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Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Concession Speech: 2012 Colorado Rockies - Yahoo! Sports (blog)

As the regular season winds down, many teams are already facing an offseason filled with golf rounds and hot-stove strategy.

But we're not going to let them get off that easy. No sir. No way. In an attempt to bring some closure between franchise and follower, we're giving a blogger from each team the opportunity to give a concession speech for this year's squad. Next up in our series is our own Mark Townsend, Big League Stew's resident Colorado Rockies fan.

My fellow Rockies fans: Thank you. Thank you all for coming on this most difficult day for our professional baseball team. And thank you for continuing to line owner Dick Monfort's pockets with your kind donations at Coors Field despite the disappointing and unacceptable results this season. I know your support means a lot to him and he will look forward to seeing you all again next spring and accepting more of your donations as the Rockies embark on their next campaign.

As I've already indicated and you surely already know, we are here today to acknowledge that the Colorado Rockies have fallen short of our expectations and have been eliminated from postseason contention for the third straight season. Just like all of you, I'm searching for answers as to how and why we find ourselves in this position, and why we are currently challenging for our worst poll results (96 losses) in franchise history.

I know what many of you are thinking. There's no way a team anchored by Troy Tulowitzki, Carlos Gonzalez and Todd Helton can or should deliver results similar to that of our first campaign in 1993 and our blow-it-up-and-start-over campaign in 2005. I agree with you completely, but that's where we're at. We have sunk to a new rock bottom in 2012, but we must find ways to reverse that course in 2013.

All of the answers and solutions we seek won't come easy, but I have already identified key areas where the Rockies have obviously failed or were unprepared. If you just look at the month of May, where they finished with an embarrassing 10-18 record â€" on the heels of an 8-20 May record in 2011 â€" and then followed up in June with a 9-18 mark, you can see where their focus was lost. The entire campaign got away over those 61 days. Going forward, there must be more focus on consistency, because while we can't always be at our best, we must avoid being at our worst for extended stretches if we hope to make an acceptance speech next fall.

Consistency is where it all begins, but there are other obvious flaws that must be corrected.

(AP)Mistakes were made: That lack of consistency also extends into our front office and our coaching staff. I feel like general manager Dan O 'Dowd and manager Jim Tracy belong in Pawnee, IN running Leslie Knope's campaign for city council. They clearly panicked after May and put the short-term and long-term future of our party in danger by switching to a four-man rotation that included a loose 75-pitch limit.

They called it a 'paired pitching system.', which emphasizes the effectiveness and durability of our middle relievers. I call it nonsense and a detriment to the development of our young starting pitchers. We must always have an eye towards building our future, and instead we have witnessed pieces of that future like Drew Pomeranz, Alex White and Tyler Chatwood regress. This philosophy has proven counterproductive and also ties our hands when it comes to making critical in-game decisions, because the system always takes precedence over game situations.

We also have to allocate our funds more wisely. Our supporters are fantastic, but our campaign still doesn't have the financial backing that many other candidates enjoy. We tossed a lot of that precious money around last offseason by bringing in Michael Cuddyer via free agency and Jeremy Guthrie in a trade with the Baltimore Orioles. Needless to say, we didn't get a good return on those investments, and somehow ended up with Jonathan Sanchez in a July 20 trade as a result. We seriously considered conceding the race right that day, but were talked out of it by our advisors.

But I would be lying if I said that was the first time we considered conceding. That actually came on June 16 in Detroit, when our season long struggles on defense were summed up in one adventurous play:

When you can turn a routine groundball to the pitcher into a Little League home run, it's time for serious reevaluation.

Mudslinging time: Our main competitors in this race have shown ruthless aggression all year. I'm sorry, we just can't keep up with the Los Angeles Dodgers and their new leadership throwing money at all of their problems.

When we lose Troy Tulowitzki, Todd Helton, Michael Cuddyer, Juan Nicasio, Jhoulys Chacin and Jorge De La Rosa, we simply don't have the depth or resources to replace their production adequately for long periods of time. But again, a lot of that reflects poorly on our structure as we have been unable to develop from within our own ranks.

And we can't keep up with the San Francisco Giants because, well, they're just a little smarter and a lot luckier than we are when it comes to taking gambles. Case in point: Marco Scutaro gave us 30 RBIs in 95 games this season. Once we traded him it only took him 45 games to produce 30 RBIs for San Francisco. How does one make sense of that?

