Is this heaven? No, Colorado
This is Boston coming from three games down in the 2004 American League Championship Series. This is Daniel “Rudy” Ruettiger sacking the Georgia Tech quarterback. This is Appalachian State beating Michigan, Doug Flutie’s Hail Mary and Joey Chestnut vanquishing Kobyashi at Coney Island.This is Wilt Chamberlain’s 100-point game, the “Immaculate Reception,” and the band on the field. This is Babe Ruth’s called shot – but not even Miss Cleo could’ve predicted this outcome.This is Colorado’s Miracle on Ice. And the best part? It came out of nowhere.The Rockies hadn’t posted a winning record since 2000. They’ve finished fourth or fifth in the NL Worst in each of the last nine seasons. After the Sept. 15 10-2 loss to the Marlins – their third straight defeat – they were 4 1/2 games out of the Wild Card. Vegas’ 70-1 odds on Colorado making it all the way were, seemingly, right on the money.The only time Rockies and World Series were ever mentioned in the same sentence was with the phrase “will never reach” sandwiched in between. Coors Field should be hosting bar mitzvahs right now.But something happened, something so unfathomable it’s like trying to explain calculus to a 5-year-old. This group of unknowns, led by a manager as affable as he is quotable, started winning. And winning. And winning. They reeled off 11 straight before Brandon Webb knocked them off in Game 1 of the regular season’s final series. As if that could make these Rockies flinch. They humbled Cy Young front-runner Jake Peavy in a one-game playoff, took the fight out of the Phils, put the Snakes on a plane and outlasted all those monotonous Frank TV ads. Now, they’re ready to take on the world. They’ve won 21 out of 22 games since Sept. 16, a number so astounding it defies explanation. They’ve brought postseason excitement back to Blake Street, a place that’s been desolate for the past 11 Octobers. When I sat in the upper deck for the first game of the Yankees series in June, I caught a glimpse of what Coors Field and baseball in Denver could be. Now, I know what it can be. Fair-weather fans from Pueblo to Gunnison have woken from their summer-long hibernation. Coloradoans who were unaware the state had a baseball team are now clamoring for a spot on the bandwagon. Aspen City Manager Steve Barwick even interrupted a recent budget meeting to catch a few innings on a television that was rolled in for that very reason. I’m contemplating clashing with the hoards of voracious online ticket-seekers Monday morning to secure my spot in the Rock Pile, sitting next to a guy who smells like nacho cheese and peppermint schnapps. Is that heaven on earth or what?Who knew Todd Helton would be better off not being traded to Boston last offseason? And who would’ve thought the team with baseball’s 25th-highest salary would be representing the National League in the Fall Classic. If MVP candidate Matt Holliday were on the Red Sox, his $4.4 million wage would rank 14th, right behind Eric Hinske and Eric Gag-ne. Rock solid closer Manny Corpas is making little more than the league minimum. Troy Tulowitzki and Jeff Francis, two players who look more like cast members on Malcolm in the Middle than ballplayers, make $1.13 million – combined. Talk about a return on your investment. The Rockies could be the most unlikely bunch of World Series participants in baseball history. Their season is rife with plot twists that would make the perfect Hollywood script. (I can see it now: Emilio Estevez as Clint Hurdle.) Their unthinkable run has been the best thing to happen to the game since body paint and the personalized replica jersey.Is this destiny or an anomaly? Will the 2007 Rockies be mentioned in the same breath as Kirk Gibson and Don Larsen? Are we witness to the greatest story in sports history? Time will tell.Now, we wait for the climax.The last time Jon Maletz, a.k.a. “The Hammer,” wrote a Rockies column, Colorado lost eight straight. If the Rockies falter in the World Series, send your hate mail to email@example.com.
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