October 1 seems like a long time ago. Two and one half weeks is one way of calculating. Or, you could say it's a previous season using baseball time. Or, maybe it's no time at all, referring to the feeling of timelessness one has when living a king-hell streak.
Remember the night of October 1? The 13th inning of San Diego's 163rd game? The Padres were leading by two runs going into the bottom of the 13th. Then Colorado scored 3 to win 9-8. The last play was a disputed tag at home plate.
Bummer. Turn off the lights and call it a season.
But if you're living in Denver, the party never stopped. There was the Rockies' wild-card win over San Diego, then three in a row over Philadelphia in the NL Division Series, then four in a row over Arizona for the NL Championship. Thence, the World Series.
As anyone who has read this far knows, Colorado has won 21 of their last 22 games. Their streak started last summer, September 16, over a month in the rearview mirror from here.
It's getting to the point where you have to ask yourself, "Are they ever going to lose?" The correct answer is, "Yes," but the money bet is, "When?"
On September 15, back last summer, Colorado was fourth in the wild-card race, 4 1/2 games out. How many things had to go right for them, and how many things had to go wrong for those three other teams? Got the number? Good. Then, multiply that by all the teams those four teams played and the teams those teams played and we're getting into string theory.
When a team is in a zone like the one Colorado has been in, you can disregard odds. Which is one of the reasons why people like sports. And religion. And gambling. Impossible things happen.
The telephone rings. It's Todd Mehner, a Vegas cohort from the '80s and current Martha's Vineyard resident. His career path has remained the same in both locations: vague. Todd says, correctly assuming I'm watching the game, "You don't see this sort of thing often." Pause. "Can you feel it?"
Sure I can. "Colorado's not allowed to lose. They couldn't lose if they wanted to."
With one out, Arizona pitcher Micah Owings walks Brad Hawpe on four pitches, walks Troy Tuloqizki on a three-and-two pitch, and Yorvit Torrealba dribs a ball between the pitcher and first base. Owings makes the only play he has: throws to first. Two outs. Colorado baserunners advance to second and third. Rookie Seth Smith plops a ball over the third baseman's head -- almost on the foul line -- for a double and two runs score. Willy Taveras hits a soft grounder to the Arizona first baseman, who boots it. Colorado on first and third. Now Kaz Matsui singles, and another run scores. Matt Holliday hits a home run. It's 6 to 1.
Todd says, "That was quick."
We met in Vegas during the early '80s. He played poker at the Hilton, might have been the $25 table, but grind-'em-out 40-hour-week poker. Played by the book, every hand, not a gram of discretion.
I say, "You're not going to watch this to the end, are you? This will probably go on past closing time. Good lord, lad, baseball hates you East Coast wimps. The National League championships are on cable; this deciding game started on a weeknight past 10:00 o'clock. I expect it will be broadcast on tape delay next year, after the hockey game."
Todd says, "The men are strong on Martha's Vineyard."
Todd was witness to my longest casino streak. I forget the amount of money...it was in the low thousands; not enough to change my life, but enough to give it a nice stroke. I've had very few casino streaks because my play was betting NFL...never enjoyed gambling in casinos. In the '80s, the Horseshoe Casino was a locals place, served the cheapest imported beer in town, and we'd often meet there on Fridays.
Opinions have been known to change after a few shots of tequila, and on one Friday afternoon in March, I walked up to the blackjack table and put a $100 bill down. Bingo. I win.
I double up and do it again. I win again. I double up again and win again. This is starting to get interesting. Todd appears and hands me a beer. The dealer, a woman in her late 40s, leans forward and says, "Push when you're hot, walk away when it goes cold."
I pushed. At blackjack. Roulette. Craps. Baccarat. And everything along the way. It didn't matter what game. This is the way the world was meant to be. Me winning. And, you know, it's so easy to win.