Man, everything sets up too well. After the season just completed, it doesn't feel like the playoffs should be this... relaxing. What do you want to see happen in the first game of a playoff series on the road? Well, you hope your ace beats their ace (check), your bullpen holds down the other team's hitting stars (yep) and your hitting star does something decisive (Matt Holliday's solo homer made Manny Corpas's job a lot easier). Other than to say that, sorry, Chase Utley, but the Rockies have another lefty starter going tomorrow, I don't want to break down the series any more than that. I feel like the only thing I can do is damage.
So let's see what writers elsewhere have to say, why don't we? Sure, there is a disappointing number of writers out there -- professional baseball writers -- who don't know the names of any of the players on the Rockies and have picked the Phillies to win their series for no reason other than that to pick Colorado would force them to actually DO THEIR JOBS and learn those players' names. But there are some smart guys to whom none of what the Rockies have done in September and October comes as a surprise.
Phil Rogers, Chicago Tribune: "I think the last team to qualify for the playoffs is the strongest in the NL." Well, thanks. Now we're going to catch Chicago luck, and that's not what you want following your team around in October.
ESPN's Jayson Stark: "The Team That Never Loses." Kind of unwieldy for a T-shirt slogan, but it has its appeal.
(Our own) Cliff Corcoran, SI.com: "The Rockies are proof that... often what is thought of as good pitching is actually good defense. Outside of strikeouts, walks, home runs, and errors, it's often impossible to tell where to separate the two. The Rockies this season have done an excellent job of suppressing the last three outcomes on that list, and where they might lack in strikeouts, they compensate with great defense. Mix in a powerful offense, and it all adds up to a team with a 1-0 lead in the NLDS." Powerful? Really? I might choose a more judicious, measured word like "functional" or "acceptable."
Christina Kahrl, Baseball Prospectus: "The Phillies will win it five when Hamels beats the Rockies a second time." It's always good to be going against the stathead grain because as we all know, that sh-- don't work in the playoffs. And there's a good example in the BP piece of why teams should never fire their entire pro scouting staffs and just subscribe to BP's premium service: "One of their most important supporting players, Brad Hawpe, is really a platoon player without value against lefties," Kahrl writes. Anybody who has been watching the games down the stretch knows that one of the single biggest things that got the ball rolling on the Rockies' win streak and playoff run was Hawpe's sudden mastery of southpaws. (Full disclosure: Hawpe was 0-for-4 today.)
This one is either a breath of fresh air or chilling to the bone, depending on for how long you've been following Colorado baseball: according to the Denver Post, the Rockies will raise their payroll by a "significant" degree in 2008. All that's mentioned in the text of the article is the cost of extending current roster talent like Matt Holliday, Brian Fuentes, and Garrett Atkins, but it's never too early to start worrying about ownership making a dramatic misassessment of the franchise's overall position and investing hundreds of millions of dollars in ruinous free agent signings. Well, it did happen that one time. Read between the lines here and you'll get a raging clue that Kaz Matsui, Jeremy Affeldt, and Josh Fogg will not be Rockies next season.