Monday, October 29, 2007

Goodnight, Season

Congratulations to the 2007 World Champion Boston Red Sox. That sentence stings to type, but it's true. At the end of the day they were the better team -- they pitched better and hit better, and that's the formula that wins you championships. Our Cinderella story wasn't enough to get us over the hump over a team that's us in 2 or 3 years -- a finished product with the right mix of experience and youth. Perhaps the layoff did affect us after all, as I do not think we played the way we are capable of playing, but it's true that the Red Sox were just better.

This Series hurt and wasn't much fun to watch. I can't say I enjoyed it. But nothing can take away from what we did this year, not even slavering Sox fans and mediots claiming this proves their point about the superiority of the AL. It's still been an almost even trade-off between NL and AL for championships. AL, NL, AL, NL, AL, AL, NL, AL.

How odd it is to love a baseball team. How strange and tender I feel now... just tired, sad, and relieved, slightly hollowed out, in undeniable pain, in relief to have it end, despair of the offseason and hope for next year. Strangely enough, I love the Rockies more than ever, my devotion to them becomes fierce, my love completely untested and part of me forever. Defeat does not break me. The gloating might bother me (as I may have mentioned, the most annoying person on my campus is a Red Sox fan and I do not think that is by accident). Brian Fuentes may have single-handedly killed the last two games for us and it's time for him to be shown the door (once a season-killer, always a season-killer). I've heard tantalizing rumors about us pursuing Ian Snell. And nothing came of it, but that eighth-inning home run by Atkins still made me want to bear his children.

I find myself wondering what it is, over and over, what makes us tick as baseball fans. Pain and pleasure alike have been a big part of October, as is always. We lost the war, but we won this battle; we are the NL champs and nothing can take that away from us. What we did was unprecedented and I look forward to building on it next year. The day after the World Series is like the day after Christmas. Such a letdown... time to bring on the hot stove and see if we can improve upon the pieces we have in place. Our kids have postseason experience and hopefully won't be deer in the headlights. And we didn't choke. While admittedly not playing our best by a long shot, we just ran into a team that was hot at the right time and did the right things.

Let nobody disparage this Colorado Rockies team for how it ended. They were a part of the last game of 2007. They've climbed the peak for the first time, and I don't expect them to be content with mediocrity, now that they've had a taste of rarified air. They will be back. If nothing else, Tulo won't take this.

I love them brutally, so much that it does things like this to me. Next year can't come soon enough. I want to be back there, I hope that what they've done this year will entice others to come as well. The year is over now, I feel very sad and upset about its close, and of course I wish it could have ended differently, but if anything else, this has intensified the deep love that I will and always bear for my Colorado boys.

See you next year, Red Sox. Goodnight, season. Come soon, spring training. The offseason is dark and cold.

Friday, October 26, 2007

I submit my resignation

from Purple Row, this blog, and associated other mediums, at least for the next few days. I just cannot do this anymore. After struggling with depression over the summer, I managed to boot it when I went back to school, but it's coming back now with a vengeance (before the Series started, I might add) and I just have zero emotional energy to spare for the arguing, attacking, wrangling, weaving rollercoaster that this is putting me through.

It's sucked all the life out of something (Rockies baseball) that I love more than just about anything, and I have other things that need to be dealt with instead. Staying in bed until 3pm because I have no desire to get up, always feeling tired, depression, loneliness, homesickness, et all are the tip of the iceberg and that's all I really care to say because I'm tired of fighting about that as well. Tired of hearing that something I'm passionate about is somehow inferior, wrong, twisted, broken, not up to par, etc. Nothing against you all, but it's time for me to step back. I may watch the games, I don't know that I'll post. Happy trails.

Thursday, October 25, 2007


I disdain saying more, except: It has to get better from here. 0-1. Pah. Nothing. We'll go back to Coors 1-1 and it'll be okay.

That said, tonight felt like being sodomized with a broken bat and a fistful of tacks.

I make no apologies for that mental image.

Night all.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Well, Now We Know

And frankly, once the Indians lost Game 5, I wasn't too surprised. They had a chance to close it out at home with their ace on the mound, and choked, then went to Fenway and lost again with their other ace on the mound, and neither of them impressed at all. You just kind of knew the Sox were going to win tonight, no matter how much you hoped otherwise, and well, they did. The Boston Yankees, I should say. Arrogant fans, arrogant jerkwad players, buying up everything they need, no longer the lovable underdog, they're just the Evil Empire redux. May they be pwninated in four.

