I have often commented that baseball is a lot like life. Both its long duration (unless you get DFAd early in the season like a recent friend with their cancer), its ups and downs, its trades, people sent to the minors, and the fact that often you go through long stretches where you lose as many as you win, and you remember the losses so much more. Its why baseball is so much better than any other sport. Over 162 games (plus Spring Training, and All-Star Break, then October) generally the best find a way to show it.
Back in 2006 the Rox looked like they were poised to throw off a decade of losing, but in the 2nd half of that season they began their long fade to loserville. During this time I was busy finishing up my PhD and then going through my oral defense (a viva voce for you real nerdy folks in the audience), which I did with my shoulder in a sling from a fairly massive reconstruction job (I really do know what Jeff Francis and Greg Reynolds went through…except you can still be an academic without your shoulder whereas pitchers, sort of need theirs. But even as I defending and then asked to make two small corrections and add a paragraph towards the end I was facing increasing exhaustion and pain and my brain was simply going into a fog. It took me three months to do the work necessary. And most of that time I was spending in bed as I increasingly felt awful.
The great thing is it gave me lots of time to think about baseball that offseason. I loved this kid they had coming up to play shortstop, Troy Tulowitzki. He looked like the real deal. Add in Garret Atkins and Brad Hawpe and Clint Barmes (speaking of shoulder issues…ever wonder if he hadn’t of slipped bringing dear meat in what his career path might have been?) things looked positive. Of course Matt Holliday and Todd Helton were already studs in my book. Yea, they had to dump Jason Jennings but they got a good haul back. Oh, and all the prospect watchers showed the team had some great young arms, especially some guy named Ubaldo Jiminez and another one, a lefty, who was even more highly thought of, Franklin Morales. So, I might have been feeling ill, really ill as it turned out, but the start of the 2007 season figured to be the start of something big. I actually remember going on a blog site (this was the internet circa 2007) and saying the Rox were going to the World Series. No one of course was picking them higher than third, but I just knew.
Thing was 2007 ended up being the year my disease became full-blown, and so I simply spent night after night with my radio, charting games, as the Rox went up and down, catching games I could stay awake for on television, and generally cheering as much as my body could handle. And then when it looked all over, that great run down the stretch to game 163. My wife says it was the only time the whole year she could remember me having the strength or pain threshold to jump around on the bed, which I did as I ran from our family room into bed when Matt slid across home plate (or by it…oh, who cares now) to send the Rox to the playoffs. I actually woke her up and we started jumping up and down like fools. Yes, she loves baseball too.
I went back to England for graduation that October, and so I followed the NLCS from the lovely Eastgate Hotel in Oxford (for trivia fans, that is where C.S. Lewis first met Joy Gresham, the woman he would marry, in their tea room). I was on the floor of our bathroom following the final game on ESPN via play-by-play update (back before the days you could get a cheap radio subscription to listen to the game and besides the $15 dollar a day internet – it was 2007 – was about as fast as dial-up. Once again I ran into the room and jumped up on the bed dancing after Helton grabbed the final out (Eric Byrnes, the worst analyst on MLB and the guy the Dbacks gave a 2 year $22 million dollar deal to who was badmouthing the Rox if you all remember). To this day I still believe if the series starts the next day or two, the Rox win that World Series. As it was, if you ask me what I remember most about that October, graduating with my doctorate in a very traditional English graduation or the Rox refuse to loose…its no contest! My poor wife…we took a day trip to Southampton so she could smell a working port (she was raised in Kodiak, Alaska, so it’s a weird thing about her…along with her strange taste in men), and all I talked about on the train there, the day in Southampton, and all the way back was the Rockies. Little did I know the series and indeed the franchise would follow the path of the most famous ship to ever leave Southampton.
As it was that was the highlight of the next decade for both the Rox and me. The Rox, save for 2009 and a brief month period in 2010, were a sick franchise, without a good diagnosis. The same was true of me, but at least in 2012 I finally got a good diagnosis (well, good in the sense I knew what made me ill, not good in terms of what it was and did to me). Lyme Disease stinks, if you ever have it, send it back. You don’t want it. Beyond the pain, brain fog, nerve damage, and feeling like you have the flu, you just get the feeling there is no hope.
Which is what being a Rockies fan has felt like the past eight years. No hope. No clear thinking. Paralysis or hitting a nerve that send you through the roof. A sense of flu with déjà vu. And in the end…no clarity on what you can do to fix it. If your baseball team has Lyme Disease, send it back…you don’t want it.
Last July I finally got a blood test that showed my body was clean! I was cured (well, as cured as you can be when the disease can hide away for years, just waiting to rear its ugly head…sort of like a torn ulnar collateral nerve that took down Zero this year). And again, it felt like the Rox might be in the same boat. The young group of arms – Tyler Matzek, Eddie Butler, Jon Gray, Kyle Freeland…the Rox biggest issue for…forever…finally looked all clear. Yes, 2015 might be rough – young arms don’t usually show up ready to be awesome, but, things were finally clear of the disease. Time to start building a championship.
Of course who knew that the Rox had managed to turn Eddie Butler from strikeout man to groundball and walk man. Or that Tyler Matzek would lose the strike zone, school zone, danger zone, and every other zone known to humanity. Or that Gray would need another full year of seasoning and Kyle Freeland would spend 2/3 of the year on the DL. It looked bright then.
But 2015 ended up being an awful dreadful no-good year as all the old disease came back – bad pitching, blown bullpens and hopeless offense on the road, not to mention new issues like home offense and a running game based on drunken pub crawls.
Sadly for me 2015 has ended up being a lot like the eight years as well. After a trip to England in early June I began to feel awful, not have any ability to concentrate, or write, or do much of anything, the feeling like the flu…nerve pain…I waited and waited to go see my specialist…but the blood tests confirmed…its back. As are the expensive prescription drugs not covered by insurance (want to know how to chew through life savings….lose your job and have to but medicines that are $1000 a cycle…its like throwing money down the Mike Hamtpon hole). The good news is that I should be back in the clear by Spring Training. Hope springs eternal…maybe even for the Rox in 2016
All that is my lead-up to say being a Rockies fan and a Lyme Disease sufferer has blown-up even my purple-tinted glasses. Sometimes its hard to even care at times. It has made cancelling our Direct TV subscription (unemployment you know) an acceptable thing. At least now I can’t force myself to watch those horrible games.
But I wanted to also apologize for being largely absence from the community this year and for the lack of writing in Doc’s corner. Hopefully they will both become things of the past when my body works again. As to the Rox return to the baseball playoffs? I think they might need more than high powered antibiotics.
Tonight’s Game 2 of the Double-Header (sorry folks, didn’t know they had an early game) features Kyle Kendrick pitching. Kendrick is to run prevention what penicillin is to antibiotics. Yes, it’s a “type” of pitcher, but really, at this stage, about as effective as just hoping really hard for Santa and the Easter Bunny to stop the worst from happening.
Facing the Rox is the Dbacks own De La Rosa…lets hope he isn’t very good at Coors Field
|De La Rosa||P||Kendrick||P|
On the bright side, at least we finally get to see Reyes sit and Adames play some. They think of him more as a utility guy in 2016 (got to be better than Descalso right?), but after winning the Winter League batting title last year, maybe he can be starter? With a former supp#1 Story and this year #3 Rodgers over all coming down the pipe, the shortstop position was strong enough allowing the team to deal that young SS from 2006. I just want this team to win 10 games this month, play lots of youngsters, and give us the overall #1 next year. Not much to ask is it? I think even the Rox can do that…right?