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Ramsey: Sky Sox, and Rockies, must focus on winning today

April 11, 2014 Updated: April 12, 2014 at 12:16 am
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Sky Sox manager Glenallen Hill takes the field during the home opener on Friday, April 11, 2014. (The Gazette/Jerilee Bennett)

Glenallen Hill spoke radical words for a minor league baseball manager.

"Winning," he said, "is extremely important."

Yes, you heard him right. Hill, leader of the Colorado Springs Sky Sox, believes winning is a big deal, a top priority.

Minor league baseball is a complicated creature. Nobody wants to remain where they are, and everyone is afraid of being either sent down or sent out. Fans want to see a winning team while parent clubs, in this case the Colorado Rockies, emphasize the vague, at times infuriating concept of player development.

What exactly is meant by player development? Everything, and nothing.

Hill took a break from an early dinner to talk about his minor league baseball philosophy.

"You're talking about players trying to put themselves in position to play big-league ball and what are they trying to do up there? They're trying to win games."

This is true. And if the Sky Sox learn how to win at Security Service Field, it's only logical this winning attitude will travel to downtown Denver.

The Sky Sox delivered an encouraging comeback against the Round Rock Express on Opening Night. They won 11-10 in 11 innings. This effort lifts the spirits of those who hope the Sky Sox can soar to a winning record. That's right. A winning record.

That would clash with the recent norm for the Sky Sox, and the Rockies. In the past three seasons, the Sky Sox and Rockies have combined to lose 84 more games than they've won. It's been a dreary era for baseball on The Front Range.

As the 2014 season begins, I'm hoping the powers that be who oversee the Rockies and the Sky Sox will embrace a simple emphasis:

Winning is paramount.

Sure, sending "developed' players to Coors Field is crucial, but it's also always a reliable excuse. Last season, after the Sky Sox faded to a 66-76 record, Hill talked positively about "player development."

This follows a theme for the organization. The leaders of the Rockies often extol the wonders of tomorrow, which is a tremendous way to divert attention from the sorrows of today.

There is hope for the Sky Sox. Pitchers Tyler Matzek and Christian Friedrich could dominate Triple-A, and Ryan Wheeler and Kyle Parker could lead a prolific offense. And Hill promises a team that will "apply pressure from the first pitch to the last pitch."

I hope to see this promised pressure. Last season's Sky Sox pressure gradually faded on its way to almost vanishing. The Sky Sox lost 31 of their final 47 games.

But now is a time of promise. Winter is over. Well, in our case it's almost over, and warm nights of summer are around the bend.

The first pitch of the Sky Sox home season was a few minutes away, and Hill needed to stop talking and start working. I asked if last season's losing record bothered him.

"Not at all," he said.

Why not?

"I don't define myself by wins and losses," Hill said.

Those are frightening words.

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