|The Rockies use the altitude as an excuse.|
BY: TOM OLSON
The Denver Bears and Denver Zephyrs played baseball at altitude and played the game with success. The City of Denver (as far as I know) has not shrunk in height over the years, as some older people do. It is still the same altitude now as it has always been.
The climate has probably changed since the Denver Bears and Denver Zephyrs played baseball. But, hey, climate change, that is for the politicians to debate till they are blue or red in the face. I am not going to get into the climate. I am not a politician, in fact I hate politics.
The facts are: 22 years prior to the Colorado Rockies being born here in Denver, the winning percentage for professional baseball in Denver was .525. The Colorado Rockies winning percentage (including up to 7-27-2014) is .470. That is a huge difference folks.
During the time span of 22 years (same amount of time the Rockies have been here), the beginning of 1971 to the end of 1992, the Denver Bears won American Association Playoff Championship 5 times; 1971, 1976, 1977, 1981, 1983. They also won the American Association Western Division Championship 6 times; 1971, 1975, 1976, 1977, 1980, 1981.
Within this 22 year time span, the Denver Zephyrs finished first place in American Association 2 years; 1986, 1987. The Zephyrs also finished second place in American Association 3 years; 1985, 1989, 1991 and finished third place in American Association 3 years; 1984, 1988, 1990. The Zephyrs had playoff appearances in 1984, 1986, 1987, 1991 and was League Champion in 1991. In the 22 year span, The Denver Bears had 7 playoff appearances and the Denver Zephyrs had 4 playoff appearances.
The Colorado Rockies (in their 22 years of history) (I know this season is not over, but does not look like a Rocktober) have had 3 playoff appearances. In the prior 22 years of professional baseball in Denver the teams had 11 playoff appearances (7 for the Denver Bears and 4 for the Denver Zephyrs). Eleven compared to three is a huge difference folks.
Some people may say that this is comparing apples to oranges, or the minor leagues have different talent level, or the regular season schedule is shorter, etc., etc., etc. The minor leagues do have different talent level. The fact is that all the minor league players are striving to move up to the majors. The fact is that the opposing teams have the same playing conditions; the pitchers have to pitch “at altitude”, both offensive teams play in the same environment. The fact is that baseball in Denver before the Colorado Rockies had a much better success rate (given the playoff appearances).
Those teams of the Denver Bears and the Denver Zephyrs were doing something right (just look at the winning percentage and the number of playoff appearances). To play at altitude and have a respectable record, those teams had to do things right. They had to have the right scouting, the right player development (especially for pitchers) and the right leadership in the front office to make it all succeed.
Now the Colorado Rockies brass just might learn a whole lot by studying what these former Denver teams did right to succeed. Who says a team cannot win at altitude? It has been done here in Denver before, just look at the records.
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