Use all the hyperbolic language you like, the 2011 Colorado Rockies were a major disappointment. But in baseball, as in life, there are many ups and downs, highs and lows, bests and worsts. With that in mind, what follows is a mash-up of a list documenting some of the highlights and lowlights of 2011 in LoDo.
We’ll start with the best of the year, and alternate good and bad until we get to the worst moment of the season.
Tulo destroys New York
Shortstop Troy Tulowitzki’s fast start in 2011 was uncharacteristic, and was demonstrated best during a four-game series in New York against the Mets, a series in which he hit four home runs, one in each game. Yes, it was the Mets, but it was enough that Steve Berthiaume at ESPN wondered if he and CarGo weren’t the best offensive one-two punch in all of baseball, and none other than Rob Neyer proposed that Tulo might have overtaken St. Louis Cardinals first baseman Albert Pujols for best baseball player on the planet.
Fan Robert Seamans falls to his death
If May wasn’t a bad enough month on the field, tragedy struck off the field on May 24 when fan Robert Seamans fell to his death while attempting to slide down a railing in the Rock Pile.
Giambi’s three-homer game
On May 19, the Rockies were well into their May swoon, but Jason Giambi gave fans a little hope when he accounted for all seven Rockies runs when they faced Kyle Kendrick in Philadelphia against the Phillies. Even sweeter: it was Giambi’s first three-homer game in his career. How’s that for unexpected?
The trade rumors for pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez seemed to come out of nowhere in July, and would not die. On July 30, the Rockies allowed a clearly distracted Ubaldo to start a game in San Diego, one in which he pitched one inning, allowing two hits, four walks, and four earned runs. Following the inning, he was notified of the trade and he made an emotional exit. Many fans were left wondering what kind of a send off that was for the Rockies only bona fide ace in history.
Fowler’s walkoff against Dodgers
In the second-longest game of the season by time, the Rockies hung tough with the Los Angeles Dodgers for 13 innings at home on August 20. The back and forth, sloppy nature of the game sent many fans for either side home early, despite a three-steal game for Eric Young, Jr., an inside-the-park home run, and other excitement. However, Rockies fans that lasted were treated to 1) A vintage 15-pitch Todd Helton at bat which led to an RBI double in the twelfth inning to get the momentum back on the Rockies side, and 2) Dexter Fowler’s walk-off RBI single to finish it.
Minor Rockies can’t “just say no”
Colorado Springs Sky Sox first baseman Mike Jacobs became the first professional athlete in North America to get caught juicing with human growth hormone (HGH) in August, and was subsequently released by the organization. Not a month later, Rockies catcher Eliezer Alfonzo became the first baseball player to be suspended for 100 games for a second performance-enhancing drug offense (though you’ll remember he was the second player actually caught a second time under the program). At least you can’t say your 2011 Colorado Rockies won’t be in the history books at all.
Rockies hold MLB’s best record for much of April
Who would’ve thought it would have happened so early in the season (in a month in which the Colorado Rockies historically play poorly)? Who at the time would have thought that would be the exception to the season, not the rule?
De La Rosa goes down
When De la Rosa left the mound on May 24 against the Arizona Diamondbacks, Rockies fans were already becoming accustomed to a season in which the worst-case scenario was always lurking. When they found out he was done for the season and would undergo Tommy John surgery, it was arguably the turning point of the season.
Rockies inaugurate Salt River Field at Talking Stick
After an offseason in which Tulowitzki’s contract was extended even further, and Carlos Gonzalez signed a contract for way less than fans expected, the Rockies headed down to their new spring training home just east of Scottsdale. The fever was at such a high that the Rockies set an attendance record, splitting 359,300 fans with the Diamondbacks (also occupants of the complex) to lead the Cactus League.
Nicasio goes down
When rookie pitcher Juan Nicasio took a line-drive to the head and fractured his C-1 vertebrae on August 6, it only confirmed the tone of the season a week after the Jimenez trade. Thankfully, he is making a miraculously quick recovery from an injury he was lucky to have walked away from.