Friday, October 19, 2007

Rockies To Take On Steelers This Sunday

Monday night, the Colorado Rockies completed a sweep over the Arizona Diamondbacks to advance to their first World Series. Their layoff will reach nine days before opening the Fall Classic, so there is concern that the red-hot Rockies could lose their momentum before taking on the Red Sox or Indians. However, manager Clint Hurdle has devised a way to keep his club fresh in the meantime. The Rockies will step in for the Denver Broncos and take on the Pittsburgh Steelers Sunday night.

The Steelers were already planning to go to Denver this weekend, so their travel plans will not change. However, while they prepared for the Broncos, the Rockies are a completely different animal. Both Denver teams won on September 16. Subsequently, the Rocks are 20-1, while the Broncos are 0-3. Colorado has dominated in Coors Field and Chase Field, so Invesco Field seems to be a logical next step. The scorching ballclub has little in common with the slumping Broncos, unless a young Rockie or two was fathered by Travis Henry.

Skeptics will claim that a major league baseball club, even on a historic run, will have no chance against a top-level NFL team like Pittsburgh. However, Colorado has numerous factors in its favor. In the Steelers’ only trip out west this season, they fell to the Arizona Cardinals. The Rockies, on the other hand, are 3-0 versus foes from Pennsylvania this month. Furthermore, National League clubs tend to be very successful when they face an opponent from Pittsburgh.

Also, while the Steelers have numerous stars, the Rockies seem to match up with each of them. Troy Polamalu can be answered by Troy Tulowitzki. Willie Parker gets balanced by Willy Taveras. And Ben Roethlisberger will be unable to throw the deep ball, since the footballs will be stored in a humidor.

Colorado, for its part, will respond with Todd Helton at quarterback. Helton, as frequently noted, backed up Peyton Manning at Tennessee. Manning is more than happy to help his old college buddy, since a Pittsburgh loss could help Indianapolis with its AFC playoff position down the road. Reportedly, Peyton’s most important piece of advice for beating the Steelers was “keep Vanderjagt off the roster.” Helton is unlikely to put up Manning-type numbers, but he can also be successful handing off the ball. This month the Rockies have been quite proficient at running sweeps.

While many fans will be intrigued to see if Colorado can continue its hot streak in a different sport, there are some dissenters. Chief among them is NBC, which is televising the game on Sunday night. After seeing the ratings for the NLCS, the network wanted no part of the Rockies in prime time. Also, MVP candidate Matt Holliday is adamantly against competing in an NFL game. Thinking back to the decisive play at the plate versus San Diego, he refuses to play a sport that uses instant replay.

Regardless of what happens on Sunday, Colorado will then turn back to its primary goal of winning the World Series. Like the Steelers two seasons ago, the Rockies hope to win a championship as a wild card team. As for Pittsburgh, it must quickly adjust its focus before this weekend. Champ Bailey won’t be waiting, but the NL champs will.