Sunday, July 25, 2010

Underdog a role Rockies embrace too much

Aaron Cook said it best on Friday night after the Rockies 5-0 loss to Roy Halladay and the Phillies.

"We have run into some good pitching," said Cook. "That happens sometimes in baseball."

That pretty much sums up where the Colorado Rockies currently sit as an organization. The Rockies are a talented bunch, there is little doubt about that. They have the talent to be a great team. However, they don't believe that they can be winners.

Despite making the playoffs in two of the last three years, the Rockies seem to embrace the underdog role. Despite being picked by many of the experts to return to the playoffs for the third time in four years, the Rockies seem to talk and play as if they are the league's little brother.

Cook's statement may be true. The Rockies have in fact ran into some very good pitching. However, so have the Marlins and Phillies. Both of those clubs were not intimidated when they faced All-Star game starter Ubaldo Jimenez. They both made sure to bring their best game. On Sunday, the Phillies were not intimidated by Jeff Francis, who owned them in the 2007 playoffs and was coming off a seven inning shutout of the Marlins.

The problem with always being the underdog is that it makes it alright to fail. When the team isn't the favorite, winning is a benefit, it is not expected.

That makes it easy for the Rockies to fail. If they don't go out and win on the road, they can use the underdog excuse.

If the club ever wants to be a true contender they need to recreate the way people around baseball view the Colorado Rockies. Instead of being the team that consistently lost 85-90 games in the early 2000's, the Rockies of 2010 need to embrace their success and view themselves as a team that expects to be in the playoffs, not a team that surprises everyone by playing in October.

When they face teams like the Phillies and starting pitchers like Josh Johnson and Roy Halladay they need to quit being intimidated. They need to know that runs will be hard to come by, but that they have good enough pitching that if they are able to scratch out a couple of runs, they might just be able to win that ball game.

Instead, these Rockies play intimidated and hope for better results the next day. Playing baseball like that will continue to keep the Rockies on the second tier of the games best teams.

The thing that is frustrating about it for Rockies fans is that the team seems to be turning that corner. They nearly swept the Red Sox at home, then swept the Cardinals in a drama-filled series before the All-Star break. Shades of the team that the Rockies are on paper finally started to show up.

However, as quickly as the Rockies seemed to be reaching their potential, they quickly reverted back to their second-class ways. They become a different team on the road and they play as if they are the junior varsity team hoping to squeak by the varsity team and celebrate a huge upset.

It is still July, and there is plenty of baseball left to be played. However, if the Rockies do not figure out how to become a team that expects to win every night, than they will continue riding the roller coaster that they have been on for the entire 2010 season.

For more on the Rockies visit RockiesReview.com

This articles is also featured on INDenverTimes.com

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