Kiszla: Bad News Bears no more, the Rockies believe they’re on verge of playoff contention

Kiszla: Bad News Bears no more, the Rockies believe they’re on verge of playoff contention

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — After years of hiding behind a mountain of losses, the Rockies want to make you look. Their new purple uniforms are so bright, you’ve gotta wear shades. Dare we say it? They are done being the Bad News Bears.

“That’s the team I felt like I played for when I got ticked off,” said Colorado outfielder Carlos Gonzalez, laughing at the Bad News Bears reference. “But I like this team.”

Sitting 10 feet from CarGo in the clubhouse was new teammate Ian Desmond, a free agent who made the choice to join the Rockies and learn how to play first base.

So I had to wonder: What in the world was his attraction to Colorado, other than the $70 million contract?

“This is a team on the verge,” Desmond told me.

He didn’t come to Colorado, resigned to take a back seat to Los Angeles, San Francisco or any other rival in the National League West.

“Just like every other team in the big leagues, they’ve got flaws,” Desmond said. “We can’t worry about what everybody else is doing. We’ve got to have blinders on. But if every person does his job, we’re going to be a real good team.”

The rain clouds in the desert parted and the sun came out as the Rockies took the field Monday for their first full-squad workout of spring training. Hey, for a long-suffering fan base, which hasn’t witnessed a playoff game in LoDo since 2009, we’ll take optimistic metaphors wherever we can find ’em.

But we don’t need no stinkin’ baseball poetry. What we need is for the Rockies to make a playoff push that has a better chance of standing up longer than quarterback Trevor Siemian behind a leaky Broncos offensive line. Don’t know about you, but it takes more than sunshine on my shoulders at Coors Field to make me happy. I expect wins.

Nolan Arenado
Joe Sargent, Getty Images

Nolan Arenado of the Colorado Rockies celebrates with teammates after his solo home run during the sixth inning against the Pittsburgh Pirates on May 20, 2016 at PNC Park in Pittsburgh, Penn.

“It’s time to win. Denver needs it. The fans deserve it,” Colorado third baseman Nolan Arenado recently told Patrick Saunders, The Denver Post’s veteran scribe who has been forced to watch so much bad baseball in recent years that his eyeballs hurt.

The wiseguys in Las Vegas set the odds based on science, not sentiment. Last I checked, the over/under established for the number of victories by the Rockies in 2017 is 79.5 — or just good enough to be mediocre.

Call me crazy, but in a way too early prediction, I’m taking the over. Why? For a change, there’s more real talent than false hope in the Colorado clubhouse, where Bud Black is the new manager and the starting pitching is no joke.

Maybe it’s too early, and you don’t trust giving your attention, much less your heart, to the Rockies. But the vibe on this team has changed: Rather than hoping for everything to go right, the Rockies are beginning to believe it will go right.

“Pressure should be on the Dodgers, because they’ve spent a lot of money and they haven’t won a World Series,” Gonzalez said. “For us, there should never be pressure. Good players are turning into all-stars, like Charlie Blackmon and DJ LeMahieu. And hopefully that rubs off on Jon Gray and Kyle Freeland and all those kids that have the opportunity to make strides with us.”

 

 

 

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