Best of 2007: Rockies Win the Right Way

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Best of 2007: Rockies Win the Right Way
Clint Hurdle spoke of growth as the Rockies finished Spring Training.

The manager believed that a tumultuous end to the 2006 season had instilled much-needed character in his young team.

"We feel like we are on the verge of something meaningful here in Colorado Rockies baseball," Hurdle said at the beginning of the year.

Whether it was blind optimism or incredible foresight, Hurdle was right. The Rockies ultimately gave their fans the most improbable World Series run in baseball history. 

Baseball purists often speak of "playing the game the right way," and no team did so more than the 2007 Rockies.  Behind a pitching staff without a No. 1 starter—and maybe thanks to the Humidor—the Rockies kept the ball in the ballpark.  That gave the defense a chance to make plays in record fashion.

The Rockies committed only 68 errors  to break the MLB record for fielding percentage.  This from a team that only two seasons ago committed 118 errors and lost 97 games.

Colorado also assembled a balanced offensive mix of speed and power that led the league in hits and batting average. But the 2007 season is best encapsulated by the Rocks' performance in their 163rd game.

After winning 13 of their final 14 contests, the Rockies faced the San Diego Padres and Cy Young front-runner Jake Peavy in a one-game playoff.  The teams battled to a 6-6 tie until the top of the 13th inning, when San Diego's Scott Hairston hit a two-tun homer off Jorge Julio. 

Against one of the game's greatest closers in Trevor Hoffman, the Rockies seemed to be facing an uphill battle in the bottom of the inning.  However, Hoffman looked almost pedestrian in giving up three consecutive hits.

After Matt Holiday tripled to tie the game and Todd Helton was intentionally walked, Jamey Carroll strolled to the plate.  Carroll flew out to right and Holliday raced home just ahead of Brian Giles' throw, bringing a 12-year playoff drought to an end.

Propelled by the momentum of the last two weeks of the season, the Rockies swept the Phillies and Diamondbacks en route to the franchise's first World Series appearance.  But the Rockies' success would be their downfall.  Coming off an eight-day layoff, the team seemed ill-prepared to deal with the Red Sox, and were swept themselves. 

Although the season ended on a sour note, the future looks bright in Colorado.  Baseball America named the Rocks Organization of the Year.  Matt Holliday emerged as an MVP candidate, and a solid nucleus has now cut its teeth at the big league level.

In a season in which baseball's most hallowed record fell under a cloud of suspicion and we learned that F.P. Santangelo was a juicer, it's nice to know that some teams can still do it the right way.

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