Instead of reliving the season the Rocks (Not Rox, as I have had to annoyedly endure for far too long) failed to deliver this year, I have thus far retreated into MLB2K8--where they are a sparkling 15-7.
However, I come to PR every day and just observe, not lashing out with frustrated poems about the futility of...well, just about everything with a violet "CR" on it, or shoving my imaginary NLCS ring in the faces of our West foes. No, I only read the expertly crafted opinions and well researched articles that all fans of the Rox (see, there I did it) should read if they want to become educated in the subject of baseball fanaticism.
I am also a junior at CSU and, seeing that Jeff Aberle has written such a compelling story, I will attempt to match him in capturing the chaotically unfiltered emotion that comes with being a Colorado Rockies fan.
There are three things in this world that I believe. I believe in the hanging curveball, good scotch, that presents should be opened...wait, those are three things that Crash Davis believes in. I forgot where I was for a moment. So it goes:
1. Todd is the name to end all names
Ex. For a time in 2002, the heart of our order consisted of Todd Helton, Todd Zeile, and Todd Hollandsworth, respectively. We also had Todd Jones in relief and the previous year had employed Todd Walker, not to mention the immortal Todd Belitz.
2. White outs are a Colorado special
I'm not sure about this, but I think we are one of few, if not the only team that can feature an all-Caucasian lineup without experiencing any major drop-offs in production.
2B Clint Barmes or Jeff Baker
SS Troy Tulowitzki or Clint Barmes
LF Matt Holliday or Seth Smith
1B Garrett Atkins or Todd Helton or Joe Koshansky
RF Brad Hawpe or
3B Ian Stewart or Garret Atkins
C Chris Ianetta or Adam Melhuse
CF Ryan Spilborghs or Scott Podsednik
P Aaron Cook or Jeff Francis or Glendon Rusch or Jason Hirsh or Greg Reynolds
I interpret this fact no deeper than the screen it's typed on, I just find said fact interesting, cheers.
3. No interview is ever too unsubstantial.
Case in point:
"We would like to think that we haven't played our best baseball, either ... It's still ahead of us and any time you're trying to catch teams, there's not a better way to catch them other than playing them."
My Rocktember started in April. Since the beginning of middle school I'd estimate that I have watched or listened to 130 Rockies games per year, beginning to end. Recently, gamecast has made it impossible for me to miss a pitch, even at work.
As the season progressed, I grew more and more complacent with the Team and accepted that this was going to be the same experience like every other year. Losing nine out of ten into the All-Star Break and having the Brian Fuentes blow four consecutive saves (Perhaps even more improbable is the fact that superrookie Troy Tulowitzki had go-ahead homeruns in the first 3!) only confirmed my doubts that We would once again barely miss a World Championship.
But as we all know, these Johnny-come-whenevers stormed back in a fashion that can only be described as unprecedented. I vaguely remember George Frazier's pleasantly awful voice on the final day of the ninth month and the camera zooming in on the right field scoreboard where the Padres had taken an unnerving three run lead early. Tomko had ten losses right? The Brew Crew should be shelling him. Who the hell is Yusmeiro Petit and why is he shutting us out? The crowd stirred anxiously. My television was still and far from crystal-clear and from that low-definition projection I saw Milwaukee put up a two spot in the fourth, a FOUR spot in the fifth, and for good measure they banked three more in the sixth. All the Rocks had to do now was fail at something they were very good at--blowing leads.
Good fortune, a two-out RBI from Hawpe in the sixth.
"One run might win it," I thought.
To which the Snakes responded, "Nay, for if you turn to Jorge Julio he shall make you crash back to reality."
Then Fuentes made his case for being an excellent pitcher by promptly striking out two and putting an end to George July's meltdown.
Hawpe proved he wanted very badly to play in the postseason, for whatever absurd reason, by plating two more runs. At this point the game was over. Our employee of the month, Manuel Corpas, pride and joy of Panama, was in the deepest of grooves. So, of course, I was preparing to not freak out too harshly when he screwed up, and screw up he did. At 4-3, I was running on wishes: wishes that pigs could fly and that good really did exist in the world and then...
Rocktober 1, 2007
I immediately print off my tickets to the game, waited five minutes, apparently most people thought yesterday was a hoax and that there was no way a play-in game would take place without the universe ripping in twain.
The Stadium is high-voltage.
Coors looks like it got nailed with a beautiful purple and black hurricane and I am in heaven so far from school and football. My friend Matt, the lucky recepient of my other golden ticket drinks the fanfare in from the left field line. This is what baseball games are supposed to be like. This is the exotic word "atmosphere" that they haphazardly mention on Baseball Tonight and other bi-coastal promotional organizations. This is the best day of my life.
