The original Oktoberfest in 1810 celebrated the marriage of Crown Prince Ludwig and Princess Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen and featured a big horse race. This year, baseball's Oktoberfest celebrates the eight teams that were skilled enough to keep playing deep into October and, if they're lucky, finish the year with a trophy, a platter of sausages, and an imperial pint of Hofbräu. Next up, the Colorado Rockies, as penned by Drew "There's a National League Now?" Fairservice.
Can you believe it??? It is Rocktober all over again! Or, if you've spent a lifetime ingesting oxygen-deprived Rocky Mountain air, Rock-Two-Ber. "How on Earth did this happen?", you might ask. The answer: just as it did in 2007. The Rocks stumbled out of the gate in 2009 only to make a delirious* run to postseason with a crazy second half.
For the most part the cast of characters is the same. Minus the manager, of course! The Rox cut that dead weight lose early on, allowing bench coach Jim Tracy to take over and Woody Paige to make this ridiculous pun:
And Jim Tracy should be recognized as the manager of the year for what he did getting the Rox past this first hurdle. (Whoops.)
Whoops indeed Woody. The Rockies decision to trade franchise cornerstone Matt Holliday "paid off" in that the team was still successful despite giving up a fantastic and productive player in exchange for a fly-catching pinch runner and new-found closer Huston Street, who did provide an excellent campaign.
The Rockies are in fine shape for the post season thanks to their strong rotation full of worm-burning machines and plethora of talented outfielders. They have a deep bench with veteran leadership and a patient, balanced offense. They draw more walks than anyone in the NL and knock the ball out of the park with frequency.
They also feature one of the games true stars: Troy Tulowitzki. I have very mixed emotions about Tulo. On one hand, he's a dynamic player on the diamond, coupling excellent defense at a crucial position with tons of power, patience and even a bit of speed. On the other hand, there's an excellent chance he's a detestable douchebag. I can't say for sure, but he puts out way too much white hat vibe for me to give him a free pass. Tulowitzki's overwhelming talent on the field will win out and you will find yourself cheering him on in spite of yourself in no time.
In the end, the Rockies are a scary team if you're anyone else in the National League. They have a legit ace, they can score, and they have the distinct advantage of staging their home games on Hoth. They're already battle tested after playing 3 huge series against the Giants in September. In a word; they're good. If the Rockies again reach the World Series, their American League opposition shouldn't expect a walk over like the Red Sox had in 2007.**
* - delirium is actively discouraged in the Rockies dressing room. "Spin around in a circle until you fall down" is not an acceptable answer to "WWJD?"
** - Just kidding! They'll get killed all the same.