SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – As the cool morning winds of Scottsdale swirled and the hip-hop music blared, the King of Clutch stood at the three-point line, needing to make his next three shots to win the tournament.
In his typical fashion, he managed to shock everyone with something nobody should have been surprised by, sinking all three for the win.
And eruption of elation rang out across the courtyard and echoed through the practice fields. Nearly the entire organization was there to bear witness to yet one more game-winner from Nolan Arenado.
There was one group of people, though, that however excited they’ve been over moments like these from No. 28 in the past, wanted nothing to do with celebrating this one.
The other team, led by their captain Kyle Freeland, were just mad they lost.
Hating to lose is a common trait among any group of professional athletes but some of the Colorado Rockies take it to the next level.
Chief among them, I’m told, are Freeland and Trevor Story whose rivalry spills over onto the golf course.
“Whenever we get any group of guys that golf, we have teams, we are always playing a game,” Freeland tells BSN Denver. “We keep our normal score but we also play Wolf, Carts, 666, whatever. We’re always competitive in it.”
And he has had a few epic battles with the All-Star shortstop he relies upon so heavily during the baseball season.
“Trevor hates to lose,” Freeland continued. “Last time we played he got me… I gave him strokes but he got me. Me and Trevor hate to lose and we probably show it only a little bit less out on the course than we do in baseball. It’s the natural competitor in all of us. We wanna win.”
Story admits he doesn’t like to turn the competitive spirit off… ever.
“All the time,” he says about battling his teammates. “Me and Nolan have a lot of good battles out there on the course. Ping pong, too. I think it’s fun. You like to be around guys that are like you, that are as competitive as you. We’re not just competing here at the field, it’s everywhere.”
When asked who the most competitive guy on the team is, both (actually everyone we spoke to) gave the same answer: “I would say myself.”
Story and Freeland are even competitive about which of them is more competitive.
But I asked Jon Gray to pick someone other than himself and he had to go with his fellow pitcher.
“Probably Free,” he said. “I saw him after that basketball game… it was eating him up.”
Gray can’t quite keep up on the course, “Golfing, though every time I go golfing with them I suck. I’m just out there over swinging,” he says.
But letting others win isn’t in his arsenal.
“My gaming,” Gray added. “I’m a competitive gamer. Everything I do is competitive, if I’m bowling against my wife, I try to beat her.”
Newcomer Garrett Hampson is a gamer as well. “I get pretty competitive with video games. I used to play Call of Duty as a kid now it’s just Fortnight, dude. Everyone else plays here. I just love getting on and playing with my teammates. Other sports, too, playing basketball growing up. I mean, I think all athletes want to be good at everything, you think you can be good at everything.”
Reliever Carlos Estevez echoed the love of gaming, remarking simply, “Call of Duty? Oof, let’s go! It’s go time!”
He also mentioned that he can get competitive when lifting weights.
Starter German Marquez seconded that and added running to the mix but not much else.
“Lifting… running… baseball… that’s me,” he says.
Perhaps the too most unusual answers came from the battery of Chad Bettis and Tony Wolters.
Bettis has discussed his love of chess before on the BSN Rockies Podcast, adding this time around, “For me, it’s a game that always evolves. You can learn a lot about almost any part of your life by applying chess. Also baseball. That’s why I like playing it and that’s why I get so competitive. There’s different ways to open, different ways to handle your midgame, and then, looking for checkmate, different ways to put guys away,” he says.
Wolters isn’t much of a gamer or golfer but has found a unique opponent to get the competitive juices flowing. “I mountain bike. I like competing against my dog on the trail. This last offseason, I started biking with him and he stays right behind me but then I’ll have him go in front of me and he pushes me and I push him.”
Ryan McMahon was filling in the bubble for all of the above.
“Anything honestly… golf, video games… losing sucks, that’s my quote,” he said with a wide smile.
That quote was maybe only outdone by the one-word answer that Ian Desmond gave to the question of what he is most competitive about.
The Colorado Rockies take the field on Thursday in Miami for their first regular season game of 2019 and have the best chance at a Division Championship or World Series the franchise has ever seen.
And, in all aspects of life, they will be ready to compete.