The word "mismatched" cannot begin to aptly describe the pitchers asked to throw the biggest games of their careers. On the one hand we have Jacob Edward Peavy, soon to be named NL Cy Young Award winner and proud leader of every statistical pitching category known to man... facing one Joshua Smith Fogg, of Lynn Massachusetts fame, whose career 60-60 record was bolstered by '07 wins over Curt Schilling, Mike Mussina, Brandon Webb, and Derek Lowe, which earned him the brilliant nickname "Dragonslayer" despite widespread knowledge that Curt Schilling does not breath fire.
The game started off surprisingly well apart from the pack of Padres fans directly to our left. Fogg breezed through the first two innings without any damage. The drunkard in the friar costume and accentuating haircut even sat down and shut his boisterous trap when the Rockies loaded the bases with no outs in the first, scoring a pedestrian two runs for their efforts. Things were looking real bright in the second when Torrealba showed us his best Albert Pujols impression by belting one into the seats. As far as Peavy goes, the rout was on. I was enjoying myself so much I thought I'd get up and get a Tornadough.
I meandered toward the scent of butter-slathered pretzels and ordered mine cinnamon (Sure, parmesan is good, but nothing compares to the sweet, melting bliss of cinnamon), when I casually glanced out onto the diamond, just in time to see Peavy reach on a single. No big deal. I tore the edge off my tornadough and headed for the seats. A walk and a single found me fidgeting at the top of the stairs, waiting for the all-powerful elderly gentlemen to let me proceed to my seats. Up stepped fellow Evergreen High School graduate Kevin Kuozmanoff with an enormous opportunity to help his team. Pop out to left, not deep enough.The Ticketmaster let me go to my seat undeterred and I nibbled at my treat.
With the bases still loaded, I settled into my pew and prayed that Adrian Gonzalez was overrated and not way better than anyone gives him credit for. Adrian turned from his stance, pointed at me, threw back his head and laughed. Fogg released the pitch, Gonzalez decided he would spare me the pain of playoff agony, and the ball landed somewhere in the Tech Center.
There are many reactions to a grand slam: awe, disbelief, the f-word. I ran the gamut of emotions and decided there was only one appropriate way to express how I felt. I enjoyed myself. I marveled at the fact that we'd even made it this far. When the Fathers scored an insurance run I couldn't wait for us to fight back. We were taking it to Peavy, a two-run lead was nothing big. And it WAS nothing big because Helton decided to do his best Larry Walker impression in the bottom of the inning and tore the cover off the ball, hammering it into the more-than-cheap seats.
We came back again in the fifth, tying it with a Tulo double and a timely Holliday single.
The sixth saw us take the lead on a triple by youngster Seth Smith and a smart at bat by Kaz, mustering a sac fly.
The Padres looked beaten, they were not a superior offensive machine, and the Rockies' bullpen had been nearly flawless during their September run.
The Rockies needed insurance, and in the seventh inning, Atkins provided the pop...apparently. He hit an absolute laser into the left field bleachers which bounced back like most balls do off the wall--high in the air and curiously like it had hit material beyond the green padding. It was ruled a double and we had something to argue about the next day. People were LIVID. I heard dozens of great umpire heckles. We failed to score even though replays indicated we should have.
Fuentes showed who the real fans were by giving up a game tying two-out double to Giles. I was close to tears.
The extra-innings were uneventful and the crowd grew increasingly restless. Then BANG! Scott Hairston hit a no-doubter to left and people started leaving. The friar got up and danced. The real fans booed those who decided to beat traffic and left the stadium in a hurry. This one was clearly decided. Why even play the last three outs?
I tapped Matt on the shoulder, "I think we'll be fine, they just had a bunch of guys throwing heaters right by us. We OWN Trevor Hoffman." In all honesty, I was confident about the Rockies chances for the first time in a long time. And boy did they not disappoint. Hoffman's fluff stuff was so hittable. Three extra-base hits into the inning and Hoffman looked as old as he was.
Jamey Carroll is NOT Garrett Atkins. He would never be mistaken for anything but a diminutive utility guy in 100 years. He laced the worst excuse for a sac-fly I've ever seen, and Mike Gallego, predictably, sent Holliday as he had sent the fleet-footed Helton home time after time. Fortunately luck was on our side, and thus the first day of Rocktober ended--with me screaming until I couldn't breathe
I thought that Coors was going to fall apart. The pure unadulterated joy that came from the masses swelled up and exploded into the night. Trampling onto Blake street as playoff contenders and seeing the city swayed with Rockie fever made me hope that this was not a dream and that I was soon going to wake up to a 76-86 record. This was worth every losing season, every sun-soaked day watching John Smoltz shut the door on us or Randy Johnson gassing it by our intimidated hitters. This was just another Rockies game and it showed what we are capable of every single night.
I have yet to witness a sporting event in such a way that there are not enough words to describe its greatness, but this was as close as it comes. I will live and die a Rockies fan and when they cut me open I'll bleed purple.