Rockie Mountain Low

There are lots of bad jobs in the world, but two of the worst must be either being a Colorado Rockies pitcher or a Rockies manager.
If I were a major league pitcher, I’m not sure there’s enough money in baseball to convince me to sign with the Colorado Rockies. I’m not sure any pitcher will ever succeed in Colorado, at least not enough of them or at a high enough level of performance to carry the Rockies to a world championship.
In Colorado, the problem isn’t that balls fly further (they do) or that the outfield is bigger, giving more room for liners to drop for hits. The problem is that the thin air flattens breaking balls. A breaking ball that doesn’t break is the easiest pitch for a major league hitter to slam.
Denver makes bad pitchers horrible and good pitchers … well, horrible, too. Look what it’s done to Mike Hampton. Good pitchers, of course, can go bad suddenly, but every attempt Colorado has made to find good pitchers has soured. Last year Jason Jennings looked like a hot young rookie. This year, he’s mediocre at best. It’s getting to the point where it’s more than coincidence. There is something going on here.
My theory is this: When a pitcher is asked to make half of his starts in Coors field, he beginngs getting shell shocked. Because his breaking stuff doesn’t break as much, he starts trying to adjust his delivery, his grip, his timing — anything to get some break. It’s a futile task. But what this tinkering does is gets his mechanics out of whack so that even when he pitches at sea level, he doesn’t have the command necessary to get out major league hitters. Once he’s thoroughly demoralized, he isn’t even worth trading.
But team owners can’t fire high-priced pitchers such as Hampton. The contracts are guaranteed. But the owners can fire managers, and that’s what happened to Buddy Bell today. After a 6-16 start, Bell is the fall guy
Of course, I’ll never be offered the managerial job in Colorado. But just for the record, I don’t want it.

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