Denver, I need your help. I know, I know -- we've only just met and I'm already asking for a favor. But this is serious. I need someone -- anyone -- to explain to me how Jim Tracy has the Colorado Rockies on the verge of the MLB playoffs. I just don't get it.
I've watched a lot of baseball, and I've seen my share of inexplicable events (the Rockies' 2007 playoff run comes to mind), but this one has me stumped. Even with the Kyle Orton-led Broncos sitting at 3-0, this still ranks as the biggest mystery in Denver sports today. I mean seriously, how did he do it?
Again, I know we've just met, but travel back with me, if you will, to May 29 -- the day Jim Tracy replaced Clint Hurdle as manager of the Rockies. At the time, the Rockies were 10 games under .500, 14.5 games behind the Dodgers in the West, and the Rocky Faithful were already talking about the 2009 Broncos. (By the way, for those puzzled by the Broncos' 3-0 start, feel free to replace all references to Jim Tracy in this column with "Josh McDaniels.")
Ask yourself, seriously, how you would have reacted if I had told you that Jim Tracy, Jim Tracy, would lead your beloved Rockies to one of the best records in baseball, and might, just might, take them into the playoffs. Would you have laughed? Cried? Both? Yet here we are, on the cusp of October, and the Rockies are making yet another improbable run at the playoffs while Jim Tracy pads his stats for NL Manager of the Year. But how did it happen? How did this man, of all men, turn the Rockies into winners?
But perhaps I am getting ahead of myself. It's possible that you don't know what I know, possible that you haven't seen what I've seen. So let me give you some context.
Although many of you may be new to the ways of Jim Tracy, I am not. I lived in Los Angeles during the Jim Tracy era and let me tell you, that man could not manage. To be perfectly honest, I'm surprised that man found his way out of the clubhouse on game day.
Day after day, game after game, the Dodgers' Jim Tracy made some of the worst managerial decisions I have ever seen. And I'm not talking about difficult, subjective, reasonable-minds-can-differ type decisions. I mean basic decisions -- Baseball 101 decisions. Intentional walks, infield shifts, batting lineups -- you name it, Tracy screwed it up. He had players swinging when they should have been bunting, bunting when they should have been swinging, and the man shied away from yanking pitchers like his mother was on the mound. Honestly, Jim Tracy truly made me believe that I could manage a Major League Baseball team -- he was that bad.
So what happened? How did the Dodgers' Jim Tracy become the Rockies' Jim Tracy? Seriously, I'm asking. I know that most of his Dodger teams finished above .500, and I'm going to ignore his time in Pittsburgh (let's be honest, trying to win with the Pirates is kind of like trying to win with Kyle Orton -- wait, bad example), but where did this come from? What happened to Jim Tracy between Los Angeles and Denver that turned him into the Manager of the Year?
As I sit here right now, I have three possible answers. One: Tracy might have made a deal with the devil. It seems unlikely, but it's possible. Two: Tracy might have made a deal with Bud Selig. Actually, number two seems pretty similar to number one, so that's probably not it either. Or three: Tracy hired Tim Donaghy as the Rockies' team umpire. And since Donaghy spent most of the summer in jail, let's assume it's not number three.
As you can see, I need some help. I've seen plenty of sports miracles in my lifetime (after all, I grew up on The Drive), but I have no explanation for this one. None. And since I don't know, I'm asking you. Tell me, please, what am I missing? What caused this latest mile high miracle?
Thanks in advance Denver -- I owe you one.
Follow Ari Shapiro on Twitter: www.twitter.com/shapiro_ari