Atmosphere

Rock On

The Coors Field faithful are getting spoiled. It's about time.

April 2010

When the Rockies fell flat in 2008, it was easy to think that 2007's World Series run was a fluke. But after the Blake Street Bombers returned to the playoffs last year with a smart and tenacious style, suddenly 2010 looks more optimistic.

Led by reigning National League manager of the year Jim Tracy, the Rockies enter this season with perhaps the most important intangible of all: After two playoff runs in three years, they know how to win. And unlike past Rockies teams, which featured menacing hitters but cover-your-eyes pitching, the squad has, perhaps, the best balance in franchise history.

This year's pitching staff can do more than just keep the games close. Colorado returns 2007 ace (and 17-game winner) Jeff Francis, now recovered from shoulder surgery, to the back of its starting rotation—an unfamiliar luxury made possible by the emergence last year of Ubaldo Jimenez and Jorge De La Rosa. Add to that Aaron Cook's consistency and suddenly the team's staff is so deep that 2008 closer Manuel Corpas has become a secondary setup man.

This being the Rockies, expect the sluggers to still rake, with sophomore Carlos Gonzalez and third-year Troy Tulowitzki—both unstoppable last year after the All-Star break—leading the way, complemented by emerging impact players (Dexter Fowler and Ian Stewart) and steady veterans (Brad Hawpe and the ageless Todd Helton). From top to bottom, the Rockies have a solid lineup. And although we can't match the high-dollar spending by the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants in the tough NL West, Coors Field figures to be rockin' well into September, and perhaps beyond.