When I was a teenager growing up in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, one of my favorite ways to kill time during the summer was watching movies that aired on Comedy Central. They were entertaining, and more importantly, they kept me in an air-conditioned climate rather than melting into a pool of mush outside in the 1,000-degree weather.
One of the better movies that got play on Comedy Central was “National Lampoon’s Vacation,” which details one American family’s disastrous road trip from the Chicago area to California. Family patriarch Clark Griswold is determined to get his family to the amusement park Wally World. Along the way, there are deaths in the family, near-adultery and even some inadvertent animal cruelty.
Watching the Colorado Rockies’ road trip to California earlier this week, I couldn’t help but think about the Griswolds’. Colorado went out west for six games against the division rival Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants and, well, it didn’t go great.
The Rockies went 1-5 in California as a part of a 2-5 week. The road trip sunk Colorado further down the NL West Standings; through Friday morning, it sat 14 games behind San Francisco and 7 ½ games behind Los Angeles. Any slim hopes the Rockies had of winning their division this season seems to have withered away.
The main culprit in the poor road trip was an unusual one: the Colorado bats. In a three-game series against the Dodgers, the Rockies mustered a total of two runs, 12 hits and struck out 41 times. Against the Giants, the Colorado offense had two more one-run outings.
Finally, the bats seemed to wake up in the team’s return to Coors Field on Thursday night. The Rockies smacked around four Phillies pitchers for 14 hits and 11 runs. But by then, the damage in the week was already done.
Barring a miraculous comeback, the Rockies’ only hope of making the playoffs this season is nabbing a Wild Card spot. And even that is going to be difficult. They were 7 ½ games out of the last Wild Card spot Friday morning.
The rest of July is crucial for Colorado. It plays four series against sub-.500 teams (if you count the ongoing series against the Phillies). Then the level of difficulty goes back up.
If Colorado continues to sink, it’s possible we could see a key guy — perhaps center fielder Charlie Blackmon or right fielder Carlos Gonzalez — get dealt for some pitching prospects. If that happens, we can look back on the team’s Griswold-esque trip to California as a reason why.