AL teams impressed with Rockies
Colorado's red-hot roll to World Series hasn't gone unnoticed
CLEVELAND -- Josh Beckett is just waiting to take his turn again for Boston in Game 5 of the American League Championship Series on Thursday night at Jacobs Field, but he is like everyone else who has seen what's going on in Colorado.
"It's pretty exciting," Beckett said of the Rockies club he hopes to meet in the World Series. "I looked at that stadium last night. You know, I remember back about four years ago when I played in a game there, and it was sleeting and snowing, and I think there were about 1,100 people in the stands, and now that place is completely full."
Records show that the smallest Coors Field crowd Beckett would have seen as a visiting Marlins player earlier in his career would have been the 18,855 that witnessed him win on April 26, 2005, with gametime temperature of 60 degrees and 16-mph wind. But you get the point. It's a lot different these days around the Rockpile.
"I think it's great for that city," Beckett said, echoing the reaction of players in the ALCS who have seen or heard about the Rockies' remarkable run to the Fall Classic. "I have a couple buddies on that team, and I'm definitely happy for those guys. It's exciting for them to be able to reel off that many wins and get to where they're at."
The Rockies have won 21 of their last 22 games. They have swept both of their 2007 playoff series, beating the Phillies in three and the D-backs in four. They have done it with every facet of the game, posting one of the best team ERAs in postseason history, making big plays in the field, and coming up with the runs when they need them.
"Well, I can't understand it," Indians manager Eric Wedge said of the Wild Card Rockies' roll. "I don't think it's ever happened before, to my knowledge anyway, to have that type of streak late in the season and take it into the playoffs. It's almost freakish. But it's baseball, and if you respect the game, anything is possible.
"The game continues to amaze people, and you continue to see things in the field that you've never seen before, and that's why I think it's the greatest game in the world. What Colorado is doing -- congratulations to them, by the way -- and what they're doing, it's a tremendous accomplishment."
Many of the Indians players watched the clincher from the comforts of their clubhouse right after beating Boston in Game 3 of the ALCS. Some, like Grady Sizemore, said they were "just focused on Boston" and did not want to discuss the awaiting NL champs. Some seemed as impressed as everyone else and were happy to talk about them.
"They're on fire right now," Indians catcher Victor Martinez said. "They're doing what you need to do to win games, playing the right way. It's hard to win 21 out of 22. You've got to give credit to them."
Although some people might see the negative in having to wait nearly 10 full days for the World Series opener as Colorado will, Martinez said, "If I had to do it, I'd do it. I'd like to get that team out of the way."
Terry Francona is the manager of "that team" that Martinez would like to get out of the way right now. He said he has watched "a little bit" of the Rockies, but "not a lot. I watched some of the game, but it was late. I don't know how kids and managers stay awake."
Francona's Red Sox matched Cleveland for the best record in baseball this season, but no one has dominated quite like the Rockies have since they went on this tear way back on Sept. 16. He said it evokes personal memories of the days when he was managing the Phillies from 1997-2000, going to Coors Field as a visitor and seeing the energy surrounding a franchise that joined Major League Baseball in 1993.
"The run they've been on is phenomenal," Francona said. "They seem to be all over the field. Their defense is again, every time a ball is hit they're moving. And that place can get [crazy]. I remember back some time, the Blake Street Bombers and all that, and that area of downtown, it was so enthusiastic. It's kind of cool to see it happen again."
Mark Newman is enterprise editor for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.