The Colorado Rockies, home run celebrations, and hope

Colorado Rockies v. Arizona Diamondbacks
Photo by Chris Coduto/MLB Photos via Getty Images

Colorado Rockies News and Notes for Tuesday, April 2, 2024

I spent part of last season writing about home run celebrations, a ritual of which I am a fan. I ranked the best ones (The Seattle Mariners’ trident won out), and when any team came to Coors Field, I asked to see their home run celebration gear.

For example, here’s the Minnesota Twins’ fishing vest.

This is the fishing vest the Twins would wear after hitting a home run. It is canvas colored with the Twins logo and patches showing the state of Minnesota. In addition, there are green fish patches sewn on everywhere. It’s laying on a table, so I could photograph it.
Renee Dechert
Minnesota Twins Land of 10,000 Rakes Fishing Vest

The public relations folks were always good-natured, if a bit surprised by my request. (Apparently, post-home-run swag was not a big source of curiosity among the press corps.) But they were always helpful in answering my requests.

The materials of home run celebrations were varied. The artifact always said something about the personality of the team and the place in which they played. They were carefully considered symbols of celebration and hope. After all, even having that gear in the dugout suggests a team planning to hit some bombs.

Often, the public relations staffer had to do a quick search to find their home run swag. That was not the case for the Angels, whose Samurai helmet guarded the entrance to the visiting clubhouse.

The Samurai helmet is elaborate with a gold dragon  waiting to pounce on the crown. It rests on a sugar skull placed on a traveling truck.
Renee Dechert
Los Angels Samurai helmet

(“It’s surprisingly heavy,” the staffer said. Photos were allowed. Actually picking it up was not.)

The red leather (pleather?) vest has four D-backs patches on it. The vest is on a hanger with the clubhouse in the background.
Renee Dechert
Arizona Diamondbacks Victory Vest

The Arizona Diamondbacks’ vest grew on me, but it clearly worked for a team with talent, chemistry, and a clear identity (“Embrace the chaos!”) that went on to win the National League Pennant.

In contrast, last season, the Colorado Rockies passed on any kind of festivity.

Back in May, I argued that they, too, needed a home run celebration. I wrote:

Home run celebrations are the best! They commemorate a significant event; they allow players to have fun and express themselves; and they give fans something to enjoy.

They’re also a way for teams to reinforce their identities.

They decided, instead, to stick with the traditional high-fives and general good wishes. Ultimately, decision to go without a home run celebration seemed like an apt way to mark the team’s first 100-loss season.

The Rockies usually — with justification — get dinged for their pitching, but in recent years, they’ve seen a lack of offensive power. For example, in 2023, the Rockies hit only 163 home runs, putting them in the bottom-five of all MLB teams. (By contrast, Atlanta hit 307, almost twice as many more.)

Really, what was there to celebrate?

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In 2024, the Rockies decided to be proactive, and during Opening Day, Ryan Spilborghs broke the news:

As home-run swag goes, it’s not bad: region-appropriate given Colorado’s epic skiing; fitting symbolism; easy color coordination (black goes with everything); portable (which matters when a team is going to be lugging the swag all over the country and into Canada and Mexico).

The Rockies didn’t actually get to break it out on Thursday’s Opening Day in an historically epic loss, but they did on Friday when Elias Díaz hit the team’s first home run.

At the end, you can see someone — Alan Trejo, as I recall — fitting the helmet on Díaz’s head as he prepares to celebrate in the dugout.

The introduction of the Rockies’ home run ski helmet is a risky proposition. Celebrating success is good; not having occasion to bring out the swag to celebrate is not — and it can become a cruel reminder of failure.

And that brings us to the Rockies’ 1-4 start to the 2023 season.

It’s too early in the season for statistics to be particularly meaningful, and the Rockies have yet to play a series at Coors Field, but right now, the team has hit only three home runs. (As of Monday, the Los Angeles Dodgers lead the league with ten, followed by the San Diego Padres with eight, and then the Arizona Diamondbacks with seven.)

The offense — again — seems stuck in neutral. Case in point? The Rockies have a run differential of -23.

Part of that stems from the Rockies running in the buzz saw of a very good D-backs team that not enough folks are taking seriously. (Just check the power rankings: There’s a narrative the Snakes got lucky in 2023. It was a bad story then, and the D-backs are better this year.)

But the Rockies will need to get better soon, or there won’t be much skiing in the Coors Field dugout. Rather, the Rockies will find themselves snowshoeing through the brutal terrain of the NL West with a rally helmet that symbolizes offensive failure.

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So about those new uniforms . . . .

MLB may think we’ve all moved on from the ill-fitting, paper-thin uniforms that got all the attention in spring training.

But those tiny names on the back of player uniforms provide a constant reminder of this wardrobe malfunction:

Notice this from DNVR Rockies:

Please, MLB, we’re begging you here: Make players’ names readable on the back of their uniforms.

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Meet the Topes!

I always enjoy these first-day-of-the-season posts.

When John Curtiss gets called up, I’m going to ask him about his writing interests.

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The best defensive player most MLB fans don’t know, Logan Gilbert’s standout skill, and more ‘Sliders’ | The Athletic

You have probably guessed by now that Tyler Kepner is referring to Brenton Doyle (a defensive GOAT we’ve been writing about for over a year). While it’s great that Doyle is receiving national attention, given that he won a Gold Glove as a rookie playing in the most challenging center field in MLB, perhaps not knowing about Brenton Doyle is a choice.

‘Wait ‘til next year’ will come early for the Rockies | The Tribune

Editor Doug Fitzgerald has some thoughts about the 2024 Colorado Rockies, and to be fair, he’s not wrong. But, heads up, Doug: It’s “Cal” Quantrill, not “Paul.”

Dick Monfort Is Not God or My Dad or My Boss | Rockies vs. Connor: A Baseball Journal

Connor Farrell wrote for Purple Row, and he remains one of my favorite Rockies philosophers. He published this piece on Opening Day, and it’s worth your time. He writes about the Greeley Grays, the Rockies, and the endurance of baseball.

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Title: The Colorado Rockies, home run celebrations, and hope
Author: Renee Dechert

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