 out.

High and tight, fouled off. 0-1.
Curveball, ball 1.
Low, ball 2.
Pops out on a slider, 2 outs. This is the weak part of the lineup, but still.

Redeem yourself, buster.
Ball 1, fastball.
Called strike.
Fouled off.
Curveball misses low, ball 2. 2-2.
Reached a little outside, fouled off. Count holds.
Slider, misses inside. 3-2. You need this kind of inning too, Jeff. That is, a fast one.
Seventh pitch.... taps softly to Adam, who throws to Pujols for the force. Ulp.

Bottom 2nd: Francis vs. Schumaker, Ludwick, Pujols

How about a re-do? EH?

Ball 1. Nope. Same old same old. This may be a loooong game.
Fastball, in there for (don't faint) a strike.
Changeup, outside corner. Schumaker swings and fails to come up with it. Nice.
Grounded to Todd. That's more like it. 1 out.

Ball. Maybe. I take leave to doubt it, but Francis has given the ump no reason to be generous.
Grounded to Atkins, 2 outs. Much more like it, yes.

So he follows it up with a ball. 1-1.
Urp. Pujols homer. 5-1.

Fastball fouled off. 1-1.
Fastball, ball.
Swinging strike. 2-2.
Ball, way inside. Full count. Jeff needs to shake this one off posthaste.
Fouled. Francis already at 50 pitches. Gadzoinks.
Misses with a changeup. Glaus walks. Four walks. Fuck.

Called strike 1.
Fastball fouled off. 0-2.
Ball in the dirt. Yorvit has to block. 1-2.
Fouled off, still 1-2.
Changeup, fouled off again. No out pitch today. Count the same.
Changeup fouled off again.
Fouled off AGAIN! Goddammit Ankiel, go away!
Finally. Got him fishing at a curveball, K's. Not before more damage. Urgh.

Top 3rd: Wainwright vs. Taveras, Tulowitzki, Helton

Ball 1. Come on guys.
Called strike.
And.... out. Another long one to Schumaker. Arrgh! You started out so well! And go away, Schumaker.

Fastball, ball
And... base hit to left. Take that, Schumaker. Let's get something going. Tulo on first, Todd up.

Fastball down the pipe fouled off.
High up... and Todd's out. Popped out. 2 out. Tulo on first.

Please continue your reputation as a Cardinals-killer.
Ball, away. 1-0.
Ball, outside. 2-0.
Fastball down Broadway, Matt looks at it. 2-1.
High and tight, watch it there. 3-1.
Pickoff attempt. I wonder if Tulo's planning to run on Molina...
He is. Tulo steals, Matt swings through one. 3-2, Tulo on second.
And... called strike 3 on the hook. I am pretty peeved right now.

5-1 Cardinals.

Bottom 3rd: LaLoosh vs. Molina, Izturis, Wainwright

Curveball strike 1. LaLoosh can do it too. Maybe.
Ball. Or not. 1-1
Fouled off. 1-2.
High and inside. 2-2.
Fouled off. Count leveled.
Flied out to Brad. 1 out.

Curveball, not close, ball 1. Seriously Nuke, Izturis sucks.
Two more of the same, except fastballs, bring it to 3-0. Good God, Nuke.
Gets the inside corner for 3-1.
Ball. Another fucking walk. 5 on the day for "Game 1 of the Series" Jeff Francis. I don't like this version. Why is it that the teams I root for never win on Opening Day?


Never mind, rain delay. Please wash this one out.

Lineups: Colorado Rockies Vs. St. Louis Cardinals


Willy Taveras, CF
Troy Tulowitzki,
Todd Helton, 1B
Matt Holliday, LF
Garrett Atkins, 3B
Brad Hawpe, RF
Yorvit Torrealba, C
Jayson Nix, 2B
Jeff Francis, P

Skip Schumaker, LF
Ryan Ludwick, RF
Albert Pujols, 1B
Troy Glaus, 3B
Rick Ankiel, CF
Yadier Molina, C
Cesar Izturis, SS
Adam Wainwright, P (Yes, one of LaRussa's funny ideas. Adam is a good hitter though)
Aaron Miles, 2B

Pregame festivities going on now. I am sadly TV-less, so it'll be Gameday and Purple Row for me. And here. I CANNOT EFFIN WAIT.


