Let's do a preamble first: There is no way this is going to scan coherently. I have so many thoughts right now I feel like all 50,000 people at Coors Field tonight came home in my brain. But the fact remains that nothing like this has ever happened before -- or will ever happen again -- and at some point in the next few hours, I am going to pass out from exhaustion, hypothermia, and/or overstimulation. It is possible I will not recover until the World Series begins, in March of 2009. It would be unfortunate were there to be no fresh posts on Bad Altitude for that whole time.
I understand that even though I ran all the way back from the parking lot to change a possible mistake I might have made in the text of the post from this afternoon, I neglected to proofread the headline, which was "NLCS Game 3" instead of "Game 4." You know what, that's fine. Better I make that mistake than accidentally take the tickets printed "Home Game 3" instead of "Home Game 2." I heard a fairy tale true story on the radio as I was driving to the game tonight about a family of four that went to the game Sunday only to realize at the gate they'd made that very mistake. Out of politeness's sake a ticket agent checked to see if any last-minute seats had become available, and... like magic, six were, as if out of nowhere. Stuff like this is happening all around metro Denver. I heard a goat with two heads was born out in Deer Trail.
I like to park really far away from Coors Field and walk the same route there every game. I was nervous that my parking spot would be taken away tonight, but I don't know why -- there is a logical limit on the number of people that can be parking in the area even when the game is sold out, and my pointedly inconvenient spot is farther away than anyone without a superstitious reason to do so would ever park. It wasn't until tonight that the ritual significance of my weird fixation struck me in full. It was when I walked over a little hill and saw the lights of Coors Field; I made a mental note of the intersection -- 27th and Blake.
In the places where baseball is most magical -- the Cactus League, Chicago, San Francisco, Boston, and a handful of other lucky cities -- the approach to the cathedrals where the games are played is something of a pilgrimage. You start walking from far away and as you draw closer to the park, streams and currents of other fans begin marching with you, and the next thing you know you're swept up in a wave of shared experience that sweeps you in through the gates and into your seat.
After years of absence, baseball as a presence has returned to Denver, Colorado, and it's terrible indeed -- as crazy as this city has gone in the past for their Broncos and their Avs, there remains still even among those whose activity as baseball fans has long been dormant a vague awareness that baseball has a greater significance. Football and hockey and basketball are marvelous but ever-changing and hardly recognizable from the forms they were played in even 25 years ago; baseball is more the same than ever. I don't know to what degree most of the fans at Coors Field tonight could articulate these concerns. I do know at several points during the contest this evening the crowd seemed for all the world to will the team to an NLCS sweep; no one had any interest in returning for another game Wednesday night, as wonderful an experience as every home playoff game has been so far. Rockies fans might not get all the details yet -- the rather crude group of enthusiastic but recent converts behind me couldn't stop talking about how Matt Herges had "done it for us all year" when Herges only threw 10 innings for Colorado before August 1st. But they do understand that the team is in the middle of something utterly unique and ineffable, something delicate -- were the Rockies to fail to take care of business on this night, the magic could be over like that. And that would be a shame, because on the whole I think it would be quite pleasant to win the World Series.
What's great about baseball, I always tell people, is that they play so many games that the wildly improbable happens rather often. No-hitters are unusual, but when we go more than a couple seasons without one, that's what's remarked upon as being really odd. Back-to-back-to-back-to-back homers shouldn't happen hardly at all, but we've had what in a relative sense is a rash of them lately. And of course the first remarkable thing the Rockies did in 2007, Troy Tulowitzki's unassisted triple play, looks pretty commonplace now -- I mean, Tulowitzki came this close to starting another one in Game 3 and that play might not even make the top ten of Tulo's defensive gems in this postseason.
But this thing now, this thing with the Rockies, I mean -- well, it's not like that at all. This hasn't happened ever before to any team or competitor in any sport. Colorado is on the hottest run a baseball team has ever been on -- at the time of the year when it's most difficult to win even a single game. Hardly any of their wins have been blowouts, and it was only fitting that Brian Fuentes (and a rare lack of focus by the Rockies' hitters, who were clearly looking forward to champagne showers while Juan Cruz and Brandon Lyon whiffed 9 of the last 13 of them) conspired to prevent this series from ending in one by allowing an eighth-inning home run. Manny Corpas had to work the tough, multi-inning save (the "Mariano Special") and the Diamondbacks (who deserve kudos for even staying on the field against a team that was not only on a once-in-a-lifetime run but was also flat-out better than them -- by a lot) put the tying run on in the ninth. That's how it is. These Rockies don't dominate. They just win. Every game.
We'll have lots and lots of time to break down last night's action, and the action ahead, and also to watch our children grow old, while waiting for the World Series to begin. My vision is beginning to go now as I haven't really properly slept or eaten in some hours and both my shoulders ache from my advanced twirl towel/pump broom cheer technique. As for now, well, I didn't name the site Bad Altitude, a top-secret Baseball Toaster focus group did, but it's mostly appropriate -- I'm a dour dude. It's my nature.
I'm happy now.
Update: A few posts ago I took what I thought in retrospect might have been a gratuitous shot at Tracy Ringolsby, what with all the general goodwill buzzing around all involved with the Rockies these days. Turns out for the first time ever I was almost a prophet. Indefensibly, this childish, petty man has elected to make his first published work after the greatest triumph in franchise history a raging, incoherent attack on a five-year-old book written by a baseball outsider. Tracy, you're embarrassing yourself. Make the Rockies celebration complete and retire effective at the end of these playoffs. Please.