Baseball picksOctober 3, 2007

The wild, wild, West finish – the best way to end the season

The way the National League West finished the regular season is something to be talked about for years to come. The finish was a thorough antiseptic to all the icky things we witnessed during this MLB regular season (cue Barry Bonds vs. Mark Echo circus music). The way the end of the National League regular season finished, was reminiscent  of the movie “Major League” where the makeshift Cleveland Indians team finished an improbable run that culminated in a one-game playoff against the New York Yankees to move on to the post season. But this time, it was a carefully crafted Rockies squad that favored the youth movement and homegrown farm-club talent that put the pieces together for the Rockies miraculous run. Not a “bunch of has-beens and a couple of never-will-bes,” that got the job done for the fictitious Tribe. That and the Rockies flat-out deserved it. 

The Rockies put together a string of 11 straight wins en route to winning 14 of 15 to force the one-game playoff, a playoff that has only occurred seven times in the history of the league.  The Rox also have two bone fide post-season award candidates one for NL Rookie of the Year in Troy Tulowitzki and Matt Holiday for NL MVP. A mere three weeks ago, the Rockies were 6.5 games out of first place in the NL West and are now in the playoffs for the first time in 12 years.  The Rockies now meet Philly – a team that is eerily familiar to the Rockies style of play. A team that is geared for offense, the Philly’s also have their own MVP candidate and have also not made the MLB playoffs in over a decade. This series is going to be good.  But to even get to the one-game playoff the Rox needed to sweep Los Angeles, and keep it close when the NL West Arizona Diamondbacks came to town. Rockies got two of three. The Rockies also needed a little help – and they got it (thank you Milwaukee). And that is what winners do – they take the best of a situation and come out on top.   While the Padres, on the other hand, had their chances they could not capitalize. The Padres collapsed when it mattered most. Reliever extraordinaire Trevor Hoffman came within one out of the NL Wildcard spot against the Brewers. But an extra-innings affair spurred by the game-tying triple off the bat of Tony Gwinn jr., son of one of the greatest Padres in history, slammed the door on the Pads and all but deflated them for the rest of the season.

I believe it was at that exact moment when Rockies fans knew this was their year. I like the Rockies just fine, mostly because I am a Colorado homer, but baseball isn’t really my bag baby. I choose the violent symphony of the gridiron as my No. 1 passion, but I have to admit that I was fired up and watched the Rockies stretch run with baited breath.   The finish was good for baseball and even better for the city and the team. A team that lost one of its own when Class A first base coach Mike Coolbaugh lost his life to an errant line drive earlier in the summer. And as Holiday swiped his left hand across the plate to give the Rockies the win in a 13-inning come-from-behind finish, maybe it was Coolbaugh’s spirit that kicked up a little extra dust.

Mile High Magic has now expanded its coverage to be more than a football thing. It is more then “The Fumble,” more than “The Fifth Down.” Now the unpredictable “magic” and influence now covers “The Slide.”