In recent years, the Rockies, right as their fans give up on them, go on a streak to climb back into contention.
While watching the team race to the finish is undoubtedly fun, it doesn't necessarily bode well for the team. Not only is every game down the stretch crucial, so much energy is spent on the race, that none is left for the playoff run.
Because of the recent April history for the Rockies, a 7-2 start makes it easy to get excited. Fans aren't used to seeing the team be anywhere near first place before Memorial Day, let alone Easter. The question right now is, when is it appropriate to be excited?
Sure, the Rockies are 7-2. They are in first place in the National League West. They have already beat the Dodgers twice, and they won a four game series in Pittsburgh, something that has eluded them in recent years. The most exciting part of the first nine games, however, has been the way the Rockies have won these games.
Both losses have come in extra innings. Both losses included the Rockies having the winning or go-ahead runs in scoring position in extra frames. The reality is, this club is two swings of the bat away from being undefeated. In addition to their two losses being so close to wins, the Rockies have won several games that they would have found a way to lose in 2010.
On the road in 2010, it seemed like when the Rockies went down by a run or two, they slumped down and lost confidence. They quit playing baseball and started trying to play home run derby at the plate, as if they had only one chance to win the game.
Already in 2011, that old mentality is nowhere to be found. This team scratches out runs. They find ways to move runners over. They get on base and get hits when they need to. Their pitching doesn't fold regularly when they have a lead.
Still, the fact remains, the Rockies are only nine games into a 162-game season. There is a lot of baseball left to be played. Getting excited about being in first place comes with the sober reality that the Cleveland Indians and Baltimore Orioles are also teams that are currently in first place.
So is it too early for Rockies fans to be excited? The answer to that is no. The Rockies have played great baseball so far, something that has been completely foreign to them in April. The excitement should be reserved. Nine games is too early to crown them the NL West champs. However, nine games is enough to see what a team is made of. It is clear that this team has the talent to compete for the title.
Full-fledged excitement should be bottled up until somewhere around the middle of May. If the Rockies can keep up their pace for the first six weeks, their early success is no fluke. Until then, Rockies fans should just be excited to be 7-2 in April, rather than 2-7.
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