Do Red Sox fans remember who they beat in the World Series last year? That may be beside the point, but I'm inclined to acknowledge the holy center of the baseball universe before I present a story about the official 2007 sacrifice.
Okay, stay with me now.
The Colorado Rockies, the team from a dusty old cow town called Denver, won 21 of 22 games last year. 14 of 15 to make the playoffs and two consecutive sweeps therein. Yes we recall, it was one of the greatest runs in sports history.
Certainly you have forgotten the names of the players or perhaps dismissed their numbers off hand as "Coors Inflated". I dare to say that before we put to bed one of the most miraculous achievements in sports history and label the tombstone "fluke", we take a gander yonder those Rocky Mountains.
In 2007, the Rockies began the first quarter of the season 18-27. In 2008, the Rockies far beyond the quarter pole entered early June 20-38 and more than ten games off first place. Blown saves, poor clutch-hitting, generally anemic offense and sub-par starting pitching define both slumps.
We know what happened in 2007. The team that finished the season 70-45 was a complete club that put fourth the most potent N.L. line-up, consistent "quality start" pitching and a stifling bull-pen.
I dare say that the 2008 version, a team that is closing in on 6 straight series' wins heading into Sunday is going to be better and by doing so will once again etch their names into the illustrious annals of baseball history. For no team has made the playoffs 18 games below .500.
My rationale? A healthy Aaron Cook, a full season of an ever-improving Ubaldo Jimenez, the trio of Ian Stewart, Jeff Baker and Clint Barmes at second base , the emergence Taylor Bucholz as a dominant set-up man and the blossoming of Chris Ianetta as legitimate offensive force at catcher.
Know what's scary? Up and down the line-up, every single player outside of Ianetta and Bakeris hitting below their career OPS, average and slugging. You have Troy Tulowitzki still well under the mendoza line and every middle-of the line-up bopper yet to truly heat up.
This is eerily similar to 2007, when Colorado's offense exploded from June on. Colorado has endured trips to the disabled list to Hawpe, Holliday, Tulo, and Barmes. They have endured some of the worst clutch-hitting in baseball heading into June (.230 with R.I.(S)P.). They have survived yet another mis-conceived experiment at second base (Jayson Nix), the worst two month stretch for Jeff Francis, the over-exposure of star prospects Manny Corpas and Franklin Morales. In a decrepit N.L. West they are 7 games out.
Before the Rockies (scape)-goats are yielded as trade fodder for those whom we will not speak of any longer, I suggest you write it down, put it in a book, take a picture, whatever....