Around the Horn: Bench

I am back in New York on a gray, chilly Monday to finish out my sophomore year of college and (presumably) actually get some work done in achieving this. Further proving how starved for baseball I am, I seriously got impatient last night waiting for the Nationals/Braves game to kick off. I have zero emotional connection to either of the teams, AND I wasn't even watching on TV, I was resorting to my usual standard of Gameday. But I followed the damn thing, Ryan Zimmerman hit a walk-off homer to beat the Braves, christen new Nationals Park, and no doubt make all the Mets fans in this city who virulently hate the Braves very happy. But now it is time for real Rockies baseball, and I am bouncing myself off the hook waiting for 4:15 pm ET this afternoon (but once they get all the ceremonies done, probably more like 4:30 or so). In which the Rockies open their title defense in St. Louis against the Cards and Adam Wainwright (and yes, I still love him. And yes, I want the Rockies to sweep the Cards to get 2008 started right, as the Cards are kind of sad-sack this year and I'll root for them when they are not playing the Blake Street Sweepers. Like last year, I will likely be live-blogging the game and posting on Purple Row, so if you have to know second by second what's going on, I will have you covered).

In the meantime, I'm going to close out the team previews at the eleventh hour with a look at our bench. Scott Podsednik was officially named the fifth outfielder, Cory Sullivan got demoted to AAA yet again, and Ramon Ramirez got traded to the Royals for a Player To Be Named Later (who is a popular fellow). So, it's time to see who will be constituting the backup corps for the purple pinstripes, and Clint Barmes made it. Zoyyy.


OF Ryan Spilborghs
OF Scott Podsednik
OF/IF Jeff Baker
IF Clint Barmes
C Chris Iannetta

#19 R/R Ryan Spilborghs: Spilly, as he's affectionately known, is about as valuable and offbeat as fourth outfielders come. A colorful character who experiments with crazy hairdos and clothing, has his own TV segment on Rockies All Access, and otherwise is as outgoing and exuberant as he looks, Spilly is the life of the party and readily submits to all the (good-natured) ribbing he endures from his teammates (although not without giving as good as he gets). Spilly is a naturally funny person who can make comedy out of any situation, and people like him are good for the chemistry and to balance out the intense leader-types like Tulo, Matt, and Todd. Your basic clubhouse clown (he bought dancing robots last year) Spilly is also an extremely good option to have as a backup outfielder. Last time this season, I was kvetching, with just cause, that his talents were wasted in the Springs and Steve Finley was going to suck; I was proved quite right in this instance. Fortunately, they saw the light and promoted Spilly in May, and as far as I'm concerned, they need to keep him around -- they actually released him on December 21, 2005, and then immediately realizing their mistake, signed him back the same day. Spilly loves Denver, and has moved his entire family (mom, dad, and sister) with him from Santa Barbara so his mom can get the best medical treatment available. Fortunately, Denver loves him too; I've yet to find a Rockies fan that doesn't adore Spilly, and if they don't, then ignore the poltroon. They love his zaniness, or his ability to provide a spark, or generally the fact that he's the sort of guy you spend a long time recounting assorted off-the-wall stories about. (His debut on Rockies All Access this past week was a hit, especially when he, quote unquote, decides to "cook" Atkins' steak).

He's also an entertainment coordinator who bridges the gaps between players and organizes activities in all the cities the team goes to, so they don't just have to sit around the hotel waiting for the game to start. To wit:

“I know everyone here pretty well, so I’m always grabbing different people,” Spilborghs said. “I drag people to do stuff that they’re not going to do. We have a lot of fun.”

Like on the Freedom Trail in Boston. Spilborghs convinced Garrett Atkins, Matt Holliday and Troy Tulowitzki, to name a few, to go on a trek that wound through the city and visited different historical sites.

Baker and Jeff Francis were sitting at a Boston restaurant when they heard the group just before they rounded a corner.

“Spilly’s yelling at Tulo, Tulo’s yelling at Holliday, Holliday’s yelling at Atkins and me and Francis are dying laughing,” Baker said. “It was something I’ll never forget.”

(Not to mention that as inducement, Spilly promised everyone he'd buy them something every time they complained and they'd get ice cream at the end. He does know how to hold an audience).