Hope for the future: I know you have been beat over the head with a lot of brutal honesty today. Let me give you a little more. We DO have reasons to be excited about our outlook in the coming years. Among those would be rookie catcher Wilin Rosario, who has shown us his power with 25 home runs â€" most ever by a Rockies catcher and tied for most by a Rockies rookie with Todd Helton. Granted, he's a little rough around the edges with 20 passed balls behind the plate and an OBP well south of .300, but the young man's work ethic should make us all optimistic that he can and will improve those weaknesses while maintaining his strengths.

We've also seen promising things from Josh Rutledge. While filling in at shortstop, Rutledge has proven to be a natural. He's intelligent, he's instinctive, and he can slide over to second base full-time in 2013 giving us a very strong offensive core along with Tulowitzki, Gonzalez, Rosario and center fielder Dexter Fowler, who also enjoyed a breakout season.

A change is going to come: Listen, I can't guarantee big changes in the offseason. We have a very loyal ownership that is committed to the current managerial structure. The changes we saw in-season with Dan O'Dowd moving his focus to player development and Bill Geivett assuming day-to-day operations of the major league team, along with Bob Apodaca stepping down as pitching coach, are likely the big moves we would have seen this winter.

Perhaps we'll see a new full-time pitching coach named, but the duo of Bo McLaughlin and Jim Wright appear locked in. We'll definitely have a five-man rotation, and my understanding is we will raise the pitch limits by 16 to 25 percent. That's good news. And with any luck, that will be raised even more as the campaign goes along. I don't foresee another splash in free agency or a key piece being moved to restock our prospects, so please don't anticipate anything major happening.

The biggest changes we all have to root from the Rockies are just like the changes we have to make in our own lives. They have to come from within. There's plenty of potential in that clubhouse, but they have to take more pride in themselves and fight harder to improve and achieve their goals. It's all on them.

The Colorado Rockies 2012 campaign was not a good one. I'd be lying right to your face if I said any differently. Judging by some of the nods, shrugs, hand gestures and brown paper bags I've seen in the audience today, you're running out of patience. I don't blame you. You have a right to be angry and demand better. But please, always keep your perspective.

This is the campaign we all chose to support two decades ago. We can't bail on the cause now just because times are getting tough. The Rockies are going to be here for us again in the spring. That's something you can't say for your favorite NHL candidates and nearly couldn't say for your NFL and NBA candidates 12 months ago.  They may stink again, yes, but they won't let us down or fail to entertain us in all of the right ways and all of the wrong ways. You can't count on that.

And who knows, with a little good health, good luck, inspired play beginning in April and not August, and that extra seat in the postseason available for the taking, our return to relevance in this unpredictable world might be just around the corner.

It's true. Keep the faith, Rockies fans. Keep the faith.

Follow Mark Townsend on Twitter

Previous Concession Speeches: Kansas City Royals, Houston Astros

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Lincecum, NL West-leading Giants handle Rockies - CBSSports.com

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Denver Broncos Eye on: Houston Texans - Denver Post

Eye on ...Houston Texans at Broncos, 2:25 p.m., Sunday at Sports Authority Field at Mile High, KCNC-4

For the record: Houston 2-0, first place in AFC South; Denver 1-1, second place in AFC West.

Last game: Houston dominated its first divisional game with a 27-7 victory at Jacksonville.

Who's hot: After two weeks, Houston leads the league in three major defensive categories: average points allowed (8.5), average yards allowed (196.0) and average pass yards allowed (124.0). That group, coached by former Broncos coach Wade Phillips, is led by linebacker Brian Cushing and defensive end J.J. Watt.

Who's not: There is little to

complain about with the Texans after two weeks. So to nitpick: Quarterback Matt Shaub and the passing game have taken a back seat to the running game. Shaub has thrown only one touchdown pass (to Andre Johnson) in the team's first two games.

Key stat: 149.5 â€" Rush yards per game. And it's not just Arian Foster. Though Foster has 189 rushing yards and three touchdowns in two games, backup Ben Tate also has two scores. This will be the biggest test of the season for the Broncos' run defense.

FYI: Denver quarterback Peyton Manning's career record against the Texans is 16-2. Manning played against Houston twice a year while playing for the Colts. In 2010, Manning's last season on the field in Indianapolis, he split games with the Texans.

