It’s early April, and everyone in Denver knows what that means: Opening Day. That fabled day comes on Friday, April 6, at 2:10 p.m. (Though the day drinking starts pretty much whenever you get up, find the jersey that’s been in the back of your closet since last fall, and Uber into LoDo.) The Rockies will host the Atlanta Braves and try to start a home season that rivals the legendary run of 2007, when the Rockies hit every green light on a street-race to the World Series. (We shall not speak of the series itself.)
So how do the Rockies invoke the spirits of solid baseball? Here’s a seventh-inning stretch of a list of the Colorado Rockies 2018 to-dos.
7. Make the Playoffs Again
Sure, it sounds a little Yogi Berra (“You wouldn’t have won if we’d beaten you”), but making the playoffs isn’t just a goal in and of itself; it’s also about showing up as a playoff threat more than one season at a time before needing to rebuild. Making the playoffs in 2017 was good; making the playoffs again in 2018 is worlds better. The Rockies want to be a force in their division because division forces are perennial playoff teams.
6. Enjoy the Beard While the Beard Is Ours
There's some good news and some bad news. Charlie Blackmon is entering his walk year. Traditionally, that means he and his vaunted beard will be playing at the top of his form, because he’s going to be determining his value in free agency. That’s the bright side. The dark cloud beneath that silver lining is that Blackmon goes open-market after this season.
5. Same with DJ LeMahieu…
And only one year later, Nolan Arenado. The Rockies are ripe to win in 2018, but in part because they stand to lose some serious talent not too long after. The Rockies, to completely abuse the metaphor, need to strike while the baseball iron is hot.
It’s just a Major League Baseball rule at this point: Top pitchers don’t like Coors Field. It has a reputation for squelching stats, and since baseball is a game of numbers, that’s a serious thing. So, yes, pitching is a perennial problem for the Rockies, and one of the solutions has been to try to build a homegrown pitching rotation. Bud Black and company have put together a pretty strong staff, including Denver native Kyle Freeland.
3. Expect Big Things From CarGo
Fan favorite Carlos Gonzalez got an $8 million single-year contract...so let’s make the most of that. Let him strengthen our defensive play, and put him in a position to recapture the hitting magic of the second half of 2017, especially September, when CarGo batted .377 for the month. That’s the CarGo we need; that’s the CarGo the Rockies (and fans) hope shows up.
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2. Don’t Listen to the Experts
The Rockies are the subject of a lot of talk in 2018, based on some of their moves in the off-season and also based on their play in 2017. On paper, the Rocks are strong — but as we all know, good on paper and good on the field are two very different things. And the experts are split anyway: Some are saying this is Colorado’s year, and others are saying that all those upsides are going to be completely squandered at Coors Field. The truth? Only time will tell. Just keep playing baseball.
Last year’s record was 87 and 75. That’s not stellar, but it suggests that the Rockies are heading in the right direction. But none of that matters. Baseball is a game of heart and mind as much as it is one of physicality. That’s where the romance of the game comes from, why Field of Dreams will always be a great movie, why we still play catch in the park and don a jersey and head out to the old ballgame. Never say die, Rockies. Straight on ’til Rockctober.