The Rockies are eying the idea of using Spilly as their backup leadoff man, to keep Willy T fresh and to continue to provide a reliable catalyst at the top of the lineup. If Spilly's performance after he was called up in May and asked to do just that is any indication, they're in good hands. After Finley finally received his long-overdue walking papers, Spilly hit .310 in 22 at-bats in May, with 3 doubles and 5 RBI (I believe he got three of them in something like his first game, immediately surpassing Finley's total for the season). He kept humming right along in June, hitting .308 with 2 doubles, 3 HR, and 14 RBI for the month, but he really took off in July -- he hit .353 for the month, with 4 HR and 18 RBI, including a grand slam against the Mets on July 3 in a game that the Rockies won 11-3. When he was expected to take over full-time duty in August, Spilly scuffled slightly, as he hit only .250 for August with 3 HR and 8 RBI, but recovered in September alongside everyone else to hit .322 and play his part in guiding the team to a rampaging regular-season finish. Home or away didn't make a significant difference, as Spilly hit. 311 at Coors Field for the year and .290 on the road. Most importantly, he's also a major threat against lefties (.356) which was why he got a significant amount of platoon time last year due to Hawpe's continuing struggles with southpaws. He doesn't possess Willy T's speed (4 SB, 1 CS, but may have more opportunities) but has much more of a power stroke and a knack for seizing a situation. Whether it's dancing robots, bad cooking, interesting facial hair, or the timely hit, Ryan Spilborghs has got you covered. If they're planning to use him to spell Willy T, we may be seeing him get more regular playing time as well.

One more thing: Last year, the Yankees tried to get Spilly (AND Frankie Morales) in exchange for (drumroll please...) Kyle Farnsworth. Aside from the fact that Farnsworth isn't worth a half of these players, let alone both of them, poor Spilly would be miserable on the "25 guys, 25 cabs" Yankees. I somehow don't think they'd take well to him trying to organize expeditions on the Freedom Trail in Boston. In other words, Spilly was born to be a Rockie and to send him anywhere else would result in deep unhappiness for all parties concerned. I love you dearly dearly, Ryan, but shave the damn beard. Bake is right, you do look like a terrorist.

2007 Line: .299 AVG, 11 HR, 51 RBI, .363 OBP, .485 SLG, .848 OPS
2008 Proj.: .292 AVG, 13 HR, 53 RBI, .371 OBP, .476 SLG, .847 OPS

#22 L/L Scott Podsednik: Podsednik will be under a microscope in a hurry while with the Rockies. He hasn't been really healthy since 2004, when he stole 70 bases for Milwaukee, and 2005, when he was a big part of the White Sox' championship run. Since then, he has undergone sports hernia surgeries at the end of three consecutive seasons, and he's taking over the place of Cory Sullivan, who's very popular in the clubhouse and a member of the Rockies fraternity that grew up together in the minor leagues. Also not to mention, the last left-handed older outfielder to be brought in from outside the organization for pinch-hit and bench help was an unqualified disaster. Also, it causes people to ask if the Rockies are a) going to disrupt their remarkable clubhouse chemistry for winning, and b) whether or not this is a bad thing, and c) whether Scott Eric Podsednik can help them do this better than Cory Sullivan. But Podsednik came in determined to prove he could once again be a difference-maker, and on the back of a .302 spring complimented by strong defense, he swayed Hurdle to give him the final spot on the Opening Day 25-man roster. Still, Sullivan is one of the Rockies' best defensive outfielders, and diving catches aren't to be confused with stellar overall defensive ability.

Podsednik is 34, so he's no spring chicken, but he will be asked to be a pinch-runner late in games, a spot starter, and a bat off the bench, and he will also need to perform these roles with a great deal more success than his unfortunate predecessor, or else find Sullivan called up to take his job again. It was a question of organizational depth as well with the Sully vs. Pods deathmatch, as if Sullivan won the job, Podsednik would have asked to be released in order to find big-league employment elsewhere -- with his age and track record, he's not a minor-league scrub. But he will have to both stay healthy and be effective for the Rockies to justify keeping him around, especially since it's already going to be such a closely scrutinized decision. He's making $750,000 to Sullivan's $1 million, and Sullivan is both a better defender and a long-standing friend of the key group, so if he doesn't show a spark off the bench, it's likely happy trails sooner rather than later. If nothing else, we can hope that the Rockies learned from the Finley disaster and are much quicker to pull the trigger this time if Podsednik goes down the drain early. Sullivan will assuredly be back up, but it's Podsednik's play that will see if that's in September when active rosters expand to 40, or much sooner due to incompetence. Pods' OBP (and stats in general) from last year are not pretty. Let's hope he doesn't repeat.

2007 Line: .243 AVG, 2 HR, 11 RBI, .299 OBP, .369 SLG, .668 OPS, 12 SB, 5 CS
2008 Proj.: .277 AVG, 4 HR, 22 RBI, .331 OBP, .380 SLG, .710 OPS
INC/DEC/LEV: INC, or rather, returning to slightly nearer his normal production. If he's healthy and he has Coors on his side, he could turn out to be a very underrated pickup.

