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  • Writer's pictureMario Nicolais

Could the pitch clock on the Rockies loyal fan base finally run out

As the calendar turns to September, the Colorado Rockies remain in the postseason hunt. For maybe another day or two.

While the Oakland Athletics and Kansas City Royals have both managed to be eliminated from contention while still in the dog days of summer, our Rockies at least hung on to that one shard of pride. However, the Rockies cannot make it to .500 — the “aspirational” goal owner Dick Monfort set for the team before the season — even with a 2007-style run of perfect baseball.

But there is always next year. And that is the rub. 

If you have not read the wonderful retrospective series Colorado Sun writers delivered for the Rockies 30th anniversary last week, then spend an hour or two reading through them. I guarantee it is the best part of the season. Yet when season ticket holder renewal invoices come out in the next few months, I will certainly cough up payment and begin scanning the schedule for the games I really want to see in 2024.

I can almost hear the whisper of James Earl Jones, “They’ll come for reasons they can’t even fathom … not knowing for sure why they’re doing it … They’ll pass over the money without even thinking about it …”

I have two seats on the aisle in the first row of the upper deck in straight away centerfield. These are not “incredible” seats, but I can see the whole field with little distortion and have a good view of every pitch location. When it gets too hot or rains, it is easy to move up under the rooftop.

What’s more, the Rockies have continued to allow season ticket holders to exchange their tickets (a big reason I keep listening to Darth Vader talking to Crash Davis). That means I can keep about 20 games a year, trade in the rest, and get great seats for four or five people a few times a year. Those are usually outings for my immediate family.

The rest of the time it is a great excuse to see old friends, business colleagues and extended family. That is the beauty of the game. I can sorta kinda watch while I catch up on the lives of folks who are important to me. Several hours at the ballpark is the antidote to too many video conferences and text messages.

I am obviously not the only person who has come to that conclusion. The rooftop is essentially an admission to that proposition. If asked, I doubt half the people there could accurately pinpoint the current inning without looking at the scoreboard. But the crowded railings are full of people having a good time.

Ironically, the new rules implemented this year to make baseball more interesting could have an adverse effect at Coors Field. Specifically, while the pitch clock may be good for television viewing (shorter games with less variation in length), it could cause attendance to crater at 20th and Blake.

First, the rapidfire feeling of the pitch clock almost demands attention on the field. If I spend a couple minutes visiting with someone, I could miss an entire inning. That was not the bargain I made as a lifelong baseball fan.

Second, with fans required to pay closer attention, they might actually see how awful the product put on by the Rockies really is. I called their Opening Day win against the then-world champion Dodgers last year an April Fools’ Day joke. They ended up winning another 67 games — and losing 94.

This year they would need to go 14-15 over the final month to avoid losing 100 games for the first time ever. With a farm system still in the bottom half of the league, there doesn’t appear to be much help on the way.

When they were almost this bad in 2005 and 2006, it took Rocktober to keep the club from watching its attendance numbers drop through the floor. After a repeat in 2014 and 2015, it was only the excitement of rising stars Nolan Arenado, Trevor Story, and DJ Lemahieu that brought people back.

Forced to pay closer attention to a worse team without a glimmer of future hope? The Rockies might find Denverites have better things to do with two and a half hours. Things like watching Russell Wilson do high knees on the sideline or catch up on Nikola Jokic’s horse racing record.

Finally, who really wants to see a Rockies home game when the PA system cannot get through the entire chorus of “Your Love” when Charlie Blackmon comes to the plate?

If the Rockies do not figure things out fast, for the first time in their history losing could take a toll on more than just their dejected fans.

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