Now I spend most of my evenings and morning commutes listening to nationally syndicated sports talk radio on ESPN Radio or sometimes even Fox Sports Radio. What has been absolutely killing me lately is that the Rockies are never mentioned by any of the talking heads as being contenders in the NL playoff picture.
Maybe that is a good thing. The Rockies are sneaking up on those leading teams that have been getting all the TV and radio coverage.
The Dodgers, under the mastermind Joe Torre, have been all the rage this year. There have been many “experts” on baseball that say the Dodgers are the best team in baseball. Well, guess what? As of Tuesday morning, the Rockies have climbed up to within five-and-a-half games of the NL West leading-Dodgers and are a full game ahead of the Giants in taking the NL Wildcard slot. Could it be that a baseball team from Denver, not exactly known as a great baseball city, takes the division lead from the Dodgers? Is it possible?
In my severely biased but accurate opinion the Rockies are the best team in the National League right now and that will be official at the end of the regular season. Hear me now: The Rockies are the best team in the National League.
If you have been watching the Rockies lately, you know what I am talking about. How about NL MVP candidate Troy Tulowitzski’s performance on Monday against the flailing Cubbies when he hit for the cycle? There is nothing better than watching a hitter going for the cycle, with the only thing left to get the cycle is a triple, which is, hands-down, the most exciting play in baseball. Tulo could have been easily thrown out but the Cubs defense was miserable and he slid in for the cycle at third. Oh yeah, Tulo also had a career night with seven RBIs and five hits.
But the Rockies aren’t just winning with hitting in the thin Rocky Mountain air, either. Tulo’s sweet hitting on Monday shadowed over a fine pitching performance put forth by Jorge De La Rosa, who picked up his 10th strait win after going 0-8 to start the season off. De La Rosa pitched seven-and-two-thirds innings with 11 strikeouts. The young and speedy rookie Dexter Fowler got on his horse in center field to make a catch while smashing into the wall.
Monday evening’s game was a great example of how the Rox are playing, in general, right now. Hot hitting. Spot-on (and often gutsy) pitching performances by its rotation, and great defense in the field. Oh, yeah, the Rockies have an effective bullpen, too. Closer Huston Street is turning into that closer you can’t wait to get on the field in the ninth. He is so reliable right now.
The Rockies stalwart first-baseman (and former Tennessee Volunteer) Todd Helton is also pulling his weight on the team, with a 15-game hitting streak (as of Monday).
What I think most sports talking heads are missing right now is how fun it is to watch the Rockies compete. Stats and wins in the win column mean a lot. What I have noticed with this particular Rockies team this year is that they are really fun to watch. Definitely more so than previous years. And when a team is just fun to watch, they are usually pretty damn good. The Rockies are damn good.
If you are tired of Friends reruns or can’t just need a night away from Sex and the City reruns, put on the Rockies. It is entertaining and fun, and this is a team worth rooting for. As this season dwindles down, I guarantee high drama in upcoming baseball games involving the Rockies.
With the Rockies within spitting distance of the Dodgers, the last third of the season is going to be great. To keep a hold on the wildcard slot, they are going to have to play the Giants well in three remaining series with them (Aug. 21-24, Aug. 28-30 and Sept. 14-16.)
The Rockies will also have plenty of opportunity to take the NL West lead from the Dodgers in two remaining series (Aug. 25-27 and Oct. 2-4). The playoffs are certainly in the Rockies future. Whether it is a wildcard slot or NL West champion I don’t know, but if I were in Vegas, I would put a sizable amount of money on the Rockies ending their regular season as NL West Champions.