Every season starts with promise for all teams, and when it is over one stands as the champion, but sometimes there is an air of improbablilty to the accomplishment.
In no way does that imply that the champion is unworthy, just that the path taken to a title is different for every team, and sometimes the destination is reached in the strangest of ways.
Few paths ever have seemed as improbable as the one being traveled by the Colorado Rockies, who began a mid-September run that has seen them win 21 of 22 games in a streak that includes a playoff game against the San Diego Padres and postseason sweeps of the Philadelphia Phillies and Arizona Diamondbacks, the latter giving the franchise its first ever National League pennant.
The best and most recent comparison in Denver sports history is the Denver Broncos’ 1977 trip to Super Bowl XII.
The difference is that the Broncos had a great 12-2 regular season which saw them start off undefeated for the first month, so it was apparent early on the the Broncos were strong contenders, and they clinched their initial playoff berth with several weeks remaining, so that is quite unlike the Rockies’ experience.
However, until that time the Broncos had never had any foray into postseason competition, so there was a magical quality to the experience, and the entire city and extended community not only jumped aboard the bandqagon, but had to first construct a bandwagon!
Once built, people jumped aboard in record numbers — and while the Broncos began the team’s astonishing sellout streak (now in its 38th year) in 1970 — “Broncomania” did not really get its identity until that fabled 1977 championship season.
That was the first time it all seemed magical.
It has never been the same since then, and while the glow never leaves, neither does the spotlight that shines continuously on the franchise.
After 1977, the Broncos were anonymous no more, both nationally and in the Mile High City.
So too is it and will it ever be for the Colorado Rockies.
They no longer have a need to defend their plan, their program for success, as nothing speaks to that success and the devlopment of talented young players as the record itself.
So from here on more will be expected, as the Rockies have shed their cocoon, but their franchise has broader shoulders now, an infinitely greater capacity to carry the burdens of those expectations.
What should never be lost is the joy of the moment, the deserved revelry of the first National League pennant in Denver history.
Bronco players who were with the team in 1977 still carry that legacy today — “The M & M Connection” of quarterback Craig Morton and wide receiver Haven Moses will live forever in Bronco lore — and so too will the Rockies of today carry that mantle of success with them throughout their careers, and beyond.
Since that fabled campaign the Broncos have won five more American Football Conference championships and have ultimately appeared in more Super Bowls than any franchise other than the Dallas Cowboys, winning back-to-back world championships in 1997 and 1998, but I firmly agree with the suggestion that only that first Super Bowl win matches the Broncos’ first emergence on the national playoff stage in 1977.
No matter how many titles the Broncos win, 1977 will have a special place in the hearts of the fan and the city.
And the same will always be true for the Colorado Rockies.
The moment is now, but it lasts forever.