His managerial beginnings
Like a few other teams in 2002, the Rockies got off to a horrendous start. They started the season with a 6-16 record, which was the worst start in franchise history up to that point.
As a result of that and losing five straight games, they fired manager Buddy Bell on April 26. He was already the third MLB manager to be fired that season (fourth if you count Red Sox manager Joe Kerrigan, who was canned in spring training) as the Detroit Tigers fired Phil Garner on April 9 and the Milwaukee Brewers fired their manager, Davey Lopes, on April 18.
While both of those teams had interim managers for the remainder of the season (Luis Pujols for the Tigers and Jerry Royster for the Brewers) and both ended up being replaced after the season by former players for that respective team when they last made a trip to the World Series who also became first time managers (Alan Trammell for the Detroit Tigers and Ned Yost for the Milwaukee Brewers), the Rockies did not have an “interim” tag on Hurdle.
Rockies general manager Dan O’Dowd called Hurdle the “manager of the Rockies — not interim manager — for the remainder of the season.” He also said that Hurdle “brings passion, he brings enthusiasm, he brings a charisma I think this ballclub needs.” He added that the Rockies needed to “start playing the game with more joy and more confidence than we’ve played already this year.”
If you look at the numbers, it’s easy to see why Bell ended up getting the axe. In the first 22 games, the Rockies pitched to a 5.48 ERA. One of the worst pitchers was Mike Hampton, who went 0-3 with an 8.88 ERA.
Offensively, they also started off slow as they hit .251/.310/.383 and averaged only four runs a game. Todd Helton got off to a slow start (.266/.352/.430 slash line) as did many others.
Both Hampton and Helton felt that the players were to blame for the firing.
"“I think we’re all pretty much in shock,” Hampton said at the time. “Any time things go bad, the first person to go is the manager. That’s just the way it is. But we blame ourselves.”"
Hampton added, “If you fire anybody, you should have fired me.”