Ah, yes, I remember now: that’s what it feels like to lose. It had been so long since the Rockies had dropped even one game – much less two in a row – I had forgotten the word for that queasy, tingling sensation that surfaces up from the top of the stomach and settles around the midsection of the chest.
Disappointment, we meet again.
Yet as soon as I consider waving the white flag, allowing my body to surrender to the advancing cavalry of despair, my brain launches an air attack of rationalizations on the sludge in my tummy. The nine-day layoff proved Newton’s theory of inertia. The Red Sox lineup rivals the 2001 Colorado Avalanche for the number of the future Hall of Famers wearing the same jersey. And finally, the secret weapon, flown in by boys too young to comprehend the devastating finality of the excuse they were about to unleash: At least we’re actually in the World Series.
And with that, it’s over. It might be an uneasy armistice, one that’s marked with “what ifs,” and “how could we's.” But the disappointment has been replaced by incredulousness: This is the Colorado Rockies we’re talking about. Two months ago, I, along with 298 million other Americans, simply would not have believed the Rockies would be in a position to play in, much less lose the World Series. We could be blown out by the largest margin ever in the Fall Classic and still claim moral victory.
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Then there’s the 21 of 22 streak. If another team ever goes on a winning streak like that (and based on averages, it might happen twice more during our lifetimes) their squad will be referred to as having “pulled a Rockies,” and sports fans will nod their heads in remembrance of our 2007 season. And, of course, all those hard-fought victories were won with our playoff hopes, then World Series aspirations on the line.
Suddenly, by reminiscing on all the surreal, timeless moments over the past month, a new sensation begins to trickle down from my brain like Reaganomics: Optimism. Due to the DH rule, the Red Sox will have to sit one of their best hitters in Colorado, either David Ortiz, Kevin Youkilis, or Mike Lowell. The altitude factor – constantly and comically hammered by sea-levelers anytime a team plays in Denver – may get into the Sox' heads, as they believe every swing of the bat can lift the ball all the way to Wyoming. And, of course, there’s the already proven unflappability of our roster: If the Rockies can rally from 2 runs down in extra innings against the greatest closer of all-time, surely we can win four of the next six games.
Now I’m feeling calm, even tranquil. A Patton-esque general steps to the forefront of my consciousness, addressing the nervous soldiers of my blood stream, all acutely aware that, in an 0-2 hole, the Rox are competing against a team with several of the most celebrated players in recent baseball history. The odds are nearly insurmountable. “Hold the line, boys,” the General bellows. “We’ve got them right where we want them.” -- Mark Schiff