DENVER -- "It's very serendipitous the Padres are here for this weekend."
Rockies manager Bud Black's pregame media session was a little different before Colorado's series opener with San Diego at Coors Field on Friday night. Prior to the contest, the club honored its 2007 National League championship team 10 years after it began a furious run to the postseason that culminated in the franchise's first World Series appearance.
As he addressed the media, Black looked out at the field and saw members of that team greeting each other and current Rockies players.
Black was the manager of the Padres when they squared off against the Rockies on Oct. 1, 2007, in a tiebreaking Game 163 to determine which club would be the NL Wild Card winner. In one of the most memorable games in baseball history, Colorado won with a walk-off sacrifice fly by Jamey Carroll off San Diego closer Trevor Hoffman, scoring Matt Holliday and sending the Rockies to the postseason with a 9-8 victory in 13 innings.
"They deserved everything they got that season, because they played good baseball," Black said. "They deserved to get into the playoffs, and I think the way they played -- they beat the Diamondbacks, they beat the Phillies, and the Red Sox had a great year, too. Something has to give, but what a great run for the Rockies."
The Rockies entered the bottom of the 13th down, 8-6, and Troy Tulowitzki's RBI double was followed by an RBI triple from Holliday to tie it up. Holliday's head-first slide into the plate on the sac fly sent Colorado into the NL Division Series against the Phillies, whom they swept. In the NL Championship Series, the Rockies swept the D-backs, and in the World Series, they were swept by the Red Sox.
Even 10 years later, there was plenty of playful banter about Game 163's much-discussed winning run scored by Holliday, who appeared to miss the plate but the safe call was final, as MLB didn't install its replay rules until the next season. Black sparred with the Rockies' broadcast booth during a between-innings interview, and Padres manager Andy Green had a lighthearted jab before the game.
"I saw it. Remember it well," said Green, who was watching the tiebreaker from Japan, "Still didn't touch home, right? Still waiting for that. Holliday didn't come for this reunion; he's still gainfully employed, so he's not here. Maybe one of them touched home in his honor."
Colorado's incredible run of 14 victories over the final 15 games of the regular season, plus its undefeated run to the World Series, made 2007 the most significant season in the franchise's 25-year history. But Game 163 is the first memory from that year for many.
"Mixed emotions," Black said. "The older I get, the more I appreciate that game, as far as being a great game. … And I don't think it gets the credit it deserves, partially because of the two teams; a little bit under-the-market-type teams. What a great game."
As the Padres and Rockies headed down the stretch neck-and-neck in the NL Wild Card race, Black recalls following Colorado's sprint to the finish.
"It was one of those things when the Rockies were going through September," Black said. "You ever see the movie 'Butch Cassidy and the Sun Dance Kid'? You remember when Paul Newman and Robert Redford looked over their shoulders and said, 'Who are those guys?!' We kept thinking, 'Did they win again?' It was incredible. It's not unlike what the Indians are going through right now [an American League-record 22 consecutive victories entering Friday]."
Game 163 in 2007 underscored the excitement and electric atmosphere afforded by the prospect of reaching the postseason via a Wild Card spot. It's a quality of the postseason structure not lost on Black, particularly as his 2017 Rockies fight for a Wild Card berth with two weeks remaining in the season.
"It just goes to show you that it's so close, winning or losing," Black said. "And championship-type games, it's razor-thin sometimes, the win or the loss. That was a tough one for us, no doubt about it. So I know the feeling of that, and I know the feeling the other way too, a couple of times.
"And it's razor-thin."
Manny Randhawa is a reporter for MLB.com based in Denver. Follow him on Twitter at @MannyOnMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.