DENVER – The biggest baseball game in Colorado state history was staged, it turned out, to celebrate a phenomenal month of baseball.
Sadly for the folks wearing the plastic mountain ranges on their heads, for the people who spent the afternoon painting themselves to look like cans of grape Nehi, for everyone who realized only a few weeks ago that Denver still had a baseball team, that month appears to be over.
The National League had to send somebody in against the American League. As a National League team, the Colorado Rockies technically qualified.
As the Rockies, however, they've done very little to challenge, annoy or pitch with the Boston Red Sox, who as we speak are dipping their toes into the champagne bath.
It's a depressing development when Super Bowls become more competitive than World Series, but, here we are; two of the last three World Series have ended in sweeps, the other ended in five games, and this one is teetering on a four-and-out, the whole baseball-in-November thing not looking like it's going to be an issue.
Just the other day David Ortiz was saying a Game 3 win might take the Rockies out of the series, a three-games-to-none lead historically meaning death to every baseball organization but Ortiz's.
The question is, I suppose, do the Rockies have any Idiot in them?
Rockies starting pitchers have been awful twice, and their offense had been in no mood to bang with anybody before Matt Holliday hit the home run that gave the Rockies about 25 minutes of hope on a chilly Saturday night at Coors Field.
Clint Hurdle, their manager, was asked if he was familiar with the fates of the 22 previous teams that have lost the first three games in the World Series.
"I don't know the record," he said.
"OK," he said, perking up, "so it looks like we're in ground-breaking territory."
Yeah, something like that.
That's six wins in a row for the Red Sox, who rolled out of their own deathbed a week-and-a-half ago, ravaged the city of Cleveland and then went to work on the football town out west.
And Sunday night the Rockies will start Aaron Cook, who last threw a pitch to a real big-league hitter on Aug. 10.
Good guy, inspiring back story, starting to feel like Josh Fogg.
The Red Sox and Rockies have played about 11 hours of baseball over four days, and the Red Sox have scored 25 runs, the Rockies 7. The Red Sox are batting .352, the Rockies .222. The Rockies' ERA is 9. They got here because of pitching, and they're at 9.
Terry Francona, playing by the Rockies' home-field rules, benched one of his best hitters – Kevin Youkilis – in Game 3, started Ortiz at first base, and still got 10 runs. He didn't get a hit out of Manny Ramirez, and still got 10 runs. He watched his previously unflappable bullpen, well, flap, and still won by five runs.
The Rockies could have made a series of it in Boston, could have kept this whole team-of-destiny postseason going, but they got five hits in Game 2 and Holliday leaned the wrong way, and here they are, trying to eat the elephant a bite at a time.
"I mean, we need to go out and win Game 4," Hurdle said. "I don't think you need to overreact or under-react. You just show up, get ready to play and find a way to win Game 4."
It can be done. The Red Sox did it. When they were down, 3-0, to the New York Yankees three years ago, Francona's only move was to flip-flop No. 2 hitter Mark Bellhorn with No. 9 hitter Orlando Cabrera. The other thing he did was hand the ball to Lowe.
And maybe Ortiz was wrong. Maybe the Rockies still believe the way they did when they showed up in Boston this week, full of optimism and energy. Hell, the last time they lost three consecutive games, they won their next 11.
The Red Sox, however, aren't in the habit of losing games when a series could be clinched, and they're beginning to get that look again. Their eyes are lively. Their swings are crisp. And the breaks are still theirs, beginning with Holliday's baserunning, continuing through the eighth-inning fly ball Saturday night that fell just under right fielder Brad Hawpe's glove, initiating the Red Sox's three-run put-away rally.
"It feels good," Ramirez said, "but, you know, we've got to win four games."
Or, as Ramirez further illustrated, "We don't want to eat the cake first before your birthday."
Gotta wait for the party. The Rockies and their fans have had theirs. The next one will be for the Red Sox.