Big Sluggers Continue to Dazzle Area Baseball Fans
Last week, local baseball fans were excited to learn that the Rocky Mountain Vibes made history by clinching a playoff spot for the first time in franchise history. At press time, the championship round had not concluded and the Vibes were one win away from moving into the big title arena.
Even though the team didn’t make it to the fin al round and bring home the big trophy, their improvements were lauded by fans as they did what many thought couldn’t get accomplished: get in into the playoffs and win their first post-season showdown.
What a change in direction.
Before the season started, the executives of the Rocky Mountain Vibes team were excited and boasted that they had the best sluggers in the league. And in the end, the Vibes won their South Division to clinch a playoff spot. And to make fans even more excited they routed their opponents during Game One in the playoffs and shut them out by an 11-0 score.
This wasn’t an easy path to baseball glory.
In fact, injuries riddled the team in the beginning making them fall close to last place in the Pioneer League.
But then at the half way point of the season, things started to change for the better. The offense continued to stay dialed in and issues with pitching seemed to be somewhat worked out.
Towards the end of the season, the Vibes schedule was filled with glorious comebacks. The super high scoring games often ended with the Vibes coming out on top.
But as the season started to end, it became clear that the team needed to hold it together to experience post season action. The Vibes hung in there and before the regular season actually ended, they clinched a spot for a chance to win the Pioneer League Championship.
In order to clinch a playoff round, the Vibes had to win their division in the second half and please the complicated equation the Pioneer League sets forth for their champions. And once they did it marked a big first for the team.
For the first time in franchise history, the team held a playoff game at their home field last week. The game was originally scheduled for Monday but rainy weather pushed the match back to Tuesday afternoon.
But despite performing in front of a small crowd, the Vibes immediately let their fans know they meant business. The Vibes were quick to put points on the board against the Ogden Raptors and they kept scoring.
Before the game, the team’s coach Les Lancaster said that the key to the game would be good play on the mound. “It’s defense as always, both teams can hit,” Lancaster said.
And the team’s defense definitely held up. The team’s starting pitcher Nico Zeglin held together in seven innings and didn’t allow a single run.
There was one time where the bases were loaded but the Vibes defense got off the field after a glorious diving catch of a pop fly in the outfield. The closing pitcher held things together and gave the Vibes an amazing shutout victory.
At the time of the deadline, the Vibes just needed one more win against Ogden to move to the league championships which were played last weekend.
Long Road from the Sky Sox to a Playoff Team
Now in previous years the team the baseball team that played at UCHealth Park was called the Colorado Springs Sky Sox. The Sky Sox jumped around MLB teams as a AAA farm team starting with the Cleveland Indians (now Guardians), the Colorado Rockies, and then the Milwaukee Brewers.
But after a few years with the Brewers, the team moved the Sky Sox to Texas leaving the Olympic City without any sort of baseball team. In 2019, the Brewers decided to utilize the stadium in the Springs for their rookie league team.
But at this point the team had no name. The execs asked for help from the public to come up with a name for their new baseball team.
But the name that was voted by the public was instantly nixed by team leaders. Instead of going along with the crowd and naming the team the Rocky Mountain Oysters, the franchise executives chose the Rocky Mountain Vibes.
The Vibes played for one season in 2019 as a rookie level farm team for the Brewers and then the pandemic hit. During 2020, there was no minor league baseball.
Then in 2021, the MLB restructured their minor league teams making them contract teams that were not affiliated with a major league team. Since the team was running out of options, they decided to partner up with the Mexican Baseball team Acereros de Monclova.
The Vibes suffered in 2021 and had one of the worst teams in the Pioneer League. Then in 2022, the Vibes had another disastrous start forcing team management to rework their contract with the team from Mexico at the season’s halfway point.
The move allowed the Vibes to acquire players from the entire league and the U.S. instead of just players south of the border. The team instantly improved.
And then to start 2023, the team made some major moves during the offseason. They acquired a new coach and picked up a slew of heavy hitters.
But as things were not going well in the beginning, the Vibes kept making roster changes until improvements would become clear. The team won their division and made the playoffs for the first time since they became the Vibes and hopefully they have what it takes to take home a championship.