Injury report: With defensive end J.J. Watt back from his elbow injury, the Texans are remarkably healthy entering Week 3.

Coachspeak: "It's what you believe in as a staff. We think we're built to do both. We think we can throw it to win if we have to," Houston coach Gary Kubiak, on whether his team is too run-heavy.
Lindsay H. Jones, The Denver Post

BroncosRants: Denver Broncos Positives in Loss to Falcons - Rant Sports

Kirby Lee-US Presswire

As the final minute of NFL Monday Night Football between the Denver Broncos and Atlanta Falcons ran off the clock last night, the first reaction was to point to the negative aspects of the 27-21 loss.  Lost amid the three Peyton Manning interceptions, missed assignments and lost opportunities, and chaotic nonsense of the bush-league referees, there were some positives when cooler heads prevail.

The brightest spot that stood out for the Broncos was the resiliency and the audacity of RB Willis McGahee.  McGahee ran 22 times for 113 yards and two scores against a defense that was stingy and downright mean, while just refusing to quit. The way the Falcons schemed and maneuvered to take Manning out of his game made it seem as if nobody would do any damage going down the field.  Yet McGahee very quietly weaved in and out of defenders and proved that he has a lot more in the tank than most would give him credit for and almost made the Falcons pay single-handedly.

The run defense, the past few years’ thorn in the side was once again stout and secure.  Michael Turner could not get anything going for the duration of the game and it is no wonder just why he needed to go out for a drink after the game.  Okay, that was a low blow, but how stupid can a man be?  Two weeks in a row, the Broncos run defense has limited the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Falcons to a combined 142 yards and only 5 first downs while forcing a fumble.  Pretty impressive against two teams who have been known to rely on the run in the past.

The final aspect of the game that requires special note was the coaching of John Fox and his staff.  The mark of a good football team stems from their coach and Fox knew when to challenge the officials and their idiocy and also how to calm his team down and get them focused for a run in the second half.  The play calling from Mike McCoy and the defensive schemes from Jack Del Rio were very good from the middle of the third quarter on and gave the Broncos every opportunity to win.  Let this be noted now: This coaching staff will do very good things in the weeks to come and all of these kinks will be worked out of the system.  That, above all else, will put the Broncos over the edge in winning the AFC West this year over Norv Turner and his San Diego Chargers.

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Should the Denver Broncos Eye Greg Jennings of Green Bay Packers? - Gather.com

A tough night in Atlanta showed the Denver Broncos are a good team but not a perfect team. Their passing offense struggled with completing throws. Does the team need a veteran star like Greg Jennings of the Green Bay Packers?

Peyton Manning lacking that ace receiver feel in Broncos offense

He didn't have the big night most expected, but Peyton Manning isn't perfect. His three costly interceptions put Denver in a big hole early that they couldn't climb out of in time. He deserves his share of the blame for those mistakes but not all of it. His pair of young receivers in Eric Decker and Demaryius Thomas looked good on the stat sheet, but their struggles getting open against a Falcons secondary playing with their best corner in Brent Grimes shows Denver may not have that number one receiver every team needs. Decker had a big drop late in the game that could have led to a momentum-shifting touchdown. Thomas had some big plays after the catch, but too often Manning had to sit in the pocket before taking a sack because no one was open. Things may improve over the next few weeks, but the Broncos know they signed the four-time MVP to help them win a Super Bowl sooner than later. If that goal hasn't changed, then they should take a long look at finding that ace Manning always loved having in Indianapolis.

James Jones issues with Aaron Rodgers shows value of Jennings

The Chicago Bears defense has stayed a thorn in the side of Aaron Rodgers for years, but the recent showing of the offense on Thursday night proved that the mighty Packers receivers aren't without fault. Top reserve James Jones struggled all night against gritty Bears corner Tim Jennings who undercut Jones on a 4th quarter play for an interception. Jones drew some serious fire from Rodgers for not coming back to the ball. Coupled with his history of dropping passes, its little wonder Green Bay favored Randall Cobb and Jordy Nelson over him. However, the real loss that was felt on that night was Greg Jennings. The 29-year-old All-Pro has had injury issues since the preseason. He also has a lingering contract dispute with the team that could make him a free agent in 2013. That means either Green Bay lets him walk or they try for a trade. No deal can happen as long as Jennings is hurt, which is another reason the team was happy to hear he would return to practice in preparation for the Monday night battle with Seattle Seahawks. The trade deadline is still far away in week 8, but the Packers must hope Jennings can string a few good games together if they want a good return for him.