I'm sure everyone and his brother will pick the Sox in four or five. Hell, I hope they pick the Sox in "three" -- we know how well that worked for the Tigers last year. Because they're the big, bad, AL, because ESPN loves that one of their media juggernauts made it, because they have Josh Freakin' Beckett. Well, anybody bother to check the stats? Seems to me we outscored the Sawx 20-5 at Fenway in June, put a world of hurt on Schilling and Beckett, and took two out of three. See, we've been playing well since BEFORE September.

A few reasons the Rockies are going to rock the Sox:

-- Since May 22, we've had baseball's best record at 79-45; we just had to turn on the afterburners for that final hump into September.

-- We were 21-12 against the AL the past two seasons, a .636 winning percentage, and that was before we were razing everything in our path.

-- The Red Sox play in the AL, sure. They also play in the East. I bet we could have won 96 games if we got to face the Blue Jays, Devil Rays, and Orioles (the first one mediocre, the latter two totally inept) 50 or 60 times a year.

-- The Rockies have lost exactly one game since the middle of September. Why are we going to lose four in a week and a half?

-- We have better speed and defense.

-- The Red Sox aren't equipped to play at Coors. Manny in the cavernous left field? Ortiz at first base? Wakefield's knuckler isn't going to break in the thin air, and Dice-K will be thrown off by pitching at altitude. Let's not tell him about the humidor.

The one problem: the hitting. We have a .242 average in the postseason and we're going to need to turn it on against the Beantown Bombers. Hopefully, the pitching can continue the trend of damping the fuse against high-octane offenses, but the hitting is going to need to bring the sticks. But all year, and especially in October, they've found a way to get it done, however and whenever. National League Champion Rockies sounds surreal enough, but it's not the final stop for the Purple Express. I expect they'll drop the first one against Beckett (but then again, who knows?) then turn on the jets, rip off four, and win the damn thing at home in a game that Denver will always remember.

Rockies in five.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Colorado Rockies: 2007 National League Champions

It's downright crazy. I don't know that I believe it. My reaction was rather subdued; I must be dreaming. Matt Holliday getting hit by a pitch and turning into the Incredible Hulk the next at-bat, as he did tonight, crushing a monster three-run blast to make it 6-1 after Seth Smith had a pinch-hit, two-run double and Kaz had an RBI single. Of course, if I thought it was going to be easy from there, I was wrong. The shakes and the hyperventilating from when Bad Brian Fuentes reared his ugly head to allow a three-run homer to Chris Snyder in the eighth -- making it 6-4 -- are barely subsiding. Especially after that, Fuentes allows a triple, Manny Corpas comes in, strikes out Tony Clark, and for the top of the ninth -- groundout, double, popout (on 3-0) and groundout, from local goat Eric Byrnes, to punch the Rockies' ticket to their first World Series ever.

I need to not go broke on NL Champs gear. I love them all. I want to read everything about this magical night. I want four more wins and a parade through Denver. And no, I don't think this is too much. We just may be that team of destiny, and I've waited for this. And nothing will ever stop me from wishing passionately I was in Colorado, screw school and everything else. I yearn to be on 20th and Blake with all the other fans who love this team the way I do.



Let that one settle in for a while. I sure need to.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Come On. You Knew It.

So the Rockies, a few weeks ago, were one strike away from being eliminated in a game they weren't even playing in. Trevor Hoffman against Tony Gwynn, Jr. The son of arguably the most famous Padre ever delivered the tying triple, the Brewers went on to win, and since then, the purple power has bordered on the absolutely insane. And yet again, they proved it tonight. High-scoring offenses? Hitter's parks? Slugfest predictions? Phillies in 5? Screw 'em all. The Rockies won 2-1 tonight, on the back of an RBI triple from Kaz and a pinch-hit, tiebreaking RBI single from Jeff Baker (not to mention an absolutely stellar performance from Ubaldo Jimenez, in the game of his life) to sweep the Phillies and advance to a NLCS matchup with the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Say it. Believe it. The Colorado Rockies, with four more wins, will be the National League champions.

