The Rockies hit the dog-meat days of summer.

While we wait, Rockies fans are more aware than ever that the honeymoon is over. But for too long, the Rockies have been the wayward spouse, staying out late, refusing to go to work the next day and making lots of lame excuses.

"I've just about had it," said purple-and-black-clad Ted Bayless, who's been going to Rockies games regularly since Eric Young cranked that first home run over the wall at Mile High Stadium. "Listen, I understand loyalty and all that, but there are some other things going on in this state that a lot of us could be doing besides watching a ballclub that can't beat anybody. I mean, Jesus. Cincinnati just unloaded one of their best pitchers (Denny Neagle, sent to the Yankees) and are apparently giving up the season, but they come in here and sweep the Rockies? What's going on?"

Denverites who've never lived on the North Side of Chicago or in Boston may not grasp the true meaning of fidelity, but Bayless, too, has a point. "I pay -- what? -- 25 bucks for these seats, and these guys come out here and stink up the joint? I'll stick with the team as much as the next guy, but there's a limit. Believe me, a lot of people in this town can't wait for the football season to start. And the Broncos were six and ten last year!"

As the old Swiss aphorism warns: "Marriage is a covered dish."

On the other hand, perennial optimists -- the kind of people you meet at the racetrack and the all-you-can-eat buffet -- point out that the Rockies are only six and a half games out of first place. They say anything can happen in a 162-game season. They say Sandy Koufax is retired and Mel Ott is dead, so the Rox won't have to face them in late September. The optimists believe that Pedro Astacio is a real ace, that Larry Walker's sore wing will soon be as good as new and that the newfangled, speeded-up Rockies -- call 'em the Rolling Stones -- will be there in the end, lousy pitching and the Arizona Diamondbacks be damned.

Little matter that the Rox dropped two of three to pitiful San Diego over the weekend.

Fan Chris Chambers declared himself among this sunny-minded group last Tuesday, just before the Rockies, cut loose at last from the horrors of the streak, annihilated the Oakland A's at Coors Field, 18-3. "You wait," he said. "They're good. They're really good. I like Todd Helton. And Larry Walker. And Tom Goodwin is my favorite. I mean, they're cool. See, I got their hat. They're gonna go to the World Series."

Well, maybe. On the other hand, Chris Chambers is eight years old, and he never got to see Mickey Mantle bunt.

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