The Rockies need to shift their mentality and embrace the altitude

Other Colorado teams embrace playing at altitude, its time the Rockies start doing the same.

Pittsburgh Pirates v Colorado Rockies
Pittsburgh Pirates v Colorado Rockies / Doug Pensinger/GettyImages

5280. One mile above sea level. For most teams in Denver this strikes fear into the hearts of their opponents, however in baseball, 5280 might as well be a four-letter word. From the humidor to raising outfield fencing, the Rockies have tried for years to mitigate the effects of playing baseball at altitude. They even went as far as using a piggyback system in the rotation that failed miserably and made the Rockies look even more inept. It’s time for a shift in attitude when it comes to playing at altitude.

Every other team that plays in the Denver market uses the altitude to their advantage going as far as posting signs outside visiting locker rooms that warn of altitude sickness. The Broncos during the fourth quarter show videos of opposing players sucking down oxygen on the sidelines to remind opponents about the thin air. At Ball Arena, there are similar effects, and it is made well known to visiting teams that you are indeed 5280’ above sea level.

Houston Texans v Denver Broncos
Houston Texans v Denver Broncos / Doug Pensinger/GettyImages

The Rockies really need to embrace playing at altitude instead of using it as an excuse as to why pitchers don’t perform well here. Teams coming to play at Coors Field should be intimidated by our altitude, especially opposing pitchers, who should loathe throwing in our house. The Rockies bats need to make Coors Field a house of pain for opposing pitchers, using the same scare tactics that are employed by the other teams that call Denver home would be a good start. 

There is a reason that the US Olympic teams train just down the road in Colorado Springs, because conditioning at altitude provides better results than it does at sea level. Why the Rockies don’t use this to their advantage is beyond me, our players should be in better shape than any other team in the majors and we should be more effective on the base paths because of this. Stealing bases, playing solid defense, and covering more outfield than any other team should be the building block for a successful team. Instead, the Rockies try to figure out ways to combat playing a mile high rather than embracing it. 

2011 USA Pro Cycling Challenge - Stage Six
2011 USA Pro Cycling Challenge - Stage Six / Doug Pensinger/GettyImages

Colorado needs to start scaring the pants off pitchers who aren’t familiar with pitching within the unfriendly confines of Coors Field. Adding another outfield bat like Hilliard’s is a good start but with that strikeout rate I think the Rockies could do better than kicking the tires on a player who’s already been around the block with the Rox once. Nevertheless, at least the GM is recognizing the need for more impactful bats in the outfield. Hopefully, the organization as a whole will recognize that playing at altitude is something that should be coveted and not dismissed as a hinderance.  

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