Monday, October 8, 2007

NLCS... ready, set, go

Not many people probably saw this coming. Last year, the Rockies and Diamondbacks finished tied for last place in the NL West, a combined 24 games out of the postseason. Now they're playing for the pennant, and apparently the only people who care are these guys. Not that there's much wrong with that -- as Chuck Klosterman wrote in Esquire, TV ratings really shouldn't matter. As a fan of baseball, though, it sure would be nice to see the Rockies get, say, the Golden State treatment. Why shouldn't they? The terms "scrappy," "underrated" and "Cinderella" apply as much to them as any team in sports. Remember the Indians from Major League (the movie)? Well, the Rockies' story is better. So much better, in fact, you couldn't actually get away with scripting it. Just this one line would make any movie producer balk:

The Colorado Rockies have won 17 of their last 18 games.

That's ridiculous. And magical, indeed.

The Diamondbacks, on the other hand, have "lucked" their way to 93 wins, the most in the National League. They just tore through the Cubs like the Cubs were, well, the Cubs. Another season ends in heartbreak for the North Siders, and yes, I feel bad for them. Management tries developing ace pitchers, it ends in spectacular failure; management tries buying players, it ends in -- if not quite so spectular -- failure again. I don't want to rub it in at all. But I will say just this: if they Cubs are going to commit to a strategy of aggressive spending, they need to do it smarter. $4.3 million a year for an average middle infielder? $17 million for a guy whose stats resemble (are slightly worse than) a guy making $395,000? $7 million for Jason Marquis, the definition of mediocre? I know the Cubs are desperate to win now, but this execution of strategy just isn't going to cut it. I feel sorry that Cubs fans have to endure this, I really do. I suspect we won't be seeing any In Jim Hendry We Trust websites anytime soon.

But I digress. The Diamondbacks aren't much good at getting on base, but all their guys have pop -- Chris Young, Stephen Drew, Justin Upton sure showed it in the Division Series -- and when you have Brandon Webb as your ace and a dominant bullpen, a few runs per game are sometimes all that's needed. They'll take on a team with much better hitters -- give me Tulowitzki, Holliday, Helton, Atkins and Hawpe any day -- and a bullpen just as good, and if the Rockies don't quite have a front-of-the-rotation ace of Webb's caliber, they have more starting pitching depth than the Diamondbacks, which should come into play in a long series.

When all's said and done, expect the Rockies to emerge victorious and head to their first World Series ever. I don't think I'm merely hopping onto the bandwagon with this prediction (plus, I had hopped onto the bandwagon weeks ago). Let's say, oh, Colorado wins in six.

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