#10 R/R Jeff Baker: Bake, as he's not-so-imaginatively nicknamed, plays both corner outfield and infield positions, making him a valuable weapon to have, and now that he plays second as well, you can pretty much stick him anywhere except pitcher (I'm sure he could play catcher if he put his mind to it). He hit .368 in September 2006 after his call-up, fooling some Rockies fans, myself probably included, into thinking that he was the second coming of Dante Bichette and who could play a little third and first as well. Born in Bad Kissingen, Germany (hmmm! Is this a reflection on Jeff's osculating abilities?) and growing up as the son of an Air Force father, Bake is fortunately used to bouncing around. He'll be asked to do that with the club, as he failed to lock down his part in the platoon last season due to hitting only .222; he lost all the spot starts to Sully and Spilly. He DID get a spot start on June 2 (I remember that because it was Photo Day, and I personally asked him if he was starting, as it was during Atkins' horrible slump) ... and promptly grounded into three double plays, which is never exactly the way to make a good impression. As a matter of fact, it had been almost exactly 10 years since another Rockie did it -- Eric Young on June 1, 1997 against the Marlins.

This year, he may play some outfield if Hawpe needs a little time off, and he can also spell Atkins and Helton for starts at third and first. Baker could probably be a starter elsewhere, as he's flashed a power stroke on occasion, and consistent ABs could help him rediscover it -- but he's not going to get them on this club, blocked as he is by a raft of talent ahead of him. He's also going to need to learn how to pinch-hit, as that's also what he'll be used for, and he hit a miserable 9 for 46 (.196) in PHing duty. He was briefly in the second-base derby this year, and dropped 10 pounds and worked so hard there that he now rates his best defensive position as -- yup, second base, the one he just started playing, so he can also be used in the middle infield if the rookie Nix needs an occasional break. But Bake got 26 starts last year, the fewest of anybody on the Opening Day roster, and with his positions all capably filled, he doesn't figure to see much time as a starter again this year, unless (GOD FORBID) Helton or Hawpe go down. Bake himself knows a little about going down, as I was at the August 10 game in which he got drilled in the head by a pitch from the Cubs' Jason Marquis. As I mentioned at the time, it was kind of sick -- his helmet flew off and he just lay on the ground for several minutes while I just kept saying, "Come on, Bake, come on, stand up, be okay, come on." It's never fun to see anybody take one in the noggin, but fortunately, Bake is made of tough stuff and he came away from it with only a concussion. He missed 18 games, but made it back in time for the stretch drive, and in NLDS Game 3, he had the game-winning hit. The game was tied at 1 in the bottom of the eighth, Garrett Atkins singled, and with two outs and him standing on third, Bake came off the bench to deliver the go-ahead single into right field to push the Rockies up 2-1. Three outs and Manny Corpastime later, they were headed for their first NLCS, so the Rockies faithful remember Baker affectionately for this. I also remember him affectionately because he's a very nice and funny guy who took time to chat and hang out with us at Photo Day. (I think my sister Gillian now has a small thing for him due to this). I don't think he'll be quite as bad as he was this year, but nor do I think he's particularly above-average.

2007 Line: .222 AVG, 4 HR, 12 RBI, .296 OBP, .347 SLG, .643 OPS
2008 Proj.: .260 AVG, 5 HR, 18 RBI, .315 OBP, .358 SLG, .673 OPS
INC/DEC/LEV: Very slight INC.

#12 R/R Clint Barmes: By now I am sure you all know what I think of Clint Barmes. I understand he's a very popular guy in the clubhouse, humble, good team player, and close with the rest of the guys, to which I say -- all well and good. But Clint Barmes, while being a nice guy, is shockingly atrocious at baseball. This wasn't always so -- in 2005, he was hitting .400 to start the season, had an Opening Day walk-off homer against Trevor Hoffman (the first rookie ever to hit a walk-off on Opening Day) and looked like a surefire NL Rookie of the Year and the Rockies' shortstop of the future. Then there came a small incident involving deer meat, Barmes, and a little tumble down the stairs, to which he was granted the nickname "Venison" and a sudden and unfortunate end to a promising season. The broken collarbone that resulted from this sidelined him until almost the end of 2005, and he was never the same player afterwards. Defensively, he continues to be a wiz, but he is a bona-fide black hole at the plate. He hit .320 in 25 at-bats in 2003, .282 in 71 AB in 2004, and was an AAA All-Star this year at Colorado Springs, where he went .299/11/44, but Spilly replicated that line almost exactly at the major league level and Barmes, um, did not. In 37 AB, he hit a miserable .216/0/1, and I remember precisely when this occurred (It was on August 11 against the Cubs, in a game the Rockies won 15-2, and Barmes had been put in as a late-inning sub when the Rockies began to kill the Cubs relievers. Or was that when he hit a double and scored, still to my unending surprise? Whatever, I know it was in August).

