Go ahead, tell Charlie Blackmon he’s stuck way out in right field for a baseball team without a clue and the Rockies are doomed to the colossal failure of a 100-loss season. But be forewarned. It’s going to make Chuck Nazty sunflower seed-spitting mad.
“Personally, I don’t really care what anybody else thinks about me or the team. I don’t,” Blackmon said Wednesday, during a video conference with reporters. “I don’t you think you guys have any …”
Ruh-roh. Calling this a lost baseball season in LoDo before it begins gets Nazty so irked that on video it was plain to see the chip on his shoulder grow as big as his beard.
Think the Rockies are doomed to stink?
“You don’t have as much an idea as I do and the people inside the clubhouse. Let’s just say that’s fair. So I don’t really let what people think outside the clubhouse affect what I do inside the clubhouse,” Blackmon insisted.
“If I were to let the fact some member of the national media says we’re going to stink this year or whatever, if I let that change how I feel or how I think or how I prepare, what kind of professional player am I? I’m going to do my best, like I do every year, and I expect the same from my teammates around me. I think we’re going to go out there and be super competitive and play good baseball.”
Super competitive? Without Nolan Arenado? Did the Rockies report to spring training in Arizona or a state of denial?
Hey, Chuck loves Nado. Always has. Always will. Earlier this month, when the Rockies traded Arenado and $51 million to St. Louis for a box of Thin Mints and five guys you never heard of, it rocked Blackmon’s world.
“My first thought? I don’t get to play with one of my buddies. And that hurts. He’s a guy I enjoyed being around and he’s a guy I’ll certainly keep in touch with as we go forward,” Blackmon said.
“Secondly, he’s a great baseball player. And anytime you take a great baseball player off a team, you’re going to lose whatever that production is. (Arenado) being a good player, we’re going to lose some production. The third part of that coin — coins only have two parts, but anyway — is how do we move forward in the wake of his absence? That’s the part that doesn’t scare me as much as it did initially … when I look around and see the talent in our locker room.”
If there’s a theme emerging from this camp, it’s defiance from players such as Blackmon and starting pitcher Kyle Freeland. To a man, the Rockies admire Arenado. But it’s also evident the players left to pick up the pieces from the trade are ticked by the perception that nothing remains in the Colorado clubhouse except rag arms and broken bats.
As a believer our local boys of summer will be big losers in LoDo, I gave Blackmon a chance to improve my attitude, asking him why he has faith this team won’t be the Bad News Denver Bears.
“Because we have good players is the short answer,” Blackmon replied. “Because the potential of most of our players I expect to see on the field for the Rockies is well above league average.”
What makes him Chuck Nazty is far more than the trademark beard. While many of us tend to look at the world in black and white, swipe left or right and the hot take du jour, Blackmon sees everything through the technicolor lens of his own private kaleidoscope.
Blackmon believes: Life, like hitting an ankle-biting slider, is not meant to be easy.
“If you want to feel alive, go out there and get your butt kicked, or strike out in a big spot, or make that big error that loses the game,” Blackmon said. “For me, that’s when I feel most alive. I hate it. And I want to change it and don’t let it happen again.”
I thanked Blackmon for sharing his philosophy, even though it made me wonder if a no-hoper like myself should feel way more alive than I do.
The cynic inside me also itched to ask Blackmon: If misery is the fruit of life, will Coors Field be a whole grove of rotten apples in 2021 as the Rox get their butts kicked by the Dodgers and Padres?
But there’s also more to life than the National League standings in your morning Denver Post. For example: Blackmon is adjusting to fatherhood, after his wife recently delivered a beautiful baby daughter.
“It keeps me on my toes,” Blackmon said. “It’s kind of like trying to figure out a Rubik’s Cube, like you just know you’re never going to do it, but you keep trying. It’s super rewarding.”
What’s tougher and more enjoyable: Hitting a baseball or being a Dad?
“Good question. The right answer is obviously being a Dad. That’s the right answer,” Blackmon said.
“But I’ll tell you what. I really like getting hits. I love getting hits. I want to win everything. Yeah, there are more important things than baseball. I love my family and love my daughter. But I still really, really want to win baseball games.”