Wrap your mind around it. The morons at TBS, aside from openly shilling for the Phils the whole time, certainly couldn't.

Breathe that purple air. Dream in a violet haze. Love your team. Believe in them. I have to say, we're looking an awful lot like destiny right now.

A lot of things can change between now and the four days some idiot decided to allocate in between the NLDS and NLCS. The Wild Wild West is no longer the Worst, it is the Best. D-backs vs. Rox, an NL winner I can get behind in the Series either way. This is crazy. I can't describe what they're doing. It's amazing, and I love it.

And I don't want to hear anything about the Phillies choking this series away. They showed up to play and they got beaten by a better team. Give them credit, it actually does happen. The Rockies were the ones that managed to stay hot following their incredible late-season surge, and to jump through hoops to avoid giving them credit and insisting the Phillies beat themselves is just lame. The Rockies hit, pitched, and played defense, and that is how you win championships.

Rocktober, baby. Keep the faith.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Add Another Chapter to the Cinderella Story

This Colorado Rockies season has already progressed beyond believability for even the cheesiest, schmaltziest sports movie. Come on, they're the (possibly, depending on your proclivities and/or geographic orientation) lovable underdogs coming into the 2007 season, their only playoff appearance a distant 12-year-old memory in which they won exactly one game before being four-and-out to the eventual Series champion Braves. They were generally picked to finish last, and I gave them a five-game improvement to a break-even 81-81 mark. (In my preseason predictions, I also really, really underestimated Tulo. I am so sorry, Troy. Call me, and we'll get an arrangement worked out for me to bear your children. Wait, what? [whistles]).

Anyway, this year, they start off 18-27, making all the naysayers look pretty much dead accurate. Then, from May 22, they have the best record in baseball second only to those damn Yankees. They never lead the Wild Card all year and on the last day of the season they manage to scratch into a tie. They play a tiebreaker at home, go down 8-6 in the bottom of the 13th against the all-time saves leader, then win on a play at the plate that will likely go down in postseason lore as The Slide (as compared to Jeremy Giambi, which was The (Non) Slide). Then they win the wild card and meet a similarly hot team in the Phillies, who went 13-4 down the stretch to blow over the hollow-men Mets. Then they win the first two on the road in front of the notoriously (un)friendly Philly crowd, including getting a grand slam from their second baseman Matsui, who hit four homers all year and whose Major League total stands at a whopping 17. Now they go home to a Coors that will be on fire, sold out, and ready to cheer their boys onto their first-ever NLCS (knock on wood).

Let's not get ahead of ourselves, of course. 2-0 is great, but it's not 3-0. We're still nine innings away from the Pre-Pre-Promised Land (Championship) series, 36 innings away from the Pre-Promised Land (the NL pennant) and a further 36 innings away from the Promised Land (World Series victory). What the team has done in terms of bearing down and focusing on each game at a time, instead of trying to comprehend the fact that they've now won 16 of 17 to close the season and charge into the spot they're currently in, cannot be understated. This is a group of young guys playing with maturity and focus beyond their years, a group that finished .5 games behind the D-backs (if both teams can hang on to their respective 2-all edges, they'll be on target to collide in a Wild Wild West NLCS, probably the sports networks' worst nightmare) for the best record in the NL. A group led by a wily veteran (Helton) up-and-coming mashers who are finally getting the attention they deserve (Holliday, Hawpe, Atkins) and a true rookie superstar (Troy Tulowitzki) they are also a supreme example of class, grace, and dignity off the field.

Here's why: The Rockies voted, unanimously, to allocate a full playoff share to Amanda Coolbaugh, the pregnant widow of AA coach Mike, killed July 22 while coaching first base for the Drillers, their minor-league affiliate. This is made even more touching and heartbreaking by the fact that Coolbaugh only joined the organization a few weeks before he died, and only a few players personally knew him, yet they are stepping up to help out those he left behind. Amanda, aside from expecting her third child any day now, has two pre-school-aged sons; Joseph, 5, and Jacob, 3. You can imagine that an AA coach isn't making very much, and the players receive 60% of the gate take for each playoff game. If they go on to the World Series, this amount could be as much as $362,000. For comparison, Atkins makes $400,000 -- that's almost doubling his salary.

