As I write this, the Colorado Rockies are sitting on top of the National League West. King of the hill. Top of the heap. Masters of all they survey.
Or, more realistically, the lords of April.
I can see some of the longtime Rockheads nodding in agreement. For the newer fans, excited by the fast start of the boys in purple, let me give you some real-world comparisons for perspective:
“What a beautiful wedding! Oh, that marriage will surely last forever.”
“4-0 in the preseason! I’m telling you, the Broncos are going to crush the Super Bowl this year.”
“He won Iowa hands down. You know it’s just a matter of time before we all start calling him Mr. President.”
“Man, this Colorado spring is gorgeous. Aren’t you glad to finally say goodbye to ice and snow?”
You get the picture?
Yes, our hometown baseball crew is doing well in April. I’m pleased but not terribly shocked. The Rockies always do well in April. They last just long enough to get everyone excited and then a) the first three injuries happen, b) the wheels fall off our pitching rotation and/or c) Dinger the Dinosaur attracts the wrath of the baseball gods merely for existing.
How bad an indicator is it? In 2007, the year the Rockies actually made the World Series, they managed a 10-16 record in April. Mediocre with a side order of painful.
Until, suddenly, they weren’t.
And that, in a nutshell, is why I love the grand old game.
If ever there was a sport where the cream rises to the top, it’s baseball. Sure, there are bizarre flukes and bad calls, just like any other sport. But a 162-game regular season acts as one heck of a filter. When you hit a five-game winning streak in football, you’re playoff-bound for sure. When you hit a five-game winning streak in baseball, it’s … Wednesday.
Well, unless you’re the Marlins. Then it’s more of a miracle. But I digress.
I’ve had friends complain that baseball is too slow a game, that nothing seems to happen. They’re missing the point. Baseball, at its heart, is a game of patience.
There’s no clock. Any moment could be the one that wins or loses it all, however lopsided the score. (Especially with our bullpen.)
There’s a long season. You build the foundation of your season slowly and carefully, to where an unusual two weeks may mean nothing – or it may be the capstone of everything you’ve been working toward.
And there are players behind the players, always building to the promise of tomorrow. Baseball has perhaps the best-developed minor league system of any sport, a farm ground that allows you to watch not just today’s stars but the potential for years down the road. (Assuming they don’t get swiped by a richer club, of course, but that’s an argument for another day.)
It’s a life lesson turned into a sport, that you don’t have to win every at-bat, or even every game. But if you do the small things right enough, often enough, over time the small things become the big things.
It isn’t all staked on one April.
Sure, I’ll sit back and enjoy the Rockies’ wins. For today, they’re good. For tomorrow, there are no promises. Such is baseball. Such is life. A good beginning has to have follow-through if it’s to be more than a memory.
Maybe it’ll be there. Maybe not. We’ll see. Patience now, patience always.
Yes, the Rockies are truly towering. But only time can tell if they’ve peaked too soon.