Prior to mid-September, the two most incredible things we’ve seen in modern baseball were the 20-game winning streak put together by the 2002 A’s and the epic AL Championship Series comeback put together by the 2004 Boston Red Sox.
For one thing, they were team accomplishments and, therefore, very difficult to dismiss as products of the game’s Chemistry Era. And they featured different levels of sustained excellence, the A’s doing it over three weeks of walkoffs, the Red Sox doing it under the crushing weight of playoff pressure, the New York Yankees’ mystique and Boston’s own miserable history.
But now, we have a threesome. No matter what happens in the World Series — which feels like it’s going to start in, oh, late December or so — Colorado’s cruise to the Fall/Winter Classic will forever be fondly remembered among historians and casual fans alike as That Ridiculous Rockies Run of 2007.
It started with the team, an afterthought in the riveting playoff chases being played out throughout the big leagues. Only an 11-game winning streak grabbed our attention. And even then the reaction was mostly, “Hey, these guys might be onto something with all those youngsters — next year.”
Then came a loss, in the third-to-last game of the regular season, and it was, “Helluva run. Who you got in the NLCS? Cubs-Mets?”
But then came two must-win victories over the NL West champion Arizona Diamondbacks. And thanks to a gag job in Milwaukee on the final weekend by the San Diego Padres that was obscured only because the New York Mets gagged even harder, then came the mother of all must-wins.
That three-run rally in the bottom of the 13th inning of Game 163, against all-time saves leader Trevor Hoffman, was nothing short of jaw-dropping, head-slapping, arm-of-the-poor-guy-next-to-you-in-the-airport-bar-punching magic.
And save your “Matt Holliday never touched the plate” grousing. The ump should have ruled Holliday safe solely on the grounds of the rain-making lollipop throw from right field. Johnny Damon makes that play, for god sake.
So the Rox were in the playoffs as the wild card, but they weren’t just happy to be there. They deserved to be there, and they proved it without a doubt by sweeping the favored Philadelphia Phillies and D’backs to earn the franchise’s first World Series berth.
They’ve won 10 in a row. Again.
Some they’ve won with speed and small ball, some they’ve won with power, some they’ve won with defense, some they’ve won with pitching.
And if they haven’t yet won your heart, you’re either a fan of the Red Sox or the Cleveland Indians, or you’re not a baseball fan at all.
Mychael Urban is the author of “Aces: The Last Season On The Mound With The Oakland A’s Big Three — Tim Hudson, Mark Mulder and Barry Zito” and a writer for MLB.com. He also hosts the weekend edition of “Sportsphone 680” on KNBR (680 AM).