October 16, 2007

World Series Rocktoberfest 2007: Rockies NL Champs, Bring On The AL!

The Rockies win the pennant! NL Champs!
I almost can't utter the sentence without shaking my head in disbelief--the Rockies are the 2007 National League Champions!

One month ago, as I sat and watched the Rockies losing to the woeful Florida Marlins on September 14, the wild-card spot seemed a possible yet improbable goal for the unheralded and frankly unknown Colorado Rockies. As a baseball fan who had fallen from the one true faith and found solace elsewhere (a long overdue pair of Broncos Superbowl victories, and the incredible run of the Colorado Avalanche), the likelihood of any postseason scenario that included the Rockies was cynically dismissed--the Rox will find a way to blow it. Losing to the Marlins? Check. Fourth place in the NL West? Check. Just two weeks to go--not much hope.

But hidden away from the media and even the ever-dwindling fan base (barely 21,000 showed up for the game on a warm Friday night) was a team whose chemistry had already begun to fuse, bolstered by impressive defensive stats (setting the MLB team record), decent hitting, and a bullpen that could finally be (somewhat) trusted. Sure they had potential, but that would be next year, 2008. Compete for the wild card, maybe the NL West. But not this year.

Fast forward two weeks. The Arizona Diamondbacks are in town, and the Rockies not only need to win their games, but have the teams ahead of them--namely the New York Mets and the San Diego Padres--suffer monumental meltdowns. With Brandon Webb pitching, the Rockies appeared to blow any chances by losing 4-2, and ending their impressive 11 game win streak a few games short--too little too late. Yes, I was at that game (and you wonder why I was so cynical?)

Everyone knows the rest. The extra-innings tiebreaker victory, two consecutive series sweeps. Sunday night was miserably wet, but the Rockies made the cold soaking worth while. Last night, despite surrendering an error and seeing reliever Brian Fuentes return to his old (poor) form, the Rockies bent but did not break.

I will relish the euphoria of attending the decisive game 4, when the NL crowned the Colorado Rockies as the 2007 Champs. I was privileged to share that experience with my parents, and will proudly cherish the memories of the night when the Rockies silenced all those who said baseball at altitude would never work, challenged the myopic East Coast bias of the media, and turned even cynical Rockies fans into true believeRs!

Go Rockies!

Relive the Rockies sweep--Game 4 recap:

Interviews--Todd Helton, Josh Fogg, Troy Tulowitzki:

Local blog reax:
Best Destiny--"Let's just say . . . I like the history of Denver teams facing Cleveland teams in championship games."

Mount Virtus--"ESPN and the like have had a hard time figuring out who these Colorado Rockies are, this true TEAM of champions. Well, pretty soon, they’ll all find out."

ESPN's postgame recap, and 850KOA's postgame show.

"It's a far-fetched story," said Ryan Spilborghs, the backup outfielder who is such a huge clubhouse presence on this team. "It sounds like the kind of bedtime story you'd tell your 5-year-old son when he wants to hear a fairy tale. But if you told that story to the guys in this clubhouse, you know what? They'd believe you. And there'd be no doubt in anybody's mind that that was a true story.

"This group of guys has always believed we could win. So if you'd told me we'd win 21 out of 22 games with this group of guys, I'd say, 'Yeah. I believe it.'"

Clearly, they had to believe, or they couldn't have done this, right?

Couldn't have become the fifth team in the last 70 years to go 21-1 in any stretch of any season.

Couldn't have become the first team to do that in the middle of one of these mad charges to, and through, October.

Couldn't have become the second team in history (along with just the 1976 Big Red Machine) to sweep its first two postseason series in any given October.

Couldn't have become the fifth team of all time to make it from last place one year to the World Series the next.

Couldn't have become the sixth team in history to fall nine games under .500 and still climb out of that canyon to make it to the World Series.

And, finally, couldn't have become the first team ever to find itself two games out of a playoff spot with two games to play and somehow survive to scramble into the World Series.

That didn't really happen. Did it? That wasn't really possible. Was it?

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