On deck: Green Monster and snowballs
Fenway franks and Rocky Mountains. Ski slopes and baked beans. Not a bad setting for the final act of October.Just don’t expect Matt Holliday and the Colorado Rockies to be intimidated by the Green Monster.Back in June, long before their historic surge to an unlikely NL pennant, the baby-faced Rockies roared into Boston and took two of three from the Red Sox outscoring them 20-5.Colorado handed Josh Beckett his first loss, got a grand slam from Garrett Atkins and a nice outing from Jeff Francis. So the Rockies already know they can play with the big boys from the American League.Now, they get another chance to show their stuff on baseball’s biggest stage when the World Series opens Wednesday night at Fenway Park.There might even be some snowballs mixed in with the fastballs and curves that Curt Schilling, Manny Corpas & Co. are throwing.”I played street hockey in Canada,” Francis said. “Do you think some snow is going to bother me?”The Rockies wanted to work out Sunday at Coors Field, but a snowstorm forced their hitters inside. The forecast was for mild weather the rest of the week in Denver, with the Series shifting to Colorado for Game 3 on Saturday.”It could be 80 degrees in a week, so I’m not concerned about that,” Rockies first baseman Todd Helton said.Maybe not. But hey, Boston can be awfully chilly this time of year, too.”That’s real cold out there, it sort of bites you a little bit back East,” Helton added. “We don’t care. We’re playing in a World Series. Weather’s not going to be an issue.”Troy Tulowitzki, Kaz Matsui and the Rockies drew paltry television ratings in the NL playoffs. A few more fans will surely tune in to see if Colorado can extend its hard-to-fathom string of 21 wins in 22 games.For the wild-card Rockies, it’s their first World Series. For Manny Ramirez, David Ortiz and the hardened Red Sox, they’re looking for their second championship in four seasons after ending an 86-year title drought in 2004.”We haven’t grown up any since ’04. That’s part of what keeps these guys so good. It keeps us all loose and we never stop believing,” general manager Theo Epstein said. “The Rockies are on a magical run and we are going to have our hands full.”Hitter-friendly Coors Field and its now-famous humidor get a first look at the Series next weekend. Pushed back by a made-for-TV schedule, Game 7 is set for Nov. 1 in Boston.A month ago, the possibility of a Rockies-Red Sox matchup was downright remote.Just one strike from postseason elimination on the final weekend of the season, the Rockies take a 10-game winning streak into the opener. Coming off playoff sweeps of Philadelphia and Arizona, manager Clint Hurdle’s club earned a record eight days off before the Series.The Detroit Tigers had six days of rest last fall and looked rusty in losing to St. Louis.”I’ve already had six or seven people bring to my attention that the Tigers had a long layoff last year and didn’t play very well,” Hurdle said. “So, if you look for good, you’ll find good. If you look for bad, you’ll find bad.”Boston made it by winning the AL East and sweeping the Los Angeles Angels in the first round before overcoming a 3-1 deficit in the AL championship series against Cleveland.The Red Sox, no strangers to October comebacks, outscored the Indians 30-5 in the final three games, getting wins from Beckett, Schilling and Daisuke Matsuzaka.”We don’t quit. We beat a really good team and a classy organization,” manager Terry Francona said moments after the final out. “I’m going to go celebrate.”Of course, Boston also rallied from an 0-3 hole in the 2004 ALCS against the Yankees before sweeping St. Louis in the World Series.Now, the Red Sox face a Rockies team riding its own incredible run.”We’re past the point of being hot,” Hurdle said. “It has been a remarkable streak. … But we’ve moved past that. We’re just again looking forward to the opportunity to win the next game.”
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Prior to starting his trek across U.S., Larkins had never run more than a marathon and had never been to Colorado