And yet this group of young players, without telling the media, without being prodded by management to repair their image, quietly chose to give it to someone who needed it more than they do. For comparison, the Rockies' payroll is $54.4 million, and 30% of that ($16.6 million) is going to Todd. A fair number of them are making the league minimum, and the second-highest-paid player after Helton is Holliday, who's making $4.4 million (the potential and deserving NL MVP, folks). It is so incredibly rare to hear about players voluntarily turning down more money and giving it to someone who doesn't have as much, in a time of great need, that it's just an amazingly classy gesture by a team of not just players, but friends, fellow community members, and men. These players directly passed on padding their own pockets like so many of their peers, and it shines a spotlight on the quality of the character in that clubhouse.

Contrast this to the main Broncos story, which features Travis Henry getting arrested again for marijuana possession and the revelation he has nine children by nine different women. (Wow, the football version of Elijah Dukes). The Rockies are not only winners, they are the epitome of humbleness, class, and selflessness. I could simply not be more proud of them (but I'm sure that if they kept moving up, it might be possible...) To judge from the comments on ESPN, the Rockies not only pulled off a miraculous late-season run, they are winning the hearts of America by reminding us that not all professional athletes are lowlife thugs. It is a refreshing and truly touching change. I salute them.

One other thing, in case you're having different ideas about where this altruism stems from: You may have heard a lot about the erroneous "Team Jesus" article that got published in USA Today, suggesting the Rockies only draft Christian players and that their clubhouse is some weird version of Bible camp, where Maxims, Playboys, and sexually explicit music are banned and they spend all their time praying and reading Scripture. I feel as if I have to refute this misperception at every turn, so here we go again: That article was a factually incorrect exaggeration based on the beliefs of the front office and a few of the players. And even those players (Cook, Helton, Holliday) aren't happy at all with that story and how they were portrayed.

Fact is, despite the great diversity of backgrounds and ethnic origins, there is no schism among the guys whatsoever; as Cook puts it, "I've never even seen a Bible out in the open in the clubhouse." And far from proselytizing every chance he gets, Holliday, who is religious, likes to keep it quiet and doesn't think it has to do with baseball. The guys in the clubhouse love each other and pull for each other hard. And we look for players with character as well as talent, just so we don't end up with Kyle Farnsworth-like @$$holes on the team (and if even that was so important, how did Jose Mesa end up here for one brief and deeply forgettable season?) Not necessarily religious. There are a few guys who are, as there are on any club, but it's by no means the "Team Jesus" that certain bloggers would have you believe. We're not sanctimonious holier-than-thou missionaries, we're a diverse blend of young guys having fun. Jason Hirsh, who is Jewish, was asked about the supposed Christianity bias in an interview with MLB Trade Rumors a while back, and said he hadn't noticed a thing, and had never played with a nicer and more welcoming group of guys. He was excited to be a Rockie, and this was well before our fairy tale run, so all the more power to him...

Anybody and everybody is welcome in the clubhouse, which is fantastically tight-knit and supportive of all comers. Not all the guys are Christians, and those that are are the best kind, of outreaching, supportive, genuinely nice and humble individuals instead of narrow-minded, vitriol-spewing bigots. Those that are religious are not unduly dragging it into the public eye. You should wikipedia the Rockies and read their response to the article, published in the Denver Post, and if you watched the Rockies Spotlight on Holliday, you'll see him roll his eyes and refer to the USA Today reporter as "that guy." This is not some sort of exclusive "good ol' boys" club.

Hopefully we got that straightened out; I'm tired of having to refute it at every turn. And no matter what started it, the gesture to a grieving widow was a fantastically classy, mature, and professional thing to do, and hopefully the boys can go out in front of a fanatically supportive home crowd and finish the job in three, moving on again with their fairytale season. Coolbaugh's two sons will be throwing out the first pitch -- how more Hollywood can you get?! -- and since Denver has gone deep purple with Rockies fever, it would be great to nail the thing down on the first crack. God, so nervous.

