Two and a half weeks ago, the Colorado Rockies got spanked by the lowly Florida Marlins, 10-2, on their own home field, for the Rockies' third consecutive loss. They dropped to 76-72 on the season, and sat in fourth place in the National League West, six and a half games behind the first-place Diamondbacks, and were four and a half back of the Wild Card-leading San Diego Padres. At that moment, the odds of their reaching the playoffs had to be higher than Dave Matthews' hairline.
Although I follow the Rockies, I wasn't really disappointed by their status. My preseason prediction was that the team would win 80 games, and I was excited by the proposition that the team might actually have its first winning season since 2000.
Ever since that date, the Rockies have been living a charmed life. They have played 17 games since then, and won 16 of them. I have watched many of these games, and I have never allowed myself to believe the Rockies would actually win any of them until the final out was recorded and the scores were sent off to ESPN. I never expected them to win more than my predicted 80 wins until they won Game No. 81. It never even occurred to me that they might make the playoffs until Yorvit Torrealba hit a home run to put them up 3-0 against the Padres in the 163rd game of the season, the Wild Card playoff game. My attitude all along has been to expect the worst, and be pleasantly suprised when something better than that happens. I am, after all, from Chicago.
Now the Rockies have won the first two games of the National League Division Series, on the road in Philadelphia, and they come home to Denver needing to win just one out of two games here to advance to the League Championship Series. And for the first time all season, I find myself expecting the Rockies to succeed; for the first time all season, I will be disappointed if they fail.
I have heard Yankees fans talking about how if their team doesn't succeed in the postseason -- meaning at least a trip to the World Series, if not a World Championship -- the season will have been meaningless. This is reason No. 32,716 not to be a Yankee fan, as if you needed any others. It has been very pleasant rooting for a team without any pressure, without being unduly bothered by the losses, letting each victory come as a pleasure. I think I like that better than expecting the team to win -- but what can you do? Eventually you have to admit to yourself that they're pretty good.