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Rox may put AL dominance to rest

Rox may put AL dominance to rest

DENVER -- Even if the challenger from the American League were to come in the form of the 1927 Yankees, there seemingly wouldn't be much reason for the ever-confident Rockies to be fearful entering their first World Series experience.

Having won 21 of their past 22 games, the Rockies truly are living the "Anytime, Anywhere" mantra that had been utilized by the Arizona Diamondbacks until they were swept out of the National League Championship Series this week by the red-hot Rockies.

Whether it's been on the road at Coors Field, the Rockies have essentially completed every challenge that they've faced for more than a month.

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Thus, it's understandable why they aren't fazed by the fact that the American League has won 15 of the past 23 World Series. The overwhelming sense of confidence that has come from their run of success has them seeing this solely as an opportunity to become just the ninth NL team to win a world championship since 1982.

When it comes time for them to face either the Indians or Red Sox in this year's Fall Classic, the only history the Rockies will concern themselves with is of the recent variety, during which they've established themselves as one of the hottest teams baseball has ever seen.

"History is history," Rockies outfielder Ryan Spilborghs said when asked about the World Series dominance the AL has experienced for nearly a quarter century. "I don't really think it has to do with anything in the present. I don't know if there's anything you can pull from that fact, other than that's the history of it."

History shows that Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki and starting pitchers Ubaldo Jimenez and Franklin Morales weren't even born the last time the NL captured consecutive World Series titles. The last team to do so was the 1982 Cardinals, who captured what was a fourth straight world championship for the Senior Circuit.

Since then, just eight NL teams have won the World Series. The worst drought came from 1991-2000, when the AL captured seven of the nine Fall Classics held.

But since the Blue Jays and Yankees dominated that span, the NL has won three of the past six World Series. This has at least given reason to wonder if the tide has turned to the point where AL dominance only currently pertains to Interleague Play and the fact that the NL hasn't won any of the past 10 All-Star Games.

"We know that the American League is the big-boy league -- they hit," Rockies veteran reliever Matt Herges said. "But when you look at our lineup, we have a pretty good lineup. We have some boppers. We have speed. What you want in a lineup, I think we have."

Obviously, the biggest difference between roster construction of teams in these two leagues stems from AL's use of the designated hitter. Both teams use the DH in World Series games played in the AL city.

This marks the fifth straight year that the AL's victory in the All-Star Game assured its pennant winner home-field advantage in the World Series. But the assumption of this providing an advantage has been thrown into question by the world championships captured by last year's Cardinals and the 2003 Marlins -- a bunch that draws some similarities to this year's Rockies.

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Like that Marlins team was, the Rockies are a young bunch whose pitching staff made dramatic statistical improvements after the All-Star break. Both teams also ended these respective seasons with the NL's best fielding percentage.

"They came in like we did," said Herges of those Marlins that eliminated him and his Giants teammates in the Division Series. "They came firing hot. They didn't cruise through [the postseason]. They had a little help from [infamous Cubs fan Steve] Bartman. But they were the hottest team in baseball, so they won the whole thing."

The theory that a late, September surge equates to October success hasn't always held true. Last year's Cardinals lost 10 of their last 14 games and 14 of their last 22. The 1997 Marlins gained a Wild Card entry despite losing 15 of their final 24 regular-season games.

Still, both of these teams tasted the October euphoria that the Rockies are hoping to experience in a few weeks.

While no NL world championship team since 1990 has ever been as hot as this year's Rockies, who closed the regular season with 14 wins in their final 15 games, the 2003 Marlins did close their season winning seven of nine and 21 of 29.

Another former NL pennant winning team the Rockies could draw comparison to is the 1991 Braves. Both entered into the postseason after last-place finishes the year before, and both rebounds were a product of the organizations placing a greater emphasis on pitching and defense.

That Braves bunch, which won eight of their last nine and 21 of their last 29 regular-season games, suffered extra-inning losses in Games 6 and 7 in the World Series against the Twins.

"We're here because we've got a good club," Rockies manager Clint Hurdle said. "We've earned this opportunity. We're past the point of being hot, in my opinion. It has been a remarkable streak. Fifty years from now, it will probably be talked about like I've heard 'The Drive' talked about in Denver, Colorado."

"The Drive" is the one that Denver Broncos quarterback John Elway orchestrated in the final minutes of the 1987 AFC Championship Game victory over the Browns. With that win, the city of Denver experienced a shot at a world championship for the first time since 1978.

It would take four trips to the Super Bowl before Elway and the Broncos won a world championship. Hurdle is hoping it takes his bunch just one trip to his sport's grandest stage to experience ultimate satisfaction. If this proves to be a reality, the NL might truly be able to claim is has bucked the trend of AL supremacy.

"As far as if the tide is turning, I really don't care," Spilborghs said. "I just want us to win our next game."

Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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{"content":["world_series" ] }
{"content":["world_series" ] }