P.S. Colorado niceness has to go out the window. I want people above the 'pen razzing Jamie Moyer during his warmups, and I want Rollins to be as viciously treated as Holliday was in Philly. We're real baseball fans now, not just people going to a game to spend an evening, and it needs to be recognized. Besides, if we lose Game 3, Mark Redman is starting a potential Game 4, and the last thing we want is to send the series back to Philly tied and Cole Hamels on the hill for the clincher. Beating him once was great, but let's not count on having to do it again.


Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Purple Fever Believer

Jesus Fucking Tapdancing Christ on a Toaster.

It's 3 am and thank God I have no class tomorrow, because I doubt I can sleep. The adrenaline is kind of wearing off. Kind of. After waking up on the heels of 4 hours of sleep for morning class, feeling too apprehensive to eat anything except from a croissant in the morning and some chicken fingers and an apple in the evening. I went to class in the morning. I didn't eat lunch because I felt too sick with nerves. I almost passed out with exhaustion in my afternoon class, and my focus wandered badly as we finished up the last leg of 2 hours of psychology. Knowing I was going to need all the fortitude I could muster for the night's forthcoming tilt, I went home and slept for three hours or so, from 3:45 until 6:45. I woke up at dusk, feeling so nervous I could barely breathe, and added the Rockies jersey and hat to my shirt, necklace, and jacket. Then, scared but hopeful, I sallied forth to find my friend Nick and the TV he had promised to purloin for us. We chased off, or briefly assimilated, certain annoying Red Sox fans who wanted to hijack it to watch Monday Night Football (the Pats won again, of course, and who the fuck cares about them? This is my team fighting for October, people).

Game started. I was whooping, rooting, cheering, and cursing like a sailor. I was pleased as hell to see the two runs off Peavy in the first inning on a deep sac fly by Mr. Rockie Todd Helton and and an RBI single by Garrett, was stunned (but in a good way) when Yorvit actually hit a homer, and then felt like axe-chopping something when Dragon Slayer Josh Fogg lost his sword and gave up a grand slam to Adrian Gonzalez. Another run on a forceout made it 5-3, and with Peavy on the mound, you might think this was a problem.

It was not. Peavy was mortal. He yielded a solo shot to Helton in the fourth, and then a combination of ROY double/MVP single tied the game in the fifth. In the bottom of the sixth, pinch-hitter Seth Smith blasted a triple and scored on Kaz's sac fly; thanks to another defensive miscue by replacement Pods center fielder Brady Clark, Tulo hit the second triple of the inning, but failed to score when Holliday struck out. Every time he was up, however, the whole stadium was chanting, "M-V-P." It was amazing, chill-inducing, and insane.

In the bottom of the seventh, the umps blatantly missed a call on Atkins, ruling that his ball that went over the wall, hit a chair and bounced back, was a double instead of a homer. Poor Garrett has been fucked out of two homers this year, and yet again, the Rockies couldn't go for the jugular, sitting on a 6-5 advantage into the eighth. Brian Fuentes came in, admittedly got into a little trouble, and should have gotten out of the inning intact, but Holliday completely misplayed a Brian Giles fly ball and let it go over his head for a double. I slapped my hand to my face and moaned, as all the while the morons broadcasting the game on TBS salivated and continued to ride Padre jock hard enough to leave carpet burns. The Rockies couldn't come through in the eighth and Manny Corpas blew through a six-pitch ninth inning; that should have closed the game out in regulation, but since the umps had, of course, fucked poor Garrett out of his homer, it dragged on, and on, and on, close to five hours of a grueling emotional marathon. Matt Herges wriggled out of jams, the Rockies couldn't touch a ridiculous Padres 'pen, and when Jorge Julio came on for the thirteenth, I groaned aloud.

Sure enough, Julio bore out my bad feeling, walking the first hitter he faced before allowing a two-run homer to Scott Hairston, for the love of Christ. It made me sick to see the Padres whooping it up in the dugout, and I admit it, I could not bear to see the season ended on a such a bitter note, losing a winnable game in front of our raucous and screaming home crowd, silenced forever and left to wonder what could have been. I left the TV room and began the long walk back to my dorm, feeling brutally upset and bitter, broken, hollow, and empty. Basically like shit, in other words, cursing the umps for missing Atkins' homer, Matty for missing the flyball, and Jorge Julio for existing. I flung down my stuff on my bed and naturally turned on Gameday, just to see how it would end. Ramon Ortiz, of all people, came in and snuffed the rally in the top of the thirteenth, and then Trevor Hoffman, he of the all-time saves record, came in to try to put the finishing touches on a monstrously aggravating and heartbreaking loss.

