Baseball Toaster Bad Altitude
Rockies 4, Diamondbacks 1
2007-10-15 10:48
by Mark T.R. Donohue

It would be unconscionable not to put up a post the morning after the Rockies moved one game away from their first pennant in franchise history, but what more can you say at this point? They won't lose. There's not a lot to analyze.

I've been to a few playoff games in my time, mostly Division Series games in Oakland and the fateful (though not by a long stretch the most fateful game in the series) Game 1 of the 2003 NLCS in Chicago. Going to Rockies' home games during the current run -- and remember, there's only been two games at Coors since the playoffs began a year and a half ago -- has been entirely unlike these experiences. What's it like to go to a playoff game where there's no tension whatsoever involved? I don't know if I can compare it to anything because I don't believe I've experienced anything comparable. The Cubs and A's games were almost unbearable; you watched through your fingers and you wobbled home like you'd just taken a good professional beating to the midsection. Coors Field last night was like... well, I was going to say the waiting room outside a hospital delivery room, because you know the baby's going to get born eventually and you're just kind of mildly uncomfortable but mostly anticipating the celebration, but I don't think that analogy works. There's going to be some tension involved there; what if the kid comes out with three eyes or a different skin color than the father? The Rockies were simply not losing last night.

It wasn't as loud as it could have been (or as it will be tonight) because it's hard to clap wearing mittens, but once again Denver fans were tested and found worthy. No way the game last night even starts if baseball hadn't long ago totally prostituted itself to television. It was unpleasant. With long underwear, two pairs of thick socks, a knit cap, heavy jacket, and sweatshirt, I went prepared. I was too preoccupied during the game to notice the mounting hypothermia, but when I finally returned to my apartment and removed all of my layers (all of which except the innermost of three T-shirts were completely saturated) to hit the shower, I started shivering uncontrollably. I don't have a lot of body fat, and I suspect my body temperature was probably several degrees less than a healthy living person's ought to be by the time Manny Corpas nonchalantly worked a 1-2-3 ninth.

Individual game details seem largely beside the point in the midst of a run that's only now beginning to register on a widespread basis as the once-in-a-lifetime freak occurrence that it is. Also, my $10 NLCS program is so completely waterlogged that I can only really make out the bottom half of the Rockies lineup on the scorecard -- that and that Arizona sure hit into a lot of double plays in the early innings.

I'm really disappointed the commenters didn't point out the moment in the game last night where Willy Taveras infuriated me. With none out and runners on first and second, Willy was attempting to bunt for a hit. How is that going to score the runner from second? Was anybody surprised when Willy's selfishness resulted in an out at third? Isn't this what I've been telling you about all year? Isn't it? Hmm. Might be time to just let the Willy thing go. I don't know if I can, though. He does really suck.

Not as much as Eric Boo-yrnes. Ever heard by leading by example, Byrnesy the Clown? I know whenever I think of a team's leader stepping up under pressure with the season on the line, I'll think of Byrnes from last night, whose at-bat results I can tell you right now off the top of my head without even a legible scorecard. Lined into double (nearly triple) play, struck out looking, popped up the chute, popped higher up the chute. Although I did not see it from my vantage point in the stands later on the highlights I caught him deliberately running into the wall on Matt Holliday's homer and theatrically sprawling out on the ground as if taking a UEFA-level dive was somehow going to spur his team on to greater feats of glory. Go home, Eric Byrnes. If I see you on TV during the World Series I'm calling my cable system to tell them to drop whichever network hired your worthless behind.

Who else saw this photo of Yorvit Torrealba and thought to themselves, "Wow, best desktop wallpaper ever"?

The white flag is waved by our new favorite out-of-town beat writer, the Arizona Republic's Nick Piecoro. Why do we like Piecoro? Well, his writing is pretty good, and he does a good job with the tough assignment of maintaining journalistic objectivity while still supporting his D-Backs loyally. This is a pretty evocative closing paragraph: "Having booed the outspoken Byrnes throughout the game, they seemed to delight in his popout that ended the eighth. As he made his way to his position, the fans in the left-field bleachers surely reminded him of his defiant comments. They also might have reminded him of the hole his team has dug itself, the one in which it might wind up buried." But mostly we like Piecoro because his picture is up on the page and he looks like D.J. Qualls.

You know who we don't like among local print columnists, or at least when he's not shouting at Jay Mariotti? Woody Paige. The other Denver sports opinion guys, Lincicome, Kiszla, Ringolsby, have struggled and been at best competent and open-minded during the current indescribable run. That's hard for them to do considering the talent vacuum in this region; I barely have any contacts at all in the "pro" baseball media and yet every one I do have seems to go out of their way to mention to me how much they freaking loathe Tracy Ringolsby every time I write them with a Rockies question. (I freaking loathe Tracy Ringolsby too. I think after the Monforts and Dan O'Dowd he's the person most responsible for how long it's taken Colorado baseball to matter, with his relentlessly uncritical attitude and Plaschke-like fear of new baseball ideas.) But while his peers have been mostly harmless this October -- not for a second worth your time, but at least not actively harming the cause -- this new Woody column is the sort of thing that angers the baseball gods. Win just one more game, Paige writes. Win one more game and the Rockies will have accomplished something!

