For those refined gentlepeople who prefer the cerebral grace of baseball to the plebian savagery of football, October is the greatest of months. Will Leitch looks at each of the eight playoff combatants. Now up: The Colorado Rockies.
I was out drinking with Daulerio and Craggs last weekend, and the topic of Matthew Berry came up. (I think we were talking about Tucker Max or something, lord knows why.) I like Matthew Berry, I suppose, but I think his yuckity-yuck style just isn't pitched to my sensibilities. That is to say: I am a nerd. I'm more of an Eric Karabell guy. I prefer dorky facts presented mostly straight, dorkily. I'm not much of a party guy, I'm not all that much fun at all, really.
I'd drunk enough that night that I started thinking maybe you can divide all male sports fans into either the Berry camp or the Karabell camp. Craggs is a Karabell guy too. Daulerio, as you'd probably guess, isn't. Bill Simmons is a Berry guy. Rob Neyer is a Karabell guy. Stuart Scott is a Berry guy. John Clayton is a Karabell guy. You can make an argument that there's a third type of sports fan, the self-serious keeper of the moral center of sports, your Bob Costas, your Joe Buck, but I don't think those people exist outside of the world of sports media. I've never met anyone who truly believes in the soul of sports that doesn't actually work inside it. I'm talking about normal people. You're all Berrys, or you're all Karabells. (If you want to play the full Deadspin staffer game, Drew's a Berry, Dash is a Karabell, and so are Sussman and Kogod. If you dig into the past, Clay Travis was a Berry, and Rick Chandler was a Karabell.)
Those two paragraphs, probably more than a third of this "team preview," exist so that I can introduce my theory that the Rockies are the Eric Karabell of this postseason. (If you're wondering — and I'm sure you are! — the Angels and the Twins/Tigers are also Karabells, and everyone else: Berry.) They are a quiet, unassuming, just-the-facts team that does nothing spectacularly but does everything right. The rotation does not blow you away, the lineup does not blow you away, the bullpen does not blow you away. They are above average everywhere. We do not tend to value that. The typical let's match up these two teams head-to-head! previews that people put together will inevitably show the Rockies lacking. Someone will have better hitting. Someone will have better pitching. But few will have the steady combination of both. Those are the teams that often win, the ones that don't fluctuate wildly.
Of course, the teams that often win in the postseason are the ones that just get lucky and hot out of nowhere, which is why predicting outcomes don't make any sense, why it makes more sense to stay low-key and avoid bold proclamations. (More Karabell!) The Rockies are no longer a faith-based business, and all told, they probably never were (who knew USA Today had so much influence?) but they're still likable enough, in their affable, oh-here-we-are-out-here-in-the-Mountain-time-zone-don't-mind-us way. (You have to love that almost the entire team is homegrown.) The Rockies have been blessed by the magic humidor, the ball-sucking device that took away the team's identity but allowed them to play, and win, by the same rules the rest of us have to play with. If the Rockies make the World Series this season, they will be only the second National League team to reach the Series twice this decade (other than the Cardinals; the Phillies are going for this as well). No one would have expected this as recently as early September 2007. They're not in a pinball machine anymore. They play earthly ball now. Thank heavens.
My father was complaining to me the other day about the increasing probability that Matt Holliday is not going to be playing for the Cardinals next season. He was dismayed by the likelihood that he'll be at Fenway next year, or in the Bronx, or even in Anaheim. "He should love it here," he said. "It shouldn't be all about the money." As a well-behaved Midwestern boy from a military family, I am loathe to disagree with my father, but hey, Cardinals fans lamenting losing Holliday: Talk to the Rockies. If we lived in the perfect world of baseball finance that's never really existed, Holliday would be leading the Rockies' charge, not along for the ride in St. Louis. But then again, that'd be a little too flashy, methinks, a little too boldfaced name. That'd make the Rockies a Berry rather than a Karabell. I like the Rockies as a Karabell. I like Todd Helton and Huston Street and all those guys you never stay up to watch. I like these guys.
Oh, and by the way: May I be the latest to remind you that thanks to the plate that was never touched and the tag that was never made, the 2007 regular season never actually ended. Which is a relief. My fantasy team was terrible that year.