"Too early to say." -- Zhou Enlai in 1972, answering a question on the impact of the 1968 Paris protests (or maybe the 1789 French Revolution)1
Ten years ago, there were only three Rockies blogs worth reading. Two of them were run by future members of Purple Row: Franchise26/Dan Lucero's Up in the Rockies on Most Valuable network and RoxFanInTennessee's blog I don't remember the name to after all these years. Dan linked to the other blog, Baseball on Blake Street, in several of his posts, and there was something about this Bran's writing that made a bad team interesting. Yet, none of the three sites had much of a community; the commenting systems were pretty bad.
Ten years ago also happened to be the year SportsBlog Nation expanded from one site (about the Oakland A's) to seven sites roughly a week into February. McCovey Chronicles was the first of the original six, followed by Red Reporter, Lookout Landing, DRaysBay, Bleed Cubbie Blue, and Minor League Ball. The latter site was how I found SB Nation. I followed John Sickels work at ESPN for years but he separated from the World Wide Leader and found a new home at a nascent network.
With the new season approaching rapidly, SB Nation kept launching new baseball sites every few weeks. Over the Monster. Amazin' Avenue. AZ Snake Pit. Gaslamp Ball. Hey, three out of five NL West teams covered, maybe the Rockies will be next! Alas, the two blogs that launched the same day as Gaslamp Ball were Brew Crew Ball and Halos Heaven.
That was the last wave of expansion before the start of the season. The Rockies' first game was cool with Clint Barmes hitting a walk-off home run to put the team past the Padres, 12-10, but still no Colorado blog. Late on April 28, I checked in on Baseball on Blake Street to find a post saying that future writings would now be at Purple Row, an SB Nation blog.
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Dan made the first comment on the site, beating me by roughly 24 hours because the registration system acted up and wouldn't send me a correct validation link.
We've come a long way since that first night, but the foundation for what Purple Row has become started immediately; the morning Rockpile with all the links you needed to read about the team appeared most days and the Pebble Report examining the farm system became required reading. The move to SB Nation also meant the arrival of GameThreads, the community aspect that has made the SB Nation blog experience second to none. The community was much smaller back then, maybe only 10 regular commenters and five who showed up most nights to discuss the game. It was the first time I could talk with other Rockies fans, though I spent more summer nights listening to the Casper Rockies radio broadcast.
Purple Row has rightly been recognized for its coverage of the minor league system. An early defining moment for that came during the 2005 draft, which was basically just Rox Girl and I bantering back and forth over draft selections.2 And if you're a long-time community member you're thinking right about now, "Oh, I remember looking at that. RG and Russ didn't hate the Troy Tulowitzki pick but they didn't love it either." All true, and in retrospect, we should have been more excited.3 But read the footnote later because I want to avoid that tangent up here. That was the moment I knew I'd stick around on Purple Row.
There's a quote from Woody Allen that's turned into "Showing up is 80 percent of life." I kept showing up at Purple Row. FanPosts, before 2008, were known as diaries and that's where I put some of my writings on the Rockies, from tracking junior college DFE candidates to the Rockies signing a Dominican teenager or Aaron Cook signing a new deal in the offseason. Purple Row spent most of its first winter and a large part of spring training in hibernation. It was only a few days before the the start of the 2006 season that Tyler Bleszinksi, SB Nation founder and then-lead blogger at Athletics Nation, emailed me with an offer to take over Purple Row. I didn't give it much thought. I said sure because I wanted a place where Rockies fans could congregate. There were no alternatives for the community that started the year before.
Ever since then, Purple Row has been the story of continuity. Sure there have been changes, but the line from Rox Girl to me to Andrew Martin to Jeff Aberle and to Bryan Kilpatrick is an unbroken line of community succession. Community will always be the top priority for Purple Row.
And that is how I have maintained being 23 different members of Purple Row since 2006.
I'll be the first to admit that I wrote few insightful things about the Rockies and I don't like re-reading old articles; there's just too much that I'd find wrong with how they were written. Until I wrote about Dick Monfort not being Mikhail Gorbachev in 2014, I hadn't had any fun writing about the Rockes since 2009. If you go back in the archives to early May 2009, you'll find a post in which I call out the Rockies for being bad at public relations, for failing to make fans feel as though they had a stake in the team. Or at least that's how I remember the post. I know I invited Bill Geivett to come back to the site and perhaps answer questions. He did. I also called for the tree of liberty to be refreshed with the blood of patriots and tyrants.4 Dick Monfort and Dan O'Dowd fired Clint Hurdle a few weeks later. I claim no credit for that, but the tree of liberty was refreshed.
