Seeing Troy Tulowitzki wearing a bright blue helmet and blasting a monster, double-decker home-run last night was one of the weirder sports experiences of my life. All the trade rumors over the past three or four years could never have prepared me to see the over-sized Shortstop wearing anything other than purple. Not only was he in a lineup for a team playing outside of the United States but he was batting….FIRST. Tulo…leadoff man for the Toronto Blue Jays.
It was bizarre to be sure and for years to come seeing his name on any leader board or on any highlight with anything other than the Rockies’ logo near his name will weird me out to no end. That being said, I’ve seen columns and posts by the dozens exclaiming how heartbroken fans are and how they have nothing to cheer for anymore. I just don’t see it that way.
I am as thorough of a Rockies fan as there can possibly be (at least in my own mind) and I have struggled through their horrendousness for 20 plus years and I still watch them every chance I get. I watch them without the hope of a great season and without the faintest expectation of making the playoffs. For years and years I went in to the season with an insane feeling that somehow THIS would be the year that they would figure things out and stay healthy and win on the road and…and..and…and….Then, year after year, nothing changed. The team is always terrible on the road, is always hurt and can never pitch. No matter the manager, no matter the lineup and the superstars in the lineup, my beloved boys in purple sucked. Since 2009 just NOT finishing in last place in the National League has been a victory for the team and that is just depressing. Still, I watch, go to games and read endless recaps detailing how the Rockies lost yet another game because (insert excuse).
Troy Tulowitzki has been one of my favorite players since he was called up in 2007 and the team made the historic run of 21 wins in 22 games and made it all the way to the World Series. His jump throws and twirling/jumping pirouettes to somehow make a play on defense will always be one of my favorite things I’ve watched as a Rockies fan. His incredible September where he hit something like 15 home runs in one month and his fiery, winning nature are all memories that will never, ever be taken away. Something I try to forget though is the simple fact that even with him in the lineup and healthy and playing well…the team continues to lose. Even with a lineup that’s been healthy nearly an entire year (which is unusual for the team) and has Allstars all throughout the lineup, the Rockies head into tonight’s game 13 games below .500. SOMETHING had to change.
The front office now led by first year GM, Jeff Bridich, warned players and fans alike this Spring that if this team didn’t perform as they should and if they had a sub-par season, big changes were coming. As baseball fans in the Mile High City we are used to having zero trust in the front office and we all really put little to no significance behind his words. In our minds he was a Dan O’dowd disciple who would be as gutless and worthless as his predecessor….(s?) Bridich made a few small signings in the offseason, picking up Brett Hundley (who’s been a stud), John Axford (who had been a stud before falling to pieces) and Kyle Kendrick (who has straight up been the worst pitcher in baseball). These moves didn’t help in giving the fan base happy thoughts towards the F.O of the Rockies. That all changed on Monday night when Mr Bridich pulled off the biggest trade in franchise history. Like the trade or not, it was a change and a shakeup of things that this organization has needed for years. The front office has finally come to the realization that in today’s baseball there’s ONE THING that you must have to win baseball games. Pitching.
The Rockies got back three young, studly pitchers in the deal as well as veteran speedy SS, Jose Reyes. As for if Reyes is here for the long term or to just be turned around in another trade for more young pitching has yet to be seen. Still, the biggest pieces were the young pitchers that have bolstered the farm system to better pitching depth than the team has ever had. All three of them are big bodied guys that throw high in the 90’s and have high ceilings in terms of talent. The big bodied, fireballers are clearly becoming a trend in the farm system and it’s nice to see a new idea and path to winning and pitching at Coors Field. Will the youngsters pan out? No one knows nor will they know for another 3 to 5 years. Tulo could become the Hall of Famer that he has the ability to become if healthy, the prospects could be duds as many, especially pitching prospects become but for now we can only judge it as a change in the lineup a change in the team and a change in the culture.
I don’t like losing one of the most talented players in franchise history near the height of his
prime for a bunch of guys that are too young to crack open a beer after a game. As any fan, I hate losing a guy I’ve cheered for since I was 18 years old and hoped would be there til I’m 38. But in sports like in life, change hurts and is confusing and hard but often times it’s the best thing that could happen and maybe it’s a breath of fresh air this team needs to find a way to win.
After all, winning cures all.
(I’ll be whole heartedly cheering for the Toronto Blue Jays for the remainder of the season and as long as Tulo is part of the team!)