The Battle for Gove, Kansas Begins!
I have to admit that I've been rooting against the Rockies all season, and will perhaps continue to do so for the next few years. Mainly, this is not so much because of the team itself (although I do find the humidor a much greater affront to the game than anything involving PEDs), but because of the way they were covered down the stretch and through the post-season in 2007, when it was all moxie and leadership and prayer and guts and grit and hope and guys having fun and never saying die and all the rest of it that led them to glory.
Of course, given that the Colorado roster is radically different from last season's miracle makers is essentially identical, we can only assume that all the players involved suffered major personality changes in the last six months. If we're going to live in bizarro world, we might as well fully embrace it and impose some internal logic to it; so it would only be fair for the Brennamens of the world to start taking Holliday and Francis and whomever else to task for not being the leaders who willed the team to victory that they were in 2007. This is what happen when post-season baseball lands up in the hands of Fox, TBS and ESPN. Maybe it's the curse of Jamey Carroll...
Do the Rockies have a natural interleague rival designated? I suppose, if you factor in Denver's westward-looking self-presentation and general cultural connections, you would think that Seattle might be a good fit, or possibly, I guess, Oakland (as a proxy for San Fransisco). The Rangers, also, aren't actually that far from Rockies country, and are already battling with them over New Mexico (along with residual powers like the Dodgers), but I think that above all else the Royals are actually the best idea here. I've touched on the Battle for Gove before, but while most people in the United States probably don't realize it, Colorado actually borders Nebraska and Kansas, as opposed to rising freely out of incontiguous space and possessing the Rocky Mountains apart from the rest of the continent. As noted today in the fanshots, the western front of the Royals Radio Network is at stake, as the Royals have already lost cities in Kansas and Nebraska to the purple plague. Can Garden City be far behind?
Still, despite a legitimate geographical proximity (of a fashion) and a healthy rivalry in football, the Rockies and Royals don't play each other regularly and have never played a home and home since interleague play began. As far as I can tell, the 2008 contests will be the first time these two squads have even played in consecutive seasons. (Last year, the Royals won two of three, in 2005, the Rockies swept the KCers.) Instead, the Royals play the Rockies every other season, for three games. With both teams among the most openly devout (from players to leadership) in the game, perhaps it is only Bud Selig's long, bitter, memories of the seventeenth-century religious wars of Europe that has prevented more Rockies-Royals action. As you will recall, Selig served under Johann Tserclaes during the Thirty Years War. For once, we may have to acknowledge the man's wisdom.
Tonight, our own Christian soldier Brian Bannister (4.81 ERA) takes the ball against Jeff Francis (5.22 ERA), in what may be the wimpiest pitching matchup of all time.
The citizens of Gove, Goodland and Garden City Kansas will certainly be watching.