The Colorado Rockies clubhouse during a long losing streak is bleak and downcast. A suffocating silence fills the room. Players and coaches talk in whispers—never doubt that this franchise feels the hopelessness of losing.
Worlds collide—Major League Baseball and the nuances of mental health. Hopelessness attacks in and out of sports. Of course, in life the boundaries are not as precise as fair and foul territory. Hopelessness affects the writer, the broadcaster, the player, the mom and the fan.
Is this spring the end to the Rockies’ hopelessness? The current attempt to create a winning culture started with change. The Rockies replaced longtime excuse-maker and General Manager, Dan O’Dowd, with a Harvard trained expert. The new GM, Jeff Bridich, took over and looked to change the organization in 2015.
Bridich attempted to find a balance between the Rockies strengths and weaknesses. He’s committed to a new a purpose—a winning culture of young players, strong bats and real pitching.
The Rockies stopped blaming their circumstances on their environment. They threw out talk that altitude makes pitching in Colorado impossible. The years of damage done by that negative self-talk are reversing.
To get to a better team mentality, the Rockies had to stop listening to other teams’ formulas. Colorado cannot spend money like the perennial World Series San Francisco Giants or the Hollywood budgeted Los Angeles Dodgers. They have no curse to kill like the Chicago Cubs. The Rockies solution must be unique to this franchise—strong hitting and sound pitching.
The first two years of Bridich’s tenure offered mixed results. At times even Dinger failed to get the crowd excited. Charlie Blackmon let his beard get out of control. The crowd singing “Hey Baby” for the thousandth time was feeble. Even the rooftop party deck felt like an empty mall many nights.
This is a minor quibble, but one key mistake from Bridich himself came in the form of a wall. The Bridich Barrier in right field shut out some of the Rockies home run success. It is a painful reminder of what can happen when you don’t deal with all of your problems. #TearDownTheBridichBarrier
So this spring, the Rockies are hoping to build on last year’s decent team. They have an excellent batting lineup. They have four solid starters in place. They have signed some key free agents and are hoping for a real bullpen.
It’s hard to be sure, but that depressing purple haze over the Rockies might be melting. The shade of purple on their uniforms is even a little lighter.
Hope is about seeking out the right people, strategies and treatment. This spring the Rockies and their fans can finally be hopeful again.
This is not a perfect sports analogy. However, I believe that we need to create a more positive and open mental health culture. That starts by addressing the issues of depression, anxiety and other mental health crises in all walks of life. Sports can be a great way to escape life’s problems, but they can also help be part of mental health solutions.
Where can you find information to start a conversation on mental health? I would suggest MakeItOk.com. They sponsor a great podcast, The Hilarious World of Depression.