If you’re looking for football, go back some blog posts or just wait a few hours. But Saturday night in Centennial State sports belonged to the Rockies, whose efforts have captured the hearts of many in the Broncos’ realm at Dove Valley and beyond.
If even John Lynch was rooting for the Colorado Rockies — the team that blocked his beloved San Diego Padres from the postseason — then surely all but the Philadelphia Phillies’ fans along the Front Range could surely get behind the black and purple for Saturday night’s game at Coors Field, right?
So it was with that mindset that I, a lifelong Braves fan, found myself twirling a towel along with 50,223 others at Denver’s baseball jewel Saturday night, watching the Rockies win the kind of game I once never thought I would see at 5,280 feet — a taut 2-1 thriller over the Phillies that saw the hometowners win in classic National League fashion, with pitching, defense, effective sacrifices and a timely hit or two.
This night belonged to the Rockies … and oh, what a gorgeous night it was.
Back in 2002 when I moved to Denver, I never thought the Rockies would find themselves in such a game in the postseason; even this year, I figured a playoff game against the Phils at Coors Field would be decided by a score of something like 13-11, that the teams would burn through pitchers the way Barney Gumble inhales Duff Beer, that the game would take roughly seven and a half hours and would see me traipsing home at half-past-three.
Instead, we got a game that only made it through to three hours and 15 minutes because of a 14-minute delay for a power outage …
… and because Jamie Moyer repeatedly threw back to first base to keep Kazuo Matsui from meandering towards second base. It has long rankled me when fans boo this action. I doubt any Rockies fans would have made a peep had Ubaldo Jimenez done the same to Jimmy Rollins. This same kind of selective reaction to strategy has long irked me. As many in the crowd jeered, I laughed not only at the hypocrisy of the fans’ reaction, but at the increasing tension of the staredown between Moyer and Matsui. No runs came of the Rockies’ threat, but the tension of the moment, and how even the smallest of actions is pregnant with the possibility of seismic consequences, is what makes playoff baseball — and postseason in any sport, for that matter — as delicious as fresh Maine lobster.
As you can see, my seat wasn’t too great … third level in the right-field corner, section 312, row 7, seat 21. Its sole advantages were the vantage it offered over the whole stadium and its protection from the winds that roared from right to left field throughout much of the evening. From our perch, it seemed like a fairly timid early autumn night.
Not that I don’t love sitting in the press box as I do for Broncos games, but it’s wonderful to go to a sporting event and just be a fan … to casually chit-chat, to high-five with others around you, to leave the stadium with strained vocal cords that drop your voice an octave or two. And the final out … well, I’m just glad I had the video-capture mode on, because now I’ll have Yorvit Torrealba’s jump into Manny Corpas’ arms for as long as I have a computer — one of the greatest moments in Colorado sports history, captured forever.
The experience was even worth the horrendous ride home.
Note to RTD: You need more cars on the light rail after Rockies playoff games. There’s no reason why the platform at Union Station should be sitting vacant for 5-10 minutes, thus only increasing the crush of humanity that floods onto your trains as though it were cattle herded into the stockyards. By the time I boarded a train, I found myself closer to strangers than my fingers are to the computer keyboard, and was within four feet of two customers who were so jarred by the experience — and, yes, maybe some alcohol — that they seemed about to take ill on your trains. I can’t say for sure whether they refunded or managed to hold their nausea inside; I managed to leave the train at my stop halfway to its eventual destination, with no thanks to some of the people near the door who would not budge for fear of losing their place in the car.
Consider this my first and so far sole complaint as I have in the past been more than pleased to take advantage of your light-rail service, but I now may have to look for other transportation alternatives for Game 4 and potentially Game 5 of the National League Championship Series.
Keep driving those spikes,
Somewhere in the midst of the claustrophobic and olfactory nightmare that was the ride home, I wiggled my hand into my camera case to pull out the camera and take a snapshot of the mayhem. The look of disgust on my girlfriend’s face told me I wasn’t going to get the picture without her taking the camera and popping it against my head, which would have kept me from passing on the below photos to you.
So enjoy these other snapshots, which do not include images of humanity packed like peanuts into a Pay Day bar.
My girlfriend — whose blog nickname shall be revealed in a forthcoming entry this week — pointed him out as we passed by and suggested taking a picture. He’s a mainstay at the corner of Blake and 20th, and we’ve heard his clarinet playing a merry tune on many an afternoon or evening as we walked up to Coors Field. Somehow, though, the sounds seemed all the sweeter with 50,000 people walking past instead of the 12,000 or 13,000 who would make their way inside on a chilly April night for a game against the Marlins. Of course, more people were stuck listening to him — as the crowds grew, the crossing of 20th grew all the more deliberate as overcrowding forced many to wait a little while, particularly as the clock wound past 7, within less than 40 minutes of the first pitch. But by that time, we were safely inside, off to procure the requisite Hebrew National hot dogs and bags of Cracker Jack that represented dinner.
Had I been at least somewhat intelligent instead of putting my brain into cold storage at about 1 p.m. Saturday, I would have gone to Home Depot or Lowe’s, bought about 20 brooms and sold them on the streets outside Coors Field at about a 50 percent markup. It would have paid for tickets, food, transportation and souvenirs at the playoff games for which I’ve already purchased tickets.
This thing may look like it was a Photoshop job, but I assure you it was not … simply timely use of the flash on the camera and the fan in front of me swinging his towel at the precise moment to make it seem as though I hastily falsified evidence of his presence at the game. It just looked so odd that the doctor and I concluded it had to be used here.
So many Broncos spoke this week of how the Rockies’ amazing run — now at 16 wins in 17 games — is inspirational, and how it serves as an example of what is possible through persistence and an outright refusal to quit. Now, it’s the Broncos’ turn to carry the torch. The Rockies are off until Thursday … in the interim, the Broncos seek merely to do what their baseball brethren did just last Monday: beat a team from San Diego.
Back on point with football in a few hours, as we’ll turn attention to the special teams and the search for more consistency from both the return and coverage units. Until then, vaya con Dios.
Tags: Colorado Rockies