Thin Air, Thin Hope

The secret Rockies formula: Prepare to meet thy doom.

Is it not time to face unpleasant facts? All the baseball theories the best minds in the game can cook up lead to the same conclusion: Trying to win at Coors Field is like shooting at the moon with a squirt gun. Ask yourself: Would a Rockies pitching staff anchored by Bob Gibson, Sandy Koufax and Nolan Ryan -- all in their prime -- be able to win the National League West? Don't count on it. By the end of their sentences in Denver, all of the veteran pitchers past administrations put so much stock in would rather have played in Detroit or carried hod in Topeka than faced another batter at Coors Field. Some, like the late Darryl Kile, rebounded at sea level; others fell apart forever. It will be interesting to see how Hampton does this season with the Braves.

Despite the encouragements of Clint Hurdle, the tender ministrations of Bob Apodaca (the Rockies' sixth pitching coach in eleven years) and the addition of veteran catcher Charles Johnson, you get the sinking feeling that the Rockies' bargain-basement young guns will find themselves in a nightmare by mid-season. Give Jennings, Stark and Aaron Cook credit for courage, but it looks more and more as though Denver, which distorts the game beyond recognition, is simply not a proper venue for baseball -- just as Baghdad is not the place for spring break.

Fred Harper

What's a fan to do? Maybe the best thing is to grin and bear it. For decades, Denver scraped and begged for a major-league team. Eleven years after getting the Rockies -- a club with an incurable disease -- we might take a lesson from Red Sox fans, who carry the Curse of the Bambino on their backs with stubborn pride. Or from the beery multitudes crammed in Wrigley Field -- all of them secure, somehow, in the bittersweet belief that their lovable Cubs will screw it up again this year. Instead of feeling crushed by disappointment or devoid of hope, perhaps the not-so-long-suffering Rockies fan should embrace his team's fate and the comic ironies that go with it. There's a certain rough beauty, after all, in the notion that things can get no worse for the home team until the big leagues expand to Mexico City and Kathmandu. Why not get in on the joke?

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