Luke Graham's column appears periodically in the Steamboat Today. Contact him at 970-871-4229 or lgraham@SteamboatToday.com.
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Steamboat Springs It’s fall, and every person has football on the mind.
That’s fine. But fall also means baseball season enters its most intriguing portion of the year.
Playoff baseball can be an amazing thing.
The intensity is ratcheted up across the board. Of course, with football in play, not a lot of people watch. Baseball fans are of a different breed. They’re the thinkers and oftentimes over thinkers.
It’s clear as a baseball fan that I over thought just about every prediction I made earlier this year.
The Colorado Rockies aren’t winning the National League West. In fact, the team has been one of the biggest disappointments in Colorado sports history.
Too much went wrong. Certainly the team can place some blame on injuries. Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez each missed time, Jorge De La Rosa was done for the season, and the team has used more starting pitchers than any other team in the league.
Unfortunately, there are several cold, hard realities the Rockies must address. The reality of the situation is the team wasn’t very talented. Outside of Tulowitzki, Gonzalez and Todd Helton, there wasn’t enough talent to carry the team.
The rotation couldn’t handle the loss of De La Rosa and the unexpected regression of Ubaldo Jimenez.
But maybe the biggest thing the Rockies must address — outside of bridging the talent gap — has everything to do with the mental makeup of the team.
Tulowitzki has been deemed a great player and the face of the franchise. Rightfully so. He’s the best shortstop in the league and potentially one of the five best players in the game. But with expectations high, the team has failed. That falls on the leadership of the team and Tulowitzki’s shoulders. He has to be better.
But the team has never dealt well with any expectations. Look back at the history of the franchise, and anytime there are any sort of expectations on the team, Colorado flounders.
After making the World Series in 2007, the team missed the playoffs in 2008. After making the playoffs in 2009, the Rockies will spend the fall at home for the second straight season.
The good thing is the team plays in the NL West. It’s one of the most interesting — and mediocre — divisions in baseball.
The Arizona Diamondbacks proved that a team can go from worst to first in a year.
So don’t count out the 2012 season.
Besides, the Rockies should flourish. They won’t have any expectations.
To reach Luke Graham, call 970-871-4229 or email lgraham@SteamboatToday.com