Rockies' road a sweet treat for all
Colorado's run unfathomable, especially given timeframe
DENVER -- Sleeping bats couldn't stop them.Since the Colorado Rockies embarked on this magic-carpet ride, they have twice won with only two runs, something they managed once in their first 148 games. Feeble pitching arms couldn't stop them. They have won allowing eight runs twice, and seven runs another time. The gauntlet of teams anxious to take them out in the National League West race couldn't stop them. Thirteen of the regular-season-ending 14 wins were over teams they had to run down in the tight NL Wild Card scramble. Even chunks of days off in a protracted postseason haven't been able to stop them. "I really thought the four days off between series might cool them a little, knock a little momentum out of them," Arizona first baseman Conor Jackson had said after Game 1 of the NLCS. "Obviously, I was wrong." To paraphrase the D-backs' own motto, can Anyone, Anywhere stop the Rockies? Quietly, gradually and oh-so-relentlessly, the Rockies are assembling one of the mythical chapters of American sports. Subtitle it, "From Fourth Place to Fable, in 27 Easy Days." After 19 wins in 20 games, after one defeat in 29 days, after becoming the first NL team in 31 years to open the postseason with five straight triumphs ... it's getting hard to obey one of the favorite sayings of the Colorado manager. Clint Hurdle likes to caution, "Respect everything. Be in awe of nothing." How can you not be awed by these Rockies? Not only are they on one of the great rides of history, but are traveling large at the most critical point. With rare exceptions, the great team streaks of American sports have unfolded in the hearts of seasons, not carried over into the unforgiving championship playoffs. This is the stuff of journeys that may be hard to explain to future generations. One of those, "Were you there, grandpa?" tales. Seldom do sports fans get to witness the inconceivable. The Rockies have scaled beyond logic, to smoke and mirrors. "Faith," Hurdle said, "is believing in things that you can't see, you can't touch. From a sporting mentality, there's certain things you just gotta believe in. Man, you just hold onto them. You keep fighting the fight, and you just keep showing up. "Our players have been so good at that." Anything else, and they might get whatever is baseball's version of stage fright. The game is nine innings. The perspective, by now, has grown so much bigger. "Nobody thinks about the last three weeks; everybody thinks about the one game ahead," said right-hander Josh Fogg, the next pitcher entrusted with keeping the magic carpet afloat in Sunday's Game 3. "[The other] team doesn't care if we've won 19 out of 20 or whatever it is. They're worried about beating us that day. We have to worry about going out and beating them that day." Nineteen of the last 20 gamedays, they have. In so doing, they have taken their place among the most storied streakers in American sports. The list across the continuum includes teams which went an extended period without blemish, which the Rockies of course have not. The longest skein couched within their run -- 11 straight -- wouldn't even scratch the surface of the longest winning streaks in baseball alone.
But they do get extra points for the when. As such, they definitely belong in the all-sports Hall of Flames: MLB: 26, the 1916 New York Giants' unbeaten streak, from Sept. 7 (4-1 over Brooklyn) through Sept. 30 (4-0 over Boston), interrupted after 12 straight wins by a 1-1 tie with the Pittsburgh Pirates on Sept. 18. Pro football: 21, the New England Patriots' winning streak, from Oct. 5, 2003 (38-30 over Tennessee), to Oct. 31, 2004 (34-20 to Pittsburgh). Pro basketball: 33, the Los Angeles Lakers' winning streak, from Nov. 5, 1971, to Jan. 7, 1972. Pro hockey: 17, the Pittsburgh Penguins' winning streak, from March 9 to April 10, 1993. (Most people rank this string ahead of the Philadelphia Flyers' 35-game unbeaten streak in 1979-80 because of the frequency of ties in the NHL of that era). NCAA basketball, men: 88, the UCLA Bruins' legendary winning streak, from Jan. 30, 1971, through a Jan. 19, 1974 loss to Notre Dame. NCAA basketball, women: 70, University of Connecticut's winning streak, 2001 to 2003. NCAA soccer, women: 103, North Carolina's winning streak, from Sept. 30, 1986 through Sept. 17, 1990. High school football: 151, De La Salle High School's (Concord, Ca.) decade-plus winning streak, 1992 to 2005. The road from unnoticed to legend is a very short one. Of their 20 games prior to the launch of this tear, the Rockies had lost nine. None of them want to step off this Rocky Road. "I can't imagine anyone taking the attitude of, 'It was fun while it lasted.' We played hard every night," said Colorado reliever Brian Fuentes, "and, fortunately, we've been good enough to win and move on. It's been that way for a while now." And it'll be a long while before people forget what they witnessed as September 2007 morphed into Rocktober.
Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.