Hurdle absolutely LOVES Barmes, however (is it the first name? And I know Hurdle likes nice guys, but still.... and NO, he does not like nice guys "like that," or is it just because I have a dirty mind that I have to disclaim this?) so he made the club after the Rox traded fan-favorite Carroll, and is still (it's taking a while) proving that he can be a productive big league player. I take serious leave to doubt that this will finally unfold, and it's just a sad fact that Barmes will probably never be the player he was before the dead deer attack. Still, he'll see time as a pinch-runner, late-innings defensive sub for Atkins, and possibly one or two appearances in center field as well, a position that he started learning last year in an attempt to find more playing time. This being Barmes, he'll have to really force the issue.

2007 Line: .216 AVG, 0 HR, 1 RBI, .237 OBP, .297 SLG, .534 OPS
2008 Proj: . 224 AVG, 1 HR, 7 RBI, .282 OBP, .302 SLG, .584 OPS

#20 R/R Chris Iannetta: It's been an up-and-down road to the bigs for young backup backstop Iannetta. He's looked to as the Rockies' catcher of the future, and was thought to be a potential darkhorse Rookie of the Year pick going into 2007. It didn't happen, as Iannetta struggled with growing pains that eventually led to his demotion to AAA in August; he'd hit .158 in April, .222 in May, and .250 in June, culminating with a 1-for-8 (.042) July that sealed his fate. He is a very patient hitter (at times too patient) and he'd let himself get worked too deep into pitcher's counts, therefore limiting the number of good pitches he'd see in any given at-bat. A hard and dedicated worker, the serious and intelligent Iannetta (he graduated with a math degree from UNC Chapel Hill) took the demotion and worked with it, and on his return to the big leagues, he hit .357 in August and .308 in September. Still, Dan O'Dowd publicly announced this
spring that if Iannetta didn't show something, he'd risk being sent back to the Springs and have Edwin Bellorin be the backup catcher instead. Iannetta retorted that such an idea was "dumb" and marched out to prove it, showing that catcher will be (hopefully) a position of strength. He and Yorvit hit a combined .391 in Cactus League play, and in a game I watched last week against the Brewers, Iannetta hit a homer completely OUT of the ballpark. He has the ideal body for a catcher -- short, stocky, and very strong -- so once he does figure out how to get the ball and bat into the correct angle with each other for maximum velocity, he can definitely send them a long way. (I know from personal experience that he also has very big hands. Which is good for someone supposed to catch small speeding spheroids for a living, after all).

Catchers aren't usually power hitters, but Iannetta cranked 13 in 2005 (split between Class A Modesto and AA Tulsa) and 14 in 2006 (split between Tulsa and AAA Colorado Springs) so the stroke is definitely there; it's a matter of getting the average to consistently follow. He's hit .303 in his minor league career, so it's far from impossible. Iannetta is also quite good at catching baserunners stealing, as he has a strong arm and quick reflexes, and can just fire a bullet down to second for his buddy Tulo to lay the smackdown on the thief. (This is one area in which he easily beats Yorvit). He's also a good game-caller (no matter how much the pitching staff loves Yorvit) and has become something of Cook's personal catcher, since he recognizes that Aaron can throw pitches aside from fastballs. (Iannetta was behind the dish for Cookie's 74-pitch complete game against the Padres last year). Iannetta does have someone breathing at his heels, which is unusual for a prospect, but Michael McKenry has favorably impressed the Rockies brass and will be opening the year at High-A Modesto with a chance to move up faster. Still, if this is the year Iannetta can stand up and lay claim to the starter's job, he will see much more playing time than he did last year, and move into full-time starter mode as Yorvit's contract expires at the end of '09. He's already shown what's possible, now the trick is consistency.

2007 Line: .218 AVG, 4 HR, 27 RBI, .330 OBP, .350 SLG, .680 OPS
2008 Proj.: .266 AVG, 6 HR, 36 RBI, .344 OBP, .367 SLG, .711 OPS

Well, now that's finished, it's a little less than two hours until the Rockies open their 2007 NL Champs defense against the 2006 NL Champs (and World Series champs, which the Rockies sadly failed to get) Cardinals. I'll post lineups as soon as I see them and will otherwise liveblog.


Man, it feels good to write that and have it mean something.