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Baseball historian says Rockies wild card berth falls into the "incredible" category


Posted: October 2, 2007



(Denver, Colo.) — Four innings after the end of regulation play last night at Coors Field, the Colorado Rockies reversed a two-run deficit to beat the San Diego Padres 9-8 and make the National League playoffs. It will go down in the books as baseball's longest one-game tiebreaker. "Of course it was incredible," says Thomas Altherr, a Metropolitan State College of Denver history professor and baseball historian. "Anyone who witnessed the last 15 games would say that. It ranks up there with the comeback teams.

"They had a tremendous streak of good luck for a very complex sport where so many random variables can happen. So many things went right for them and wrong for the San Diego Padres this week. It almost defied statistics. The charming thing about sports is sometimes statistics just don't matter. Baseball is filled with unexpected heroes."

The Rockies will open the playoffs at Philadelphia on Wednesday in their first postseason appearance since 1995 when the Blake Street Bombers lost to Atlanta in the first round. While going on the road can be an issue for some teams, Altherr sees other challenges for the Rockies. "Sports is filled with a lot of examples of teams expending emotion to get to one level and then they are wiped out. I'm not predicting that, but it's happened. Then again, two or three weeks ago who knew they'd get this far?"

Altherr makes no predictions for the five-game series against the Phillies, but he does offer some thoughts. "They (Philadelphia Phillies) have this odd history. In 1964, they were going into September leading the national league and had the historic meltdown. "September Swoon" by William C. Kashatus is a book about how they fell apart. Philly has the image of the city that never wins a big game. Let's hope there's a teeter-totter affect here. Rockies up, Phillies down."

Altherr is a noted baseball historian whose "Sports in North America," published in 1997, won the Choice magazine Outstanding Academic Book Award. "Safe by a Mile," co-authored with baseball sage Charlie Metro, was released
in 2002.

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About Metropolitan State College of Denver

Metro State is a fully-accredited, four-year institution, serving more than 21,000 students. It has the second-largest undergraduate enrollment in Colorado and is one of the largest four-year public colleges in the nation. Metro State enrolls the highest number of students of color among four-year colleges in the state. It boasts 60,000 alumni, 90 percent of whom stay in Colorado after graduation. Visit Metro State at www.mscd.edu.

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