Levity in baseball after a cold, dark news week

After a pretty rough week news-wise, made worse by relentless gloomy weather, we all need the levity of a little baseball talk.

While it’s a nice dream sequence right now, as much as I hate to say it, when the weather finally warms up, the Rockies have to start losing baseball games.

Everyone knows neither of these things is going to last. When the sun comes out, Colorado will remember that they don’t know how to pitch.

After sweeping the Mets this week, the Rockies lead the NL West at 11-4 overall, entering a weekend series with the D-Backs. Obviously, this is a much better than expected start to their year.

Some blowhard national writer (Keith Law) predicted that the Rockies would win a measely 50 games this year, meaning they lose 112 and flirt with all-time futility. When playing at Coors Field, with guys like Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez, there’s little chance your team will be that bad.

Who was the worst team of all-time? The Cleveland Spiders went 20-134 to complete the worst season on record in 1899. So bad, that in their final game they somehow ended up with a cigar stand clerk from the Queen City Hotel on the mound. They lost 19-3.

A pretty hilarious story, the Spiders were bought by brothers Frank and Stanley Robinson who already owned the St. Louis Browns, ownership later to be found a conflict of interest. Eventually they renamed the Browns the Perfectos. The Robinsons openly admitted their intentions in running the Spiders “as a sideshow.”

Cleveland fans followed suit, classic to Cleveland any sports following. The Spiders had a total attendance of 3,179 people through their first 16 games, less than 200 people per game. Opposing teams refused to travel to Cleveland for games because the ticket revenue was too low to reimburse travel and hotel costs.

During that season, according to baseball-almanac.com, the Spiders were called names including the Exiles, Barnstormers, Forsakens and the Wanderers. Old timey baseball teams had the best nicknames. Thankfully, some minor league ball clubs still have the Wingnuts to keep their names weird.

Baseball is great.

I know it seems a little harsh to be discussing the worst baseball team ever while talking about this year’s Colorado Rockies, and maybe I just wanted to tell that story.

Because it’s funny.

But with the Rox flimsy pitching rotation, as they say, anything is possible.

There’s plenty of classic Rockies hate, and, admittedly, I’ve bought into some of it. I’m aware that the hiring of a high school coach as your manager after a 98-loss season is a pretty bold move. By bold I mean naïve, and by that I mean infantile — in appearance at least.

Pitching is something of a trivial element to the game in Colorado. Like whether or not you wear long purple socks with your pants, or you wear long pants that reach all the way down to your cleats.

I feel like if Jeff Francis’ left arm was hit by a truck, and he had to throw with his right, no one would really notice. Why does this guy keep getting re-signed?

He won’t be in the Rockies rotation by July.

In a clear pitchers era, signing at least one ace has been obvious to everyone outside Colorado, even when they play the Giants 12 times a year, a team that operates with an inverse philosophy. The difference: San Fran wins a World Series.

Everyone knows the Rockies have their problems. I just get tired of hearing Mr. Fancyboy East Coast Sports Writer, whose baseball knowledge is derived directly from being raised near baseball gods in New Yawk: “The thin air in the high elevation of the mountainous Colorado ball park essentially makes the size of the ball similar to that of a beach ball, thus easier to hit. The speed drops to a little league pace, at times 55 mph, allowing the most mediocre of hitter to put bat to ball and send it flying deep into the Coors Field seats.”

We’ve all read it, it’s easy to hit in Denver. Duh. That doesn’t mean the franchise is void of great players. Todd Helton is a Hall of Famer, so just quit it.

Hard transition. Speaking of baseball, I heard this week that numbers were down for Webb Wright leagues. Ridiculous. Let me say this nicely, little kid, what the heck else do you have to do this summer?

Do me a favor, go rent the The Sandlot and watch it right now. Put down whatever you’re doing, don’t even read the rest of this. Find it on Netflix, somewhere on the internet, just go find it and watch it. Somebody probably posted on Facebook yesterday next to the picture of their baby and that stupid cat meme. It won’t be hard to find.

Parents, buy your kid a pair of all-black PF Flyers, tell them that your neighbor is James Earl Jones and he was buddies with Babe Ruth. Then, forge the Great Bambino’s signature on an old tattered baseball, and convince your kid to play with it until it flies over the fence. Believe me, kid, you never want to be the one who gets yelled at on the pick-up field, “You play ball like a girl!”

Seriously, the rumored deterioration of youth baseball is as scary to me as the Cold War probably was to a child in the 80s. The threat is probably not real, but oh man, if it is, that’s enough to make me want to hide under my desk.

Just think, maybe someday you’ll play for the Rockies. Walt Wiess gets to coach them, what’s to say you can’t pitch for him next year?

About

Brad Estes

Sheridan Press sports editor

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