It was fun again to be a Rockies fan after the let down of 2008. The promise of Rocktober -- I'll stop myself there for a moment. The promise of Rocktober was a fiction and anything you might find in 2008 about that is just awful dreck. But 2009 was good, even though the team didn't make it out of the wild card round. The next season was going to be better, right?
Ha! We all know how 2010 turned out. But that was also the year that I finally visited Denver. I had only met three Rockies fans before then: two because they went to school in or near New York City and a second who was on vacation in the city, but all three because they were Purple Row members. But going out to Denver and meeting Purple Row members? Totally on SB Nation's dime. Muzia picked me up at the airport and we went to Falling Rock to meet a dozen or so Rowbots who were able to come together on such short notice
Unfortunately the launch party I was out there for was scheduled during a Rockies road trip. We didn't get to have a Purple Row outing in the purple row; it's only taken five years to correct that. All in all, though, it was great to meet everyone who showed up during the two days I was in Denver.5
At that point the Rockies were becoming less enjoyable for me and the end to the season didn't help. For the better, I passed Purple Row into Andrew Martin's hands shortly after the Giants won the World Series. A few months later I was finally at Coors Field for my first Opening Day. Dammit, Russ, you showed up to the game where Ubaldo Jimenez's downfall in 2011 started. Let's try this again in 2012. Barry F'n Zito. I skipped 2013 and finally saw a Rockies home opening victory in 2014. The end result for each of those seasons never returned the fun to the Rockies. But each year I've gone out to Denver, I've stayed with great friends and done cool things with them -- all because of Purple Row.
Since Bryan's taken over Purple Row, I think I've become less fatalistic about the Rockies, found fun in the team again. Almost twenty years into being a Rockies fan I can't imagine being a fan of any other team.6 That is due to Purple Row in large part, even if I had remained being just a commenter and never taken over. Rocktober 2007 might have been just as exciting if I was a commenter, but I can say with near surety that it wouldn't have been as fun if Purple Row hadn't been around.
To borrow some much-maligned lines of Dick Monfort's, "I can't think of a community that's as good as Purple Row's. Granted, I don't know all of them. I do get a chance every once in a while to visit a few, but I just think Purple Row is head and shoulders above the others."
1. If Enlai did mean the student protests of just five years earlier, it really isn't that great of a quote. See Richard McGregor, "Zhou’s cryptic caution lost in translation" in Financial Times. www.ft.com/cms/s/0/74916db6-938d-11e0-922e-00144feab49a.html#axzz3XKjnSfLj
**. Then again...
3. Let's meander a bit on this point. I wanted Cameron Maybin, whom the Tigers selected three picks later at No. 10. Maybin's career has been a huge disappointment, though Tigers fans are happy because the team traded him as part of the Miguel Cabrera deal in 2007. Time, as far as we can test, runs only in one direction: forward. Let's posit, however, that we could go back in time, say a week before the draft takes place. Unless you believe in the inevitability of events, that the past, present, and future all happen at the same time, making things immutable, one week is enough time for different decisions to be made, different choices to crop up. Perhaps the Mariners would have drafted Tulo over Jeff Clement. Perhaps the Rockies still would have landed Tulo, but there would be no guarantee that Tulo turns out to be the Tulo we know and love. Point and laugh about the lack of enthusiasm I had for the Tulo pick. I do. But let's not act like anyone knew it was inevitable that Tulo would be what he has turned out to be.
4. This being adapted from something Thomas Jefferson wrote. I might have heard or read this in an article about what was emerging as the Tea Party. It certainly sounds like a quote that movement would use. But let's also remember that you could also find me using "the arc of baseball history is long..." and "time and a place, time and a place," the latter late in the season as the playoff race heated up. Both were rhetorical phrases thrown about a lot in 2009.Thanks, Obama!
Also, there's an unrelated and underdeveloped article from 2009 about calling for a reevaluation of Coors Field, just as the rifle musket in Civil War combat had been. The challenge is still out there for someone to do that.
5. But I did take a tour of Coors Field while was out there. It is unofficially the first time Purple Row entered the press box there. Well, that is if everyone on the staff then remembers correctly that they never took a tour of the stadium.
6. Go Giants, however.