The Denver Broncos got Peyton Manning. Whether they also got his some weapons is still unclear. Greg Jennings may not have a future with the Green Bay Packers. A trade could work out well for both teams.

Photo Credit: Roemer Photo Blog

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Colorado Rockies (58-88) at San Francisco Giants (84-63), 10:15 pm (ET) - Modesto Bee

The San Francisco Giants have had success this season despite a subpar showing through most of the campaign by Tim Lincecum.

The former Cy Young winner appears to be hitting his stride at just the right time, however, and he'll take the mound on Tuesday for another likely postseason tune-up as the Giants resume a four-game set with the Colorado Rockies.

The 28-year-old Lincecum has gone just 9-14 with a 5.09 earned run average this season, but has not allowed more than three runs in any of his last five starts. Lincecum is 3-1 in that span and is coming off last Wednesday's win over the Rockies.

Lincecum allowed three runs on six hits and four walks, striking out eight over six frames of an 8-3 victory.

"He has really elevated his game," San Francisco manager Bruce Bochy said. "He's gotten on track, which is huge for us. Some of the other guys have had some hiccups and he has picked us up."

The right-hander will face the Rockies for the sixth time in 2012 and is 2-1 with a 5.40 ERA against them.

The Giants lowered their magic number for winning the NL West to eight games with Monday's 2-1 victory over the Rockies. Madison Bumgarner held Colorado to a run over six innings, while Hunter Pence drove in the deciding run with a single in the sixth.

"It feels better to win a game like that than it does to go out there when you're really sharp and throwing good," Bumgarner said. "It feels good to know that you don't have your best stuff and you can still fight your way through and give us a chance."

San Francisco won for the fifth time in six games and is 11-4 versus Colorado this year.

Guillermo Moscoso allowed the deciding run to take the loss after Jhoulys Chacin surrendered one run on five hits and a walk in a five-inning start for Colorado, which dropped its third straight and 10th in 12 games.

"To think that you're going to go out, especially against this pitching staff, and throw seven, eight or nine runs up, it's not going to happen," Rockies manager Jim Tracy said about the Giants. "You got to do what you have to do to get the points you need to win, and then play the game the way you have to play it in order to not afford them unnecessary opportunities."

Getting the call tonight for the Rockies will be Jeff Francis, who took the loss against the Giants and Lincecum last Wednesday.

The veteran lefty lasted just three innings and gave up all five of his runs in the first frame on four separate run-scoring hits. He fell to 5-5 with a 5.68 ERA through 20 starts this season.

Francis, 31, has yielded 11 runs in just 6 2/3 innings of work in two setbacks this year to the Giants, who he is 7-8 against lifetime in 18 starts with a 5.47 ERA.

NFL Week 3: Houston Texans vs Denver Broncos Preview and Predictions - Bleacher Report

In Peyton Manning's last eight outings against the Houston Texans, he was 7-1 against that team. Will the trend continue, even as the future Hall-of-Famer dons Bronco orange?

Peyton Manning couldn't pull out a Broncos win after a horrid first half on Monday Night Football in Week 2, despite an impressive near-comeback.

The fate of the Denver Broncos still depends upon the defensive personnel, and if they aren't able to shut down the Houston Texans running attack, Denver is in for a long afternoon. And it will be up to Peyton Manning to out-fox Texans defensive coordinator Wade Phillips for the upper hand in this matchup.

The Texans have as potent of a running attack as any team in the league. Not only do they have a dominant one-cut runner in Arian Foster, but also a versatile backfield threat in Ben Tate.

Houston's run game sets up everything the Texans do, from the passing attack to the defense, and that backfield tandem will need another big outing to get past an opponent that they could conceivably meet in the postseason. 

Check out out pigskin preview for Houston at Denver, an AFC matchup which promises not only wanton carnage but also potential playoff implications. Check out my thoughts on the matter in my video above and leave your own thoughts in the comments. Thanks for watching. 

Be sure to sound off and let us know what you think in the comments below. If you like what you see, click here for more from Bleacher Report Productions.