He didn't. Kaz Matsui fought off tough pitches and ripped a double deep into the left-center field gap. Coors began to make some noise again, after being deadened by the Hairston homer. Then the Rookie of the Year came up and set the torch to them again with a matching blast, scoring Matsui as he rolled into second with a double. And then...

Matty had been somewhat of a scapegoat earlier in the night for blowing the flyball and striking out twice with runners in scoring position. With one swing, he sent Coors off the edge. I'm not kidding. I was watching this on Gameday, but I saw the video and... the noise the crowd makes when he lights into that ball is unbelievable. It and Brian Giles bang off the right-field scoreboard, the place is in pandemonium, Tulo scores to tie it, and Matty is safe at third with a triple. As you can imagine, my phone began ringing right now, and the first call I fielded was from Nick. He made no bones about it, "GET BACK HERE! NOW!"

Another friend called as I tore down the stairs, fumbling for my keys. I sprinted across campus back to the TV room, and I went belting up the stairs in time to see a mosh pit on the TV -- Jamey Carroll, placed in to pinch-run for Atkins after it was a "double," came through with a shallow liner to right field, Holliday charged home, dived face-first, swiped the plate with his hand as Barrett dropped the ball (dodgy call, but hey, it was karmic justice, the game should have been over in regulation) and came up bloodied and dirtied, probably feeling the best he had in his life, as his team, his city, and his mates went absofuckinglutely berserk. I screamed and threw myself on Nick. I shook. I launched myself across the room to hug his friend, who I don't even know that well. I shrieked at the top of my lungs. My legs would not support me, I fell down. A few people came up the stairs to ask if I was all right, since I was screaming bloody murder. Nick was like, "The Rockies made the playoffs, it's cool."

I screamed. I threw myself in Nick's arms again. I held on. I fell to my knees. I had earlier promised to freak out on an epic level if the Rockies won, and they did. The Holliday call was justice for screwing Atkins out of the game-winning HR, and holy shit. Holy. Fucking. Shit. I have no classes tomorrow, won't be in bed before 4 and may sleep all day, have homework to do that's not getting done as I live and die with my team, and I don't care. This is amazing. The Colorado Rockies are one of four NL entrants still standing with a run that defies explanation. We didn't even lead the NL wild card. We weren't tied until yesterday. And we beat the best pitcher in baseball and the all-time saves leader. I swear, you can't script this. Even Hollywood would reject it as too corny.

I don't care if Holliday supposedly didn't touch the plate. We won. He lay there dazed, Tulo flung himself over Matty, then jumped into the mosh pit. Fireworks went off. A town believed. A team fulfilled a destiny. 90-73 and a wild-card spot into the postseason and a first-round matchup with Philly. Two strong offenses, two suspect pitching staffs, the first stop on the way to immortality.

Jeff Francis vs. Cole Hamels. 3 ET Wednesday.

See you in October.

GO ROCKIES!!!!!!!!!!!

Monday, October 01, 2007


T-minus six hours, and I am a jumping, twitching, sick-with-nerves wreck. Can't eat, could barely sleep (I got about 4 hours, partly because of being too amped to lie down, and partly because some idiots with mowers decided 7:45 AM was the perfect time to do landscaping outside my window). Nervous as hell, already wearing my Rockies shirt, jacket, and necklace, with jersey and hat to be added at gametime. I'll be watching that with my friend Nick, and I'm pretty sure I'll have a coronary before it's over. I need to get off the Internet and stop reading about it; I know what it is, what is at stake, and I want it more than I've wanted anything, which is saying a lot. The Rockies are playing baseball in October but they need one more win, albeit off Jake Peavy with Josh Fogg up against him, in front of a sold-out, amped, raucous crowd that has the purple fever and just won't stop believin', to really play baseball in October. This is the third shot for the Padres, and the Rockies have been lawn-mowing everything in the way. Peavy may be pitching, but I think we still have the advantage.

I believe they will do it. I am dead set they will. That doesn't stop me from dying along the way.

GO ROCKIES!!!!!!!!!!