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10/05/07 6:36 PM ET

Mailbag: Can Rockies earn home field?

Fans ask about balks, scheduling and rookie's award chances

Will the Rockies have four home games during the National League Championship Series if the Cubs beat the D-backs and the Rockies beat the Phillies?
-- Jud D.

Unfortunately for the Rockies, it doesn't work that way. Should the Rockies hook up with the Cubs, Colorado will indeed have had the better regular-season record: 90-73, compared to Chicago's 85-77. For that matter, the Rockies also won more games than the Phillies, who finished with 89 wins. The playoff format doesn't allow a Wild Card winner to host a playoff round, unless it is the World Series. Since the American League won the All-Star Game, the AL champ will once again have home-field advantage.

Do you think that the fact the Phillies haven't been the division champions in 14 years has affected their performance in the playoffs?
-- Kyle S.

As players like Jamie Moyer note, playoff experience certainly can be a factor. However, there are plenty of examples where players with minimal or no previous playoff experience have excelled in the postseason. From my observations, the first two games in Philadelphia came down to the Rockies simply jumping out early and then holding on. The Phillies certainly have seasoned and sensational players, like Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley and Ryan Howard. They just haven't clicked yet. In a short series, everything is magnified. And at least in the first two games, the Rockies' pitching has held the high-powered Philadelphia offense in check.

Do the Rockies have a good chance at winning the World Series? And do you think the Rockies will win their division next year?
-- Carl E.

Playoff baseball so often is about momentum. Clearly, Colorado is on a high. The club is playing with confidence. It's winning on the road and at home. Defensively, the Rockies are very strong, and the pitching hasn't gotten the notoriety of the hitting, but to win the World Series, more times than not, it comes down to pitching and defense. If the Rockies' pitching and defense hold up, the hitting is strong enough to carry the club all the way. What has impressed me is this team continues to get better.

As for next year, you can't forecast how a team will do now because so much of it comes down to pitching. If the pitching performs, then, yes, there is plenty of offense to challenge for the division title.

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Question on balking. In the third inning of Game 2, Franklin Morales threw to first and caught Ryan Howard off the bag. However, I thought the rule required the pitcher to step toward first base when making a pickoff throw. It appeared as if Morales stepped directly toward the plate (a move associated with making a pitch) and then he threw to catch Howard off first. Shouldn't this have been considered a balk since Morales not only didn't step toward the bag, but made a move associated with making a pitch?
-- Andy S.

Interesting points. To tell you the truth, when I first saw the replay, I, too, wondered if Morales' front foot was moving more toward home. After seeing the replay several times, it was close, but apparently not in violation. Neither Howard nor the Phillies really argued. For clarity, here is the language in the rule book.

The comment to Rule 8.05c: "Requires the pitcher, while touching his plate, to step directly toward a base before throwing to that base. If a pitcher turns or spins off of his free foot without actually stepping or if he turns his body and throws before stepping, it is a balk."

What is key here is the interpretation of the turn and spinning off his free foot. Morales has the advantage of being left-handed, and he executed what turned out to being an excellent move.

What are Troy Tulowitzki's chances of winning NL Rookie of the Year?
-- Michael M.

From inquiries with sports writers who vote for the award, and it is a Baseball Writers' Association of America award, it could be a close race with Milwaukee's Ryan Braun. Tulowitzki may have received a late-season boost based on the remarkable run by the Rockies. Tulowitzki clearly has turned heads with his strong play at shortstop and the fact he batted .291 with 24 homers and 99 RBIs.

Keep in mind, though, that playoff performance doesn't factor into the voting.

Why is it that here in Philadelphia, our first two home games start at 3 p.m. ET when people who want to see them are still at work or in school? Then over the weekend in Colorado, the starts are 9:30 p.m. ET and 10 p.m. ET when most people on the East Coast are going to bed. Why not start these weekend games at 3 p.m., 5 p.m. or 7 p.m. ET so we can see them? I have a 6-year-old son who has followed the Phillies all year and he is only able to see five innings of our home games and none of the away games because of the scheduling.
-- Greg S.

Very valid points. Yours is not the only e-mail I have received regarding this subject. So people know, scheduling of the playoff times is done by Major League Baseball and the television networks carrying the games. When you have teams like the New York Yankees, Chicago Cubs and Boston Red Sox in the playoffs, there obviously is strong competition for prime-time games. Once we reach the League Championship Series rounds, those late-night and mid-afternoon weekday games will be eliminated.

Joe Frisaro is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.