LOS ANGELES - The universe seems to have it out for the Colorado Rockies.
The 2018 campaign has been so fraught with irony that the whole thing feels like some kind of cosmic joke.
They spent over $100 million on their bullpen so, of course, it was in shambles from May through August.
The Los Angeles Dodgers are having a down year because of injuries to key players and perhaps a bit of a hangover after their long 2017 postseason... so of course, most of the Rockies' roster is simply not playing up to their career numbers.
Colorado has had the best starting pitching in franchise history, by a wide margin. But their opening day starter had to be sent to Triple-A and most of the rotation looks lost in this most important stretch of the calendar.
It's been an absolute rollercoaster ride of a season with losses that shouldn't have been losses and wins that quite easily should not have been wins. Over 40 come-from-behind victories are matched by 27 blown saves and yet, somehow, the team hasn't gone on any long winning or losing streaks.
They are as consistent as they are volatile.
They brought back Carlos Gonzalez and then, a while later, Matt Holliday for some of the best feel-good moments of this, or any other, season.
But those heart-warming feelings will freeze and shatter if the club fails to make the postseason after spending the entire year in the thick of the hunt.
With 10 games remaining on the docket and the team 2.5 games back of the NL West and 1.5 back from a Wild Card spot, there has simply never been a more important time for the Rockies to find their fire.
They are good enough. They are deep enough. And, doggone it, people like them. But none of that matters now. What matters the most is how much heart they have.
Much of baseball comes down to mechanical adjustments, strategy, mental fortitude, and pure raw talent. But right now there has to be something more for Colorado. As ambiguous as it may sound, they need to fight for their lives with every ounce of energy they have left in the tank. Leave it all out on the field.
The 162-game season is a grinding marathon that beats you down and wears you out. And at the end of it? You still need to sprint.
Bad losses in San Francisco and frustrating ones in Los Angeles have put the team in a position where, if they can't find that extra gear, they will find themselves on the outside looking in. And that will be a punch to the gut for everyone involved.
At the beginning of the year, narrowly missing the postseason in a division that was expected to be among the best in baseball, would not have been a major disappointment. But now? It's hard to see any other way to put it.
Because progress is not linear, missing the playoffs does not spell doom for the future of this franchise. Barring they don't do anything crazy in the offseason, they would still be a favorite pick to be back in the race again in 2019. Though, that's not what anyone in this fanbase or in that clubhouse wants to hear right now.
They have played some of their worst baseball and the most important times and it starts at the top with their best players.
Everyone not named Kyle Freeland bears major responsibility for this slide and needs to dig deep and make up for it starting right now.
The collapse in 2010 was mathematically much worse than anything these Rockies could accomplish, but this is the more talented club which twists the knife that much more.
But, in the immortal words of the Monty Pythons, they are not dead yet. The Rockies have been pronounced as such many times this season but refuse to go on the cart.
The season was over when they didn't make the "right" offseason acquisitions. It was over again when the offense couldn't hit the baseball for the first month or so. It ended again in June with a swooning record marred by the ugliest losses of the season, usually featuring epic bullpen collapses.
The season was over at the trade deadline when almost everyone else in the National League made big trades while the Rockies were content to add a bullpen piece and call it good. Then, of course, the season was over when they didn't make any huge splashes on the waiver wire, going instead with a 38-year-old veteran who hadn't played all year.
The season ended once more on Wednesday night when Yasiel Puig launched one into the night sky punctuating a sweep.
Oh yes, the Colorado Rockies season has died more times than Dracula, and yet here they are.
The first 152 games showed us who this team is. The last 10 will tell us what they are made of.