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DENVER -- Rockies manager Clint Hurdle jogged off the field Monday night, admiring the "Go Rockies!" towels and brooms waving in the background when he spotted an old teammate out of the corner of his eye.
Hurdle redirected his path to the clubhouse celebration of the Rockies first World Series berth, and gave his old teammate, Royals great George Brett, a hug.
"Who'd a thunk it?" Hurdle shouted to Brett over the 50,213 screaming fans who remained in their seats nearly 30 minutes after Eric Byrnes grounded out to give the Rockies a 6-4 victory and series sweep that set off a Mile High celebration 15 years in the waiting.
Who'd a thunk these Rockies -- who dropped two-out-of-three to Brett's old club in mid-May, who were 18-27 and in last place May 21 and who sat 4 1/2 games back in the National League Wild Card after their third straight loss Sept. 15 -- would win an unthinkable 21 out of 22 and sweep and streak their way to the World Series?
Well, Hurdle maybe.
"Clint and I have been together all the way back to his first managerial job in 1988 and coming here five years ago, we weren't very good and they said we would struggle. And he said, 'Just stay aboard. Just stay aboard. It's going to get better. It's fixing to get better,'" Rockies pitching coach Bob Apodaca said as he stood away from the champagne spraying with his arm around his wife, Deborah, with tears in his eyes.
"He said we're going to be something to be reckoned with this year, and he's a man of his word and that's why I'm here. And darn it if he wasn't prophetic. He's a man of his word."
And now the Rockies are a team of destiny -- at least it seems that way.
This is fairy-tale, you-can't-make-it-up-any-better stuff.
Take Hurdle, who made it to his first World Series in 1980 with the Royals as a 23-year-old, what he thought was the first of many more to come. It took 27 years, but he's finally going back after five straight losing seasons as the Rockies manager.
Take first baseman Todd Helton, who put up Hall of Fame numbers for 10 seasons that went relatively unnoticed beyond Colorado. This season, his 11th, as he reached milestone after milestone, he finally has reached where he wanted to go all along.
"I don't have too many other skills," Helton said. "So I'm very grateful of them for letting me play in this league. I don't deserve any of this."
Take Rockies 37-year-old reliever Matt Herges, who didn't even know if he'd pitch in the Major Leagues this season. Nobody wanted him after he struggled last season with the Marlins. But the Rockies gave Herges a Minor League contract, and in the NLCS he threw five shutout innings, including two in Monday night's series clincher.
"Just to think I was sitting by a heater in the Colorado Springs bullpen freezing four months ago," Herges said. "And now, I'm going to the World Series."
Go up and down the roster. The stories are all there. But the Rockies weren't about telling stories Monday night. They were about celebrating.
After a trophy presentation on the field and lots of hugs and high-fives, they headed to the clubhouse, where 1,200 cans of Coors Light and 60 bottles of Domaine St. Michelle champagne awaited them, their third such celebration in 15 days.
"They're getting better," Game 3 starter Josh Fogg said as outfielder Cory Sullivan poured a Coors Light over his head. "My eyes are starting to hurt more, but the further you go, the more fun you have."
No one has had more fun than the Rockies, who through all the winning have barely had a chance to catch their breath.
"I have a sad feeling I'm going to wake up tomorrow and this has gone so fast, I'm not going to remember enough," right fielder Brad Hawpe said. "This kind of situation you don't want to forget anything that's happening, and you want to soak it all in."
The Rockies now have eight days to soak it all in before their fairy-tale run continues in the World Series.
Who'd a thunk it?