|Corey Dickerson has been a bright spot in 2014.|
That statement is sarcastic and condescending, but this is the time of year when the unrealistic Rockies fans come out. It is the time when fans point to the fact that the Rockies, despite their struggles, are still just a few games back of that final wild card position.
The worst thing about the additional wild card has been that it keeps a false hope alive for bad baseball teams like the Colorado Rockies. Rockies fans are going to point to Nolan Arenado returning, Tyler Chatwood and Brett Anderson returning to the starting rotation, and Carlos Gonzalez coming back from a strange finger injury and help the Rockies get back to where they need to be.
This time of year when the standings don't point to the truth. It is far too easy for the hopeless romantic Rockies fan to log on to MLB.com, click on the standings tab, see that the Rockies are only 6.5 games back of the final wild card spot and believe that the Rockies just need to go on a run.
Maybe it was a product of the improbable runs of 2007 and 2009, maybe it is just the nature of being a fan, but the reality is, the Rockies are already playing for 2015.
Let's be fair. No one was expecting the Rockies to go to the playoffs in 2014. The early success that the club experienced is the reason that this club started to revive the hopes of their fan base. This was a team that lost 88 games a year ago and made a few moves to improve, but still had much of their hope residing in Double-A. That talent is starting to surface at the big league level, but to expect the Rockies to contend in 2014 was a product of a great April start and a careless owner saying that the club could win 90 games.
Starts like Sunday's are going to be the norm for quite some time for the younger pitchers. In the finale against the Brewers, it was Tyler Matzek's turn. The lefty was decent. He gave up runs, but got some good outs as well. He struggled at points, but also showed some positive signs for the future.
For Rockies fans, they have to allow time for the newer, younger pitchers to get their feet wet at the big league level. They have to expect that there will be struggles along the way. As long as there is growth along the way, as long as the pitchers are showing signs that they are improving and learning how to succeed at the big league level, the Rockies and their fans should be alright with it.
No one wants to see their team spiral out of control. No one wants to admit that their team isn't going to make the playoffs on the first full day of summer. However, realism also takes away some of the stress of being a hardcore fan. Expectations must be adjusted. This Rockies team is in the process of proving to fans that they are in the development business. They have failed at developing talent for years, but this newest wave is out to show everyone that the Rockies might actually know what they are doing. In order to evaluate that talent properly, patience will be required.
The key for the Rockies is to see that improvement from their young pitchers, but also to see a demand for excellence from the rest of the organization. There has to be a demand that, even if the Rockies aren't quite up to playoff level in 2014, that they are going to play as if they need to win every game. This team doesn't have to simply develop talent, they also have to develop a winning mentality, one without excuses and one that clearly is looking to improve.
If the Rockies can continue to get better, while getting their young starting pitchers experience, they may have a shot at making a run at the playoffs in 2015.
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