My goodness, Woody. You're too old for drugs and still too healthily-colored to be in the early stages of senility, so what's the haps? Isn't the whole mantra the Rockies are riding on based on not assuming they've won anything until they've actually won? Aren't they not considering the larger importance of any game that they play until there aren't any left on the schedule? The Rockies are trying to win the World Series, not just get there. Indeed, I feel increasingly as if they have to win the Series, because otherwise the quality of this run will never be acknowledged by a lumpen majority of American sports fans. If the Rockies get to the big stage and lose to Boston or Cleveland, it will allow folks to write them off as merely the product of a historically poor National League. That's as may be, but... 20 out of 21? That's not competitive imbalance. That's just unreal. It means nothing if the Rockies make the World Series and don't win it. Woody should know better.

By the way, if you are hard up for further opinions from intelligent people from Denver on what living in the eye of the purple hurricane is like, I recommend Westword. The writers at Denver's free alternative weekly mostly don't have sports backgrounds but they've written cogently and humorously on a singular moment in city history. "Woody Paige" and "cogent," I know, is like "Clint Hurdle" and "Weaver-like in-game savvy."

I kid because I care! Come on, nothing I could possibly say is going to make any difference at this point. I've bagged on Clint and Willy all year long and the team keeps winning, mostly despite those two guys. I'm going to keep riding the horse I came in on, if you don't mind.

2007-10-15 11:54:33
1.   LoveDemAs
I wasn't keeping score at home last night, but it felt like Matsui (batting 2nd behind Taveras) led off darn near every inning he batted in. I think that's really all you need to know about Willy Taveras' performance last night.

I must admit, however, that the Game 2 catch Taveras made was pretty darn spectacular. I'm not sure why the defense was so mis-aligned on the play, but running that ball down from left-center was pretty amazing.

Props to the Rockies fans-- I didn't see a single empty seat on TV last night. Very impressive considering the weather.

2007-10-15 12:10:46
2.   Inside Baseball
Mark, just wanted to wish you and your team continued success. Hope they keep it going.
2007-10-15 12:40:32
3.   dzzrtRatt
Eric Byrnes has done the entire NL West a huge favor by making the Arizona Diamondbacks into a team baseball fans love to hate.

Dodger fans have been waiting for this for a long time.

2007-10-15 13:14:50
4.   yankz
"Go home, Eric Byrnes. If I see you on TV during the World Series I'm calling my cable system to tell them to drop whichever network hired your worthless behind."

Amen dude.

Unfortunately, MLB probably thinks Byrnes is a great ambassador for the game, and is saving the commercials he did with Dane Cook for the WS.

2007-10-15 13:41:17
5.   gpellamjr
Is watching the NLCS (and being excited in anticipation of it) a good excuse for not working on one's thesis?
2007-10-15 13:41:55
6.   Bob Timmermann
You're going to have stay up awfully late tonight though.
2007-10-15 13:56:53
7.   Daniel Zappala
I always liked this one for wallpaper:

2007-10-15 13:58:32
8.   Mark T.R. Donohue
5 I am no one to offer advice. I took incompletes in my undergraduate thesis seminars at Berkeley no less than three times.

When I finally finished one, it was about Curt Flood -- a popular Toaster research topic. I might have finished faster if Alex had published his book first.

2007-10-15 14:08:28
9.   gpellamjr
8 My first year in grad school I took an incomplete in an ancient history seminar. I turned the paper in a year later, and now yet a year later, the professor has not changed my grade. He will next time he's in the country, I'm sure.

I was really worried about how the professor would respond to my lateness in turning the paper in until one of his students told me that he (the professor) still has an incomplete on his transcript at U of Michigan. He got his PhD in 1971.

2007-10-15 14:13:47
10.   Bob Timmermann
Vin Scully is still working on his adoption papers for Eric Byrnes.

And he wants to see Byrnes's spec script for "The Office." (Line stolen from Jon.)

2007-10-15 14:29:47
11.   bhsportsguy
1 I have seen two different published stories about that play, yesterday, I saw one where Tulo positioned Tavares in left center because of how they planned to pitch Clark and then another where Hawkins (pitcher) was surprised that Tavares was not already in right center field.
2007-10-15 14:43:59
12.   Mark T.R. Donohue
11 This is another sign that it's just The Rockies' Year -- even when nobody knows what's going on, it works out for them.
2007-10-15 15:00:52
13.   kinbote
i have never rooted for a non-dodger baseball team as much as i'm rooting for the rockies right now. they remind me of a college baseball team with their style of play.

Comment status: comments have been closed. Baseball Toaster is now out of business.