BALTIMORE — Will the Rockies lose 100 games for the first time in franchise history? Does it even matter?
The math is simple but the issue is not.
To avoid 100 losses, the Rockies, with a 48-80 record through Friday night, must win at least 15 of their final 34 games. That’s no easy task for a team that entered Saturday night’s game against the Orioles riding a five-game losing streak. Of the Rockies’ remaining eight opponents, only one, the Padres, has a losing record.
Since 1961 when the American League adopted the expanded schedule, and 1962 when the National League followed suit, only six teams have never lost 100 games: the Phillies, Cardinals, Dodgers, Angels, Yankees and Rockies.
OK, enough with the simple math. The trickier part of the debate is whether or not a 100-loss season is a big deal, something to be ashamed of or something to avoid like the plague.
“It doesn’t matter,” Orioles manager Brandon Hyde said. “Whether we lost 98 or 110, it doesn’t matter. It’s just a number for me. Whether you finish in fourth or in fifth (place), you’re not in the postseason and you have a lot of work to do.”
Of course, it’s easy for Hyde to say that now that his reborn Orioles lead the challenging American League East with an 80-48 record. In 2018, the O’s lost 115 games under Buck Showalter. They lost 108 games in 2019 and 110 games in ’21, under Hyde.
Contrary to his manager’s opinion, Orioles infielder Gunnar Henderson, a candidate for AL rookie-of-the-year honors, thinks losing 100 games is a very big deal.
“I can’t speak for others, but for me, it matters, because I don’t like losing,” said Henderson, whose eighth-inning, two-run homer on Friday night extended the Rockies’ slide.
“I mean, 100 losses is not something you want and something I never want to be a part of,” Henderson added.
Rockies icon Charlie Blackmon, who was a part-time player during Colorado’s 98-loss season in 2012, provided a deadpan answer to the question.
“I think it’s one more than 99,” he said. “I think it also means that you haven’t had a very good season. But it’s obviously not good, so we’re going to try to avoid that.”
Said third baseman Ryan McMahon: “I know it’s never happened to the organization before, so for some people, I would say it really does matter. But I think where we are and where we have been over the last month, or month-and-a-half, I don’t think that’s the most important thing we have going on down the stretch.
“But, obviously, it’s not something you want to do. You don’t want to be part of the first team to have that negative attachment. So I don’t want it to happen, but I’m not sure that it matters. There are a lot of good organizations that have lost 100 games.”
The Astros, for example, in an extreme case of tanking, lost 100-plus games in three consecutive seasons: 2011 (56-106), 2012 (55-107) and 2013 (51-111). Since their dark ages, the Astros have been to the playoffs seven times, have played in four World Series and have been crowned champions twice, including last season.
But the Rockies are not the Astros and owner Dick Monfort has vowed that the Rockies will never tank, at least not on purpose.
Back in January, on a rare occasion when Monfort spoke to the media, I asked him why he didn’t like the term “rebuilding.”
“I hate that word,” Monfort responded. “I guess the connotation on rebuilding is you just get rid of everybody. You try to draft low, which we’re not (going to do). We’re not trying to get the first pick. We’re not going to tank. We never have, never will.”
Via Twitter (now “X”) and emails, I have Rockies fans frequently tell me that they want to see the Rockies lose 100 games because they believe it will force Monfort to sell the team. That is not going to happen. Monfort is not going to sell the team.
If the Rockies do lose 100 games for the first time it will mark a low point in franchise history, for sure. However, I doubt that it would prompt major changes. The sad truth is the Rockies have never won a division title in their 31 years and have just two postseason victories since the miracle of 2007. Those facts trump a 100-loss season.
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