|Tulowitzki's return didn't spark a lifeless Rockies offense.|
On Tuesday night, after the Rockies had made journeyman Eric Stults look like a Hall of Famer, Jerry Schemmel, the voice of the Rockies on 850 KOA, and employee of the Rockies, took to Twitter to announce that fans shouldn't be shocked that the Rockies couldn't score runs because they were missing Troy Tulowitzki, Dexter Fowler and Carlos Gonzalez.
Well, what is Schemmel's reasoning on Thursday night? The Rockies were shutout by the Chris Capuano and the Los Angeles Dodgers 6-1. The irony is that the lack of scoring came the night that the club got both Fowler and Tulowitzki back from injury.
Make no mistake, Capuano is no ace. In fact, he is barely a guy who has a spot in his own rotation. Less than two weeks removed from being relegated to the bullpen and skipping a start, the Dodgers lefty came out and dominated the Rockies. He went 6-1/3 innings, shutting out the Rockies in those frames, striking out eight and not giving up a walk.
The reality of baseball is that throughout 162 games, even the best offenses will struggle. Even the most potent lineup will get dominated by a less-that-good starting pitcher. It happens. Baseball is a long season, so weird things happen. However, the Rockies have made a habit of making very bad starting pitchers feel really good about themselves.
Two nights ago it was Stults, Thursday night it was Capuano. Plain and simple, there is no excuse for it. A team that wants to contend cannot come out and lay an egg every other night. Road games are tough in the big leagues, but good teams find ways to win on the road. Good teams take advantage of nights when they get to face Chris Capuano and not Clayton Kershaw.
From the TV side, Drew Goodman, who is a very good announcer, one of the best in the business, continued to credit Capuano and the Dodgers all night long. That is fine. Give them credit where it is due, but at some point, it is insulting to fans to suggest that the Rockies struggles on Thursday night were anything more than self-induced. Especially considering the trend that the team has been on throughout the road trip.
Announcers have nothing to do with the game being played on the field. They don't throw pitches, they don't swing the bat, they don't put together the game plan. However, these are guys who are approved by the team that they announce. On the KOA side, Schemmel and Jack Corrigan are actually team employees. What that means is that the message that the club wants to relay to fans is clearly spelled out for these guys. That message is one of excuses. It is one that says the team is willing to jump on any reason for struggling. If guys are hurt, blame injuries, if guys aren't hurt, talk up the opposing pitcher. If the Rockies starter gets lit up, talk about how good the opposition's lineup is.
These guys cater to their audience. Of course most Rockies fans don't want to hear Goodman or Schemmel rip the team, but at some point, they should say it like it is.
The concern is, if announcers are giving reasons why this team deserves to be let off of the hook for their struggles, what is the message in the clubhouse? Those who watched in 2012 know that the excuse-making became so prevalent that general manager Dan O'Dowd was going on radio shows talking about how the injuries they had sustained had sabotaged the season.
Teams that win division titles, pennants and ultimately World Series' don't give reasons why they struggle. They acknowledge the struggles and find ways to get through them. They believe that they are still the better team and that over the course of a season, that will prove true in the end. The Rockies don't want to acknowledge that they need to get better, so they make excuses. Excuses lead to losing, plain and simple.
The early success of the 2013 Rockies made it easy to forget about the excuses. The team was winning, they were playing team baseball and they were getting both good pitching and hitting. When that ended, the Rockies didn't talk about how they were going to get back on track, they started making excuses and talking about how good the other team is. That kind of talk is what comes from underdogs. Everyone loves to root for the underdog, but the ultimate goal is to be on a team that is so good they are always the favorites.
It would have been a bigger story had the Rockies offense actually brought their bats to the park. However, Drew Pomeranz continued his struggles. He went just four innings, walking five batters and giving up three runs on seven hits. He struck out four as well.
Even with the walks, Pomeranz did look slightly better. He wasn't as afraid to throw strikes as he has shown in his first two starts. However, he still doesn't live in the strike zone enough. He wasn't able to get it done when he needed to.
The struggles of Pomeranz are concerning because the Rockies simply don't have options behind him. There really isn't a choice but to let him go out every fifth day and struggle on the mound. With Roy Oswalt injuring his hamstring and Juan Nicasio replacing him, the depth that the Rockies possess in Triple-A isn't anywhere close to ready to lead a big league team to victory.
The reality is, this Rockies team probably had no business contending in the first place. If the National League West wasn't so average, they would be buried and fans could start talking about how much progress they have made and how they might be good enough to be contenders in 2014 if they continue to grow. Instead, they play in a division that lets the Rockies believe that, despite being five runs under .500, they are within a good week of first place.
If the Rockies want to get serious about winning, they have to start calling themselves out. They need to be able to look in the mirror and be their own biggest critic. Instead of getting offended by any criticism that is pushed in their direction, they should be the ones doing the self-criticizing.
Winning teams have winning mindsets. Losing teams make excuses. Take a look at what is said from those associated with the Rockies and determine which category this team fits into.
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