Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Rocky Mountain High

Are you prepared to live in a world where the Colorado Rockies are the National League Champions?

I know I am.

I don’t care that they beat the Padres three weeks ago in that one game playoff. I don’t care that no one watched the NLCS this year. I don’t even care that-- according to the K’ster, their entire team is really into Christianity and will probably turn their team logo into the Born-Again Christian Fish next year. The Rockies are on an incredible run. They’ve won 21 out of their last 22 games. They’ve won 10 in a row. They’ve become the first team to sweep through the NLDS and NLCS. And gosh darn it, they’re a pretty entertaining team to watch.

The Colorado Rockies are a genuine feel-good sports story. If this team were in New York or Boston they would have been hyped to death by now. ESPN would have done like three Outside the Lines on them, they would have been the lead story on every SportsCenter, their games would probably have been simulcast on ESPN Classic, and Skip Bayless’ head would have exploded while comparing this team to the 1995 Yankees.

We would have hated them.

Instead I bet half the baseball fans out there couldn’t pick Matt Holliday out of a police lineup right now. And since ESPN apparently thinks that the Yankees managerial position -- a story that will have little bearing on anything until April 2008 (another seven freaking months from now) is more newsworth, the Rockies haven’t gotten any of the overboard EPSN-hype yet. And you know what? That’s one of the reasons this team is so likeable.

My friend Matt and I were talking about the Rockies on Sunday and we couldn’t believe that this was the same team that seemed like they were 8-10 games behind the Padres the entire season. I mean, this team really came from nowhere to go on this remarkable run. Look at their record at the end of each month of the season.

April: 11-6; 5.5 games back, last place
May: 25-29; 6.5 games back, last place
June: 39-43; 8 games back, fourth place
July: 53-55; 3.5 games back, fourth place
August 68-65; 6 games back, fourth place

This team didn’t have a month where they finished with a record over .500 until August. How a team like that can go on a run like this is unheard of. And that what makes this team fun to cheer for. They’ve lost one game since September 16th. They pitch well, they hit in the clutch, they play spotless defense and by golly there just plain good.

Maybe it’s my general disdain for the Padres front office that’s making me like the Rockies so much. Maybe it’s the fact that I’m going to Denver in about a month. Or maybe it’s the fact that the only other thing I have going for me in sports right now is rooting for a 3-3 Charger team that is hanging on by hairs of its ass.

All I know is that next week the Rockies are going to play either the Red Sox or Indians in the World Series and they’ll most likely be the underdogs. If they somehow pull it off, maybe, just maybe, they’ll get more hype than a team that hasn’t won a World Series in seven years…

Here are 10 more thoughts on a solid sports weekend:

1. The Indians are the second best story to emerge this postseason. This team can flat-out hit. I watched them a lot this postseason and it seems like every time they’ve fallen behind they come back the next inning and score some runs. An Indians-Rockies series would be pretty sweet. Both those teams are just playing out of their minds right now.

2. What the hell happened to Manny Ramirez? He had a chance to drive in the go-ahead runs on Saturday night and he hit into a double play and again last night he came up in a big spot and AGAIN he hit into a double play. I’m going out on a limb a little here but if he keeps this up, I’m predicting this is the offseason the Red Sox finally trade Man-Ram.

(What about to San Francisco? That would be hilarious.)

3. Even though I’m not as big a baseball fan as I used to be, I watched that entire 6-hour marathon Saturday night. My thoughts? That was a looooooonnnnnng freaking game. And Eric Gagne sucks. The only good thing that came out of that game was the fact that I ate some carne asada chips earlier in the game (between the 4th and 5th innings) and got hungry enough to eat a California Burrito the size of Ryan Garko between the 9th and 11th innings. Good times!

4. I may be ready for life with the Colorado Rockies as the NL champs but I’m not ready for a world where the number top ranked teams in college football are Southern Florida and Boston College. I was watching the LSU game until they were up by two touchdowns in the third quarter and decided to play Madden until the Sox-Indians game and it turns out somehow Kentucky came back to beat them. And later that night Cal had a chance to claim the number one spot but they lost to Mike Riley’s Oregon State.

Mediocrity is killing this college football season. Once the regular season ends in early December is anyone going to wait around for six weeks to watch Boston College play South Florida? If it’s going to continue to be like this they definitely need a playoff system.

5. The Patriots are ridiculously good. Even if they lose to the Colts in a couple of weeks they could very easily be 15-1 with home field advantage throughout the playoffs. The ironic thing is, the way it’s breaking it looks like the Chargers -- with their defense and running game in a snowstorm that would limit the Patriots passing game, would have the best shot to come into Foxboro in January and beat New England. It’d take a heck of an effort though. The Patriots look unstoppable right now.

6. I just want to say that this past weekend was the second straight weekend that we brought back “shots for every Charger touchdown” and this was the second straight week that the Chargers looked really good. Maybe we’re on to something. After weeks of looming in mediocrity, LT rushed for 198 yards and is leading the AFC in rushing again. I’ll hold out to see how they do the next few weeks (especially during the Colts game) before I declare that the Chargers are back, but at least they look good again.

