Although the Colorado Rockies (and baseball for that matter) won me over in a very short matter to time, growing up in a town owned by John Elway it was all about football. I was six years old when Eric Young Sr. hit a home run in the first ever Rockies at bat in Denver. I was eight years old when Coors Field opened its turnstiles for the first time.
I was preparing to deploy to Iraq in 2007 when the Rockies went on a streak so hot that they were headlining national sports news for more reasons than a twenty-run ballgame. I remember all that, I also remember how in less than a week’s time all of that momentum was gone thanks to a dominating performance by the Boston Red Sox.
Until last Sunday night that 2007 World Series loss was the most miserable moment in my Colorado sports memory. Saying that, I realize I am also fortunate enough to have either not been born yet, or not remember any of the Broncos three Super Bowl losses in the late ’80s. I have always felt a bizarre sympathy for my dad and uncles who were lucky enough to see “The Drive” and “The Fumble,” only to have those be the best moments of the football season.
Personally I contend that the Rockies 2007 season was more of a heartbreak than any of the Broncos’ seasons between 1999-2012. As a matter of fact I would say Todd Helton‘s last home stand was more intriguing than all of those Broncos’ seasons except Tim Tebow‘s magical year (2011) and Peyton Manning‘s first season in Denver (2012). So that raises the question of which was worse: the end of the Rockies 2007 or the Broncos 2013-2014?
Although football purists would say that the sport has become less of a contact sport than baseball, we are still comparing apples to oranges. So let’s go with the following categories: expectation, adversity, and both quantity and quality of heartbreak.
The expectations of the 2007 Rockies were nonexistent. The team had finished under .500 and no better than fourth in the NL West for nine consecutive seasons. Troy Tulowitzki was a rookie, Todd Helton was two years removed from his last all-star appearance, and the Blake Street Bombers had diminished to just two members: each of Matt Holliday’s Biceps. The pitching staff was led by a 28-year-old Aaron Cook and a 26-year-old Jeff Francis. That is not a typo Cook and Francis were the team’s aces going into the postseason.
The Broncos’ expectations coming into the 2013 season were extremely high simply because how 2012 ended. That was the number one seed in the AFC losing in what was such a sudden way, with a play we all remember as Rahim Moore lostJacoby Jones against the Baltimore Ravens followed by overtime. The Broncos did come into the season with a downgraded defense, at least when you printed the roster on fax paper. Losing Elvis Dumervil to the aforementioned Ravens was the obvious blow. However the addition of Wes Welker, the health of Julius Thomas, and drafting of Montee Ball did nothing but bolster possibilities for Peyton. Oh yeah, and that Manning guy, he probably adds ten wins to any team’s expectations.
The Rockies made their own adversity, playing from behind from the start in 2007 going just 10-16 in April. They then barely made it up at the all-star break playing .500 baseball in the first half. Although the team was hot in July, a mediocre 15-14 August had the team in fourth place and six games back on September 1st.
Then history occurred, with seven series against divisional opponents the Rockies somehow caught lightning in a bottle and went 20-8 in September. That included 14 of the last 15 games with a one game playoff tacked onto the end against San Diego to claim a wild card playoff berth. I still like to think there is some of Matt Holiday’s chin buried under home plate for good luck.
The 2013 Broncos’ adversity was national news. Between All-Pro linebacker Von Miller‘s suspension then blown knee, all-pro offensive lineman Ryan Clady‘s foot, and John Fox‘s medical issues a team would be hard pressed to succeed in a year like that. Let’s not forget Wes Welker, Chris Harris Jr., and Champ Bailey, all missed time, and those are just injuries the casual fan might have been aware of.
The 2007 World Series was the most crushing event in Colorado sports since Super Bowl XXIV when Denver lost 55-10 to the San Fransisco 49ers. On the way to the Fall Classic the Rockies swept both the Philadelphia Phillies and the division rival Arizona Diamondbacks. Many would argue that the Rockies did too well, and while Boston was struggling in a seven game series against the Cleveland Indians, the Rockies would lose all the momentum that put them in such a favorable situation to begin with.
As for the World Series games themselves, two were routs by 12 and 5 runs, while the other two were one-run-games. In every other game the Rockies pitchers were either blown out of the park or bats suppressed just enough to come up short. The icing on the cake was that the deciding fourth game was in Denver.
As for Sunday’s Super Bowl loss for the Broncos, it is still too painful to relive and it did not take long to reach miserable levels. At least it was not the largest Super Bowl deficit ever, thanks to Joe Montana and Jerry Rice. Between that and not losing the game on home turf, Colorado sports fans should find some kind of comfort.
I am probably not in the proper emotional state to make a valid final decision as to which loss was harder on Colorado sports fans, but I will say that although I am too young to have seen such disappointment in a Broncos’ season, it has happened before.
Although the Rockies have conditioned fans to expect below-average play, they were as hot as any team in National League history before being knocked out so quickly, during what still is to date without a doubt the best season in Colorado Rockies history. It stands alone in the team’ short history.
What do you think, Rockies and Broncos fans?