National League West heats up with Dodgers, Giants, Padres — not Rockies

Sitting in the press box at Coors Field on Friday night watching the Dodgers clobber the Rockies — again — I was struck by a few things.

First, the Dodgers are more talented than the Rockies in nearly every way. Second, the Rockies sure try hard, but the Dodgers play with swagger and confidence. Third, if I’m a Rockies player, I’d be sick to death of the chants of “Let’s Go Dodgers!” ringing in my home ballpark.

And, finally, how cool would it be if the Rockies actually had a rival? What if they actually had games fans marked down on their calendars. And no, I’m not talking about when the Cubs or Cardinals come to town. I’m talking about the Broncos vs. Raiders, back in the day.

It’s too bad. Because the National League West race looks wild indeed.

Except that the Rockies aren’t a part of it. Sigh.

Of course, neither are the Diamondbacks. They’re the worst team in the majors and on pace to finish 45-117. Ugh.

The second half of the season tempts us with a three-team race featuring the Giants, Dodgers and Padres. According to FanGraphs, the Dodgers have a 99.5% chance of making the playoffs, with the Giants (91.5%) and Padres (91%) close behind.

“It’s gonna be exciting the last couple months of the season trying to chase down the division,” Los Angeles all-star Justin Turner said. “It should be a lot of good baseball.”

And it will be intense.

The Giants-Dodgers rivalry dates back to the late 19th century when both franchises were in New York. It’s great to see them going at each other again.

And now the Dodgers-Padres SoCal rivalry looks like the real deal.

The seven games in April between the two teams were filled with drama, heroics and genuine dislike. For example, Fernando Tatis Jr., the most entertaining player in the game, homered twice against Los Angeles ace Clayton Kershaw at Dodger Stadium, 22 years to the day after his father famously hit two grand slams in an inning at the same venue.

The Rox and D-Backs tried to kindle a rivalry back in 2007 when Colorado swept the Snakes in the National League Championship Series en route to its only World Series. But it’s hard to stir things up when both teams spend so much time battling to stay out of the NL West basement.

Neither franchise looks close to changing that narrative.

The Dodgers and Giants, two historic and storied franchises, have captured the most National League pennants, the Dodgers with 24 and the Giants right behind with 23. The Dodgers have won the NL West 19 times and the Giants eight since the beginning of the divisional era in 1969.

The Dodgers have won the last eight NL West titles. The Giants last won the West in 2012. The D-Backs won it in 2011. The last time the Padres captured the division was in 2006.

Arizona, which entered the majors in 1998, five years after the Rockies, has won the NL West five times.

The Rockies? They have never won a division title.

But, then, you knew that.

Listen, I’m all for party decks, Rocky Mountain sunsets, perfect summer nights in LoDo, and the Home Run Derby when the All-Star Game comes to town. Coors Field is a great place to bring the family or show off to friends from out of town.

But it sure would be nice to go to games in September, knowing there was a lot at stake and that Coors Field was rockin’ for the Rockies. Not the Dodgers.

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