The 20 greatest moments in Colorado Rockies history
If mediocrity was a woman, she would have a restraining order on the current Rockies team. The only thing notable about this team is that Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez are both battling nagging injuries. So why not look back on the good times?
On the twentieth anniversary of Major League Baseball's awarding Denver a professional baseball team, we chronicle the twenty greatest moments in franchise history.
20. Rockies' first win: On March 6, 1993, the Rockies won their first Spring Training game against the San Francisco Giants, 7-2. David Nied struck out Barry Bonds to work out of a jam, marking the height of the "Nied for speed" era -- a disappointment considering that Nied was the first pick in the Rockies' expansion draft.
19. First no-hitter in Coors Field: Unfortunately, it was thrown by the Los Angeles Dodgers' Hideo Nomo on September 17, 1996. It was the second no-no thrown against the Rockies in the season. Colorado became the first Major League team to get no-hit twice and still win the club batting title in the same season. Hell, yeah!
18. Rockies promote Tim Ireland to Pacific Rim coordinator: Who doesn't remember where they were on January 4, 1999, when Ireland was named the point man in the franchise's Far East scouting? This earns the title of "Least notable moment on the Rockies franchise timeline," which counts "Present" as 2006.
17. Denver hosts the 1998 All-Star festivities: The All-Star game would be the highest-scoring in history, as the American League prevailed 13-8. Mark McGwire blasted a ball 510 feet off a billboard in center field during the home-run derby. Holy crap, I miss steroids.
16. Jim Leyland announces resignation: The manager held a pre-game meeting on September 6, 1999, and told his players he would resign at season's end in order to spend more time with his family. In a sign that he either hates his family or was desperate to get away from a team that finished 28 games out of first place, he has been managing the Detroit Tigers since 2006.
15. Todd Helton eclipses a .400 batting average: On August 21, 2000, Helton had two hits in his first three at-bats against Atlanta at home and brought his season batting average to .400 before finishing the night at .398. It was the latest in a season a player had reached that mark since George Brett did so on Sept. 4, 1980. Helton finished the season leading the National League with a .372 average.
14. Rockies notch their millionth customer: On Mothers Day, 1993, Lydia McKee, a mother of two, became the one millionth fan through the gates at Mile High Stadium. The Rockies reached this mark in just seventeen home games, breaking the previous record held by the 1992 Toronto Blue Jays, proving again that Canada is our bitch.
13. Rockies spend a shitload of money: In the 2011 off-season, the Rockies broke character and dished out almost $250 million in extensions for Tulowitzki, Gonzalez and Jorge De La Rosa. All three are currently injured, with De La Rosa done for the year and needing Tommy John surgery. Tulo and Cargo also started the season slow and are underachieving per their standards. But it was really exciting when the Rockies made it rain several months ago.
12. Larry Walker wins 1997 NL MVP: The right-fielder became the first Rockies player to win the award and was voted first on 22 of the 28 ballots submitted. He led the league with 49 home runs, hit .366 and won a Gold Glove. He was also the first Canadian to win the MVP. Wait, who cares about Canada? It's our bitch.
11. Clint Barmes fractures his left collarbone while carrying deer meat: While leading NL rookies in most offensive categories, Barmes fell while carrying a package of deer meat he got from Helton. Barmes ended up missing 78 games in 2005, which the Rockies might as well refer to as "The year of the injury." Barmes is now mentioned anytime a player injures himself doing something stupid.
10. Rockies terminate pitcher Denny Neagle's contract: In 2000, the team signed Neagle and fellow pitcher Mike Hampton to monstrous contracts, ushering in the era when Rockies fans drank, like, a lot. They both mostly sucked, but in December 2004, Neagle provided the Rockies with an opportunity to void the last year of his $51 million deal . He was pulled over for speeding when the officer noticed signs he had been drinking, as well as Neagle's unbuttoned pants. He explained that he was "just getting comfortable," but the woman with him admitted he had paid her $40 for oral sex. And with that, the Rockies activated a morals clause in his contract, saving some cash. They may still be paying Hampton, though.
9. Rockies finish inaugural season with most wins by NL expansion team: The team notched only 67 victories, tied for the second-worst season in franchise history -- but it was great for a brand-new team. Andres Galarraga won the NL batting title, and the team drew nearly four and a half million fans to a football stadium.
8. Rockies open Coors Field in style: On April 26, 1995, Dante Bichette launched a three-run homer in the fourteenth inning to beat the New York Mets in the first game at 20th and Blake. It's reported that several high-fives were exchanged.
7. Ubaldo Jimenez throws the franchise's first no-hitter: On April 17, 2010, not a single Atlanta Brave did his job. Jimenez struck out seven and hit 100 mph three times during the game. This was part of an amazing first half of the season for Jimenez, who would start for the NL All-Star team.
6. Eric Young blasts the Rockies into existence: On the first regular season at-bat by a Rockie, second baseman Young crushed a home run, a sign of things to come in the thin Colorado air. The Rockies went on to win their first game 11-4 over the Montreal Expos (Did I mention we own Canada?).
5. Jim Tracy takes over: A year and a half after taking Colorado to the World Series, manager Clint Hurdle was relieved of his duties following a 19-28 start. On May 29, 2009, Tracy was handed the keys to the franchise, and in his first 28 games behind the wheel, the team only lost seven. The Rocks went on to win a franchise-record 92 games and take the NL Wild Card. They lost in the first round of the playoffs to the eventual World Series Champion Philadelphia Phillies.
4. Rockies make the playoffs for the first time: On October 1, 1995, the Rockies defeated the San Francisco Giants 10-9, earning the National League Wild Card. This made the Rockies the first expansion team to make the post-season prior to its eighth year of competition. They were swept in the first round by the Atlanta Braves.
3. The 2007 streak: On September 1, 2007, the Rockies were six games back in the NL West, trailing three teams. They proceeded to go 20-8 for the month, winning fourteen of their final fifteen games, including eleven in a row. Matt Holliday and Tulowitzki led the team down the stretch, and Colorado finished in a tie for the Wild Card with the San Diego Padres, setting the stage for...
2. The 2007 play-in game: In a classic Coors Field game, the teams were tied at six at the end of nine innings. In the top of the thirteenth inning, a Scott Hairston home run made it 8-6. Doubles by Kaz Matsui and Tulowitzki set the stage for a Holliday triple that tied the game. One batter later, Jamey Carrol hit a sacrifice fly, and Holliday slid across the plate as safe as any player who may not have touched the plate has ever been. The comeback came against all-time saves leader Trevor Hoffman.
1. "Rocktober": After the Rocks sent the Padres and their legion of fans packing to whine about the Holliday play, they kept winning -- for a while. A first-round sweep of the Phillies was followed by a sweep of the Arizona Diamondbacks and a berth in the franchise's first World Series. The Rockies won twenty of their final twenty-one games to finish the regular season and romp through the first two rounds of the playoffs. Fans were all hyped up, and the team sold out the series in two and a half hours after a first attempt crashed the online ticket-selling system. Then Josh Beckett and the rest of the Boston Red Sox happened. The Rockies were swept in the World Series and left to wonder "What the fuck just happened?"
More from our Baseball archive: "Colorado Rockies: Top five storylines heading into the season."
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