How does evolutionary biology connect to the Rockies?

DENVER – There is a new TV documentary that features the Colorado Rockies and a very unlikely guest.

World renown animal behavioral biologist Marc Bekoff of Boulder was asked by Major League Baseball to study the team's relief pitchers. He was as surprised as anyone.

Bekoff spent time with the Rockies pitchers in the clubhouse and bullpen and interviewed closer LaTroy Hawkins personally.

He watched what they did, made notes of their actions and used his expertise to compare the pitchers' behaviors to that of some wild animals.

Believe it or not, Bekoff says there are many similarities.

He says the relief pitchers are similar to packs, and there is a leader.

In the Rockies case, that is Hawkins. Bekoff said it's usually the closer. When he talks, the other pitchers listen.

Bekoff says watching him with the other pitchers reminded him of how "high ranking animals ... often express their status without threatening or fighting and are the main focus of attention."

The researcher says pitchers are understandably anxious before going into a game and will sometimes fidget and pace to get rid of anxiety. Wild animals often do similar things when anxious.

He also noticed that baseball players will take part in rituals, especially when warming up. Wolves, coyotes and other animals also have rituals.

Bekoff says despite their horrible record this season, the Rockies pitchers are talented, professional and care a lot about what they do on the field.

BLOG: The Behavior of Relief Pitchers

More of his study will be featured in a sports special on FOX Sports 1 called "Closer Kingdom."

It runs Saturday Aug. 9 at 11:30 a.m. and 7 p.m.

(KUSA-TV © 2014 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)


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