After the bye they have the Texans and then go to Minnesota -- two winnable games that they can’t screw up. And then they have a showdown with the Colts. After that they go to J’ville, host the Ravens and go to KC and then Tennessee. They could go 7-0 over this stretch or 2-5 and I wouldn’t be surprised either way. I officially don’t know what to expect from these guys.

7. I’m thinking way ahead here, but ideally the Colts lose to the Jags next Monday, beat the Patriots in about 19 days, lose to the Chargers and then have another hiccup somewhere along the way. That would allow the Chargers to sneak into the number two slot setting up a potential SD-Indy rematch in January followed by another shot at the Patriots in Foxboro.

I don’t want to get ahead of myself but I’m just saying there’s a possibility of an Ali-Foreman-Frazier scenario developing here where the Chargers can beat the Colts but not the Patriots, the Patriots can beat the Chargers and not the Colts, and the Colts can beat the Patriots but not the Chargers and it just depends on who plays who.

8. Three weeks ago I went to get a Charger jersey-- you know, just to mix things up a little since they were lousy and all. I wanted a jersey with the number stitched on so my choices were limited to LT, Phil Rivers, and Shawne Merriman. Since I already had an LT jersey and my friend Matt regularly wears his LT jersey over for Charger games I couldn’t go with Tomlinson. My next thought was to go with Rivers but you know what? I couldn’t do it. I mean isn’t that the ultimate litmus test for how you feel about a player? If this was last year I would have been confident enough in Rivers to throw down on his jersey without flinching. Instead I sat in the Chargers store and tried on both jerseys multiple times before finally going with the Merriman jersey. My reasoning was, there is no chance Merriman wasn’t going to be on the Chargers five years from now. I could have said the same about Rivers last year, but this year I’m not so sure. He looks shaky back there like he had six cups of coffee and three Red Bulls before the game or something. I don’t know if the new offensive coordinator or if he’s regressing or if he’s trying to do too much or what but he’s no where near the same quarterback he was last year.

Look at that interception he threw to Thomas Howard on Sunday. If you watch the replay you can see that he had an opportunity to check down to LT -- which would have been fine since it was first or second down and they had a two touchdown lead. Instead he passes up LT, starts looking downfield, feels some pressure than lobs the ball in the middle of nowhere and gets it picked off. The excuses / reasons for his play are endless-- new coaches, new receivers, new coordinators. But the point is, my confidence in him isn’t as high because he’s killing the Chargers with some of the plays he’s making. If he pulls this same crap against the Texans or in Minnesota they’re going to lose. They definitely can’t beat the Colts and would probably lose in J’ville, KC and Tennessee as well. So if you’re looking for a key to the rest of the Charger season it’s the play of Phil Rivers. Plain and simple.

9. Holy crap! Just found out that the Chargers just traded for Dolphin receiver Chris Chambers. This is a huge trade. Suddenly they have a receiving corps of Gates, Chambers, and Vincent Jackson which is a big upgrade over Gates, Jackson and the Buster Davis / Malcolm Floyd / Kasim Osgood pu-pu platter. If you look at it, everyone’s job will be easier now. Instead of drawing the main coverage (like he did in Miami) defenses will key on Gates first which should free up Chambers. And now, instead of going against the other team’s number one corner, Jackson gets their number two corner. And of course Chambers -- a legitimate deep threat will take a tremendous amount of pressure off of Gates. What a HUGE trade! I’m giddy. Please excuse me while I spend the next five minutes high-fiving myself.

(OK, I’m back)

10. You want a prediction for tonight? I’m going with the Indians with the Red Sox pulling one out behind Beckett on Wednesday, and the Tribe beating Schilling or Dice K on Friday or Saturday. I’m genuinely excited for an Indians-Rockies World Series. New York-Boston is played out and their fans (especially Boston fans) are somewhat annoying and I wouldn’t nearly be as excited to watch the Sox win another World Series.


Kristine said...

I am certainly not ready to live in a world where Notre Dame is 1-6 (about to be 1-7 after USC this weekend), Trevor Hoffman allowed 3ER and couldn't get an out in the bottom of the 9th to blow a save, and the Rockies are World Series Champions. Next thing I know, they're going to let George W. Bush be President for another four years! I can't live like this!

Finally, the Rockies are also giving their post season bonuses to the widow of the minor league first base coach who died after getting hit in the head by a line drive. Is there such a thing as too feel good-ish? The Rockies are one "Jesus Christ let me recover from a concussion so I can have the game winning hit" away from that answer being a firm, "yes."

I love God and everything but hey Rockies! Keep it in your soul! And no Christian Rock while you're at it!

The end.

steve said...

I have the same dilemma Phil when I had to decide between Gates or Rivers jersey. In the end I got Rivers jersey. I think he'll be alright, just sophomore's blues. Getting Chambers is a great move by the Chargers. Hopefully, they will trade for an All-Pro conner back soon!

Uncle John (Steve)