This is a terrific team that’s stormed out of the thin air of Denver and into the even thinner national TV ratings they’re drawing from an audience that has no idea who the Colorado Rockies are.
It’s doubtful that any team has ever arrived at the World Series with less cachet and name recognition than the Rockies. Most of the team’s players couldn’t be more anonymous if they were in a witness protection program.
And it’s not like many fans are bothering to get acquainted. Those TV ratings for their NLCS romp over the equally unknown Arizona Diamondbacks?
Hockeyesque, folks. Hockeyesque.
Who are these guys?
Brad Hawpe? Is that a right fielder or a typo? Tulowitzki — that’s a tropical disease, right? Josh Fogg? Is he any relation to Phileas? Then there’s Yorvit Torrealba. I know Torrealba — that’s a resort in the Yucatan, or maybe Majorca, right? But Yorvit? Sounds like one of those designer Scandinavian vodkas that comes in a frosted bottle and costs $12 a shot. Even their manager, Clint Hurdle, is named after a piece of track equipment.
It is a shame, because the Rockies are on an amazing winning streak, a roll like nothing baseball has ever seen. And that’s part of their problem: until the last couple of weeks of the season, they weren’t even in the playoff picture.
By the time they went on their almighty tear down the stretch, winning 13 of their last 14 games to force a playoff for the NL wild card with the Padres, sports fans around the country had already moved on to football.
Besides, it was all taking place in the NL West, the games starting too late and the division too weak to make more than a ripple in the dreaded East Coast media.
They won the playoff and then seven straight playoff games, removing any sense of drama and competition from the NL playoffs, shrinking their audience even more.
They arrived too late and too quickly to pay grasp what they were doing, especially since for nearly six months before the middle of September, there wasn’t any reason for the country to pay attention to them. Their line-up was made up of kids — a gang of first- and second-year players too new to the business to know that what they hoped to do is impossible.
If these kids, who are so fresh and enthusiastic and devoid of braggadocio and bluster, were busting into the game in Boston or New York, they’d have been on the cover of Sports Illustrated by the All-Star break. We’d have hailed them as the new faces of a game, the standard-bearers for a new generation of stars who are taking over the game.
And that’s what they are — kids who are going do things that are going to make them rich and famous. But that’s in the future. This year, Troy Tulowitzki, Matt Holliday, Brad Hawpe, Josh Fogg and company were learning their trade and putting up their big numbers in Denver, where the game of choice is football.
And it’s not as if the Colorado franchise is wrapped in a mantle of heroic history and legend. It’s known for its mile-high home park, which is to ERAs what Denny’s Grand Slam breakfasts are to cholesterol levels. It’s not known for its great accomplishments in the regular season, much less the playoffs.
The Rockies have one player with a national reputation — Todd Helton. He’s also the team’s only player making more than the $4.4 million that Holliday, the National League batting champion and the best outfielder most fans don’t know much about, pulls down.
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NLCS: Diamondbacks vs. Rockies
Colorado wins series 4-0