HJ-ED-DHJHerald Journal Columns

October 22, 2007

They don’t have the cache, but Rockies are good for baseball

By Jesse Menden

Perhaps it is an indictment against me, but I could not name more than six players on the Colorado Rockies before they advanced to the National League championship series.

That is probably because I gave Britney Spears a better chance at getting her kids back than the Rockies making the playoffs.

Colorado was 6.5 games out of the Wild Card with just 15 games to go. They were two games out of that spot with two remaining. They had to come from two runs behind in the 13th inning of their 163rd game to get into the playoffs. And now, the Rockies have swept their way into the World Series.

Maybe I should have paid attention a little sooner. It might have been a little easier if not for those 9 p.m. start times. But that still interferes with my “Two and a Half Men” reruns.

The Rockies have given a Herculean effort over the past month. They have won 20 of their past 21 games; their lone loss was three weeks ago, Sept. 28, to Arizona.

During that streak, they had seven come-from-behind wins, and six wins coming in their last at bat.

By getting to the World Series, the Rockies are the fifth team to ever go from worst in their division to the finals in consecutive years (I bet you can name two of the other teams. Here’s a hint: the year was 1991).

It is a great story. But as impressive as all of that is, and as much as I hate to admit it, I would rather see a juggernaut in the World Series.

It would be more interesting to see a team like Los Angeles, Chicago, St. Louis, or Atlanta coming out of the National League. Those teams have rich history, and frankly, more is known about them. The quality of play might be the same, but the story lines of the teams and players make a seven-game series more interesting.

To be quite honest, seeing Rockies’ center fielder Willy Taveras hit a home run doesn’t quite have the same cache as Carlos Beltran hitting a bomb.

When I kick back, grab a Coke and watch the first game of the World Series, it will be interesting because the Rockies are a cute little club that can pitch and hit the ball a ton. But after that, I’m not sure how exciting it will be.

Unless Colorado has to play in a Rocky Mountain snowstorm, or hit with one hand tied behind their backs, my interest might wane as the series progresses.

Since very few people know anything about the Rockies, I’m positive many of the broadcasts will be spent getting to know the players. I can only hear so many anecdotes about the favorite American foods of Kaz Matsui.

Even though having Colorado as the National League representative is not good for the television ratings and overall interest, it is good for baseball in several ways. It reinforces the belief that any baseball club can go to the World Series in any year, no matter the situation.

Last season, the Rockies won just 76 games and were in last place. This year they are in the World Series. To take that a step further, the Rockies made the playoffs with the sixth-lowest payroll in the league. Colorado, along with teams like the Twins, are ingraining a new way to win in baseball.

The Rockies also got to the playoffs the same way the Twins did earlier this decade.

A bulk of Colorado’s roster is home grown. Just like the Twins, the Rockies have used the free agent market sparingly, and only to fill small holes. The people they have brought up through the system are the ones making the contributions.

I hope teams around the league take notice how teams are making it into the playoffs. Sure, it took an unbelievable run for the Rockies to get into the playoffs for just their second time, but now they are in the World Series.

As disinterested as I might be in Colorado throughout the World Series, it is good for fans and the organizations. I’m sure there will be some entertaining baseball, but it won’t be as interesting as a Yankees-Mets, or Angels-Dodgers series.