DENVER, CO - What a long, strange trip that was. It's hard to remember all the details, to be honest. I've been to many baseball games in my life, but I've never experienced anything as strange as last night and this morning. Maybe I should just start at the beginning.
I arrived at Coors Field with my friend Jake Shapiro. My credential was ready but his wasn't, so we waited outside the box office for about fifteen minutes. Several police squad cars rolled by with their sirens on, but I didn't take notice. Then we got word that there was an active shooter at 15th and Wynkoop. That's like, five blocks from Coors Field. I decided to go inside. The park was on lockdown and the media entrance gate had to be manually opened for me. I wasn't nervous at any point, because I don't think I really processed the proximity of what was going on.
Everyone in the Rockies clubhouse was watching the local news on TV. Some players tried to stay lighthearted, while others seemed deeply concerned with what was happening. I didn't ask any questions. Whether or not the game would go forward was still an open question.
Walt Weiss gave his usual pre-game press conference in the dugout. The mood was light and there was no reference made to the shooting. Weiss told a story about how Don Baylor took him under his wing at spring training when he was a rookie, and he teased that Trevor Story and DJ LeMahieu were progressing well. I didn't think we'd see both of them tonight, or even tomorrow.
Walked as close to Troy Tulowitzki as I'll ever get on the field during batting practice. Josh Donaldson asked some kids who were waiting for autographs what they knew about the shooting. I saw fans starting to trickle in to the park and figured that the situation must be controlled if they were letting people downtown. Vinny Castilla put his hand on Tulo's shoulder while he talked to him.
Heard that the shooter had killed himself and that everything was fine. Jake and I decided to get tacos at Mexico City restaurant. On the way back we saw storm clouds. "Do you think it's going to rain?" he asked me. I told him it would probably rain a lot. Jake drives a Jeep Wrangler and doesn't usually put the top up. He decided to hope that it wouldn't be that bad of a storm.
The game goes into a weather delay before the storm arrives, and it becomes clear that the storm is going to be intense. Jake frantically rushes out of the press box to put the cover on his Jeep. They put down the tarps and everyone waits to see just how bad this is going to be.
The rain gets heavier and heavier until it turns to hail. The outfield turns white and the areas past deep short and deep second base turn into small lakes. Water cascades down the steps of the home dugout and goes into the hallway that leads to the clubhouse. I start to ask myself if they seriously intend on playing tonight.
Every time the rain lets up long enough for people to go back to their seats, it starts again and forces the crowd back to shelter. Playing seems extremely unlikely at this point. There are mountains of hail in the outfield.
Somehow, the grounds crew manage to get the hail and the water off the field. It finally stops raining for good, and the sky clears up.
The tarp finally comes off the field, and a first pitch time of 9:20 is announced. In that hour, the grounds crew make it look like it never even rained at all, and we're finally ready to play some baseball.
The first pitch from newly clean shaven starter Eddie Butler is a ball. He struggles with his control all night and, despite a scoreless first two innings, pitches just 3 1/3.
In the bottom of the third, Carlos Gonzalez hits a three-run home run that puts the Rockies up 4-1. The crowd, which is still sizable at this point, goes absolutely nuts. After the game, CarGo told me that seeing how many fans stuck around through the rain delay gave him extra motivation to go out and give them what they came to see. As if he needed a reason to be even more locked in than he already was.
Troy Tulowitzki gets his first hit of the series, and it's a solo home run. Maybe CarGo motivated him this time around. It's the start of a six run inning for the Jays, with the pivotal play being a throwing error by Eddie Butler on a bunt by JA Happ. Postgame, Butler said that he had originally planned to go to first with the ball, but that he heard Nick Hundley yelling for him to go to second. A good throw probably would have gotten the lead runner, but the ball sailed wide. Butler didn't record another out after that, and then Yohan Flande came in and made everything worse. The Rockies bullpen would give up a run in every inning for the rest of the game. Eddie Butler said remorsefully after the game that his error "screwed us", but he left the game with the Rockies leading 4-3, and was only responsible for 6 of the 14 Blue Jay runs last night. Still, it could be his last start with the big club for a while.
Under the stewardship of Yohan Flande, the Blue Jays extend their lead to 11-5. Justin Miller comes in and gives up another run to make it 12-5 going into the bottom of the seventh. I start praying for things to get weird, and they do.
Edwin Encarnacion makes an unfathomably bad error on an easy throw from Troy Tulowitzki that should have ended the inning, and the Rockies are given new life. A Charlie Blackmon single with the bases loaded cuts the lead to 12-9, and Tony Wolters comes to the plate with a chance to tie the game. He strikes out and the Rockies never threaten again. It would have been awesome if the game had gone to extra innings. Wait, no it wouldn't have.
DJ LeMahieu, surprisingly, enters the game at second base. Tony Wolters is playing shortstop.
Walt Weiss takes LeMahieu out of the game an inning after inserting him, and puts Mark Reynolds at second base. Ryan Raburn plays first. Wolters still at short. The world is governed by madness. The Blue Jays continue to score in every inning and increase their lead to 14-9.
Six hours and 32 minutes after it was scheduled to start, the game ends.
After some brief interviews, Jake and I leave Coors Field. The inside of his Jeep is wet, despite him putting the top up. The ride home is freezing.
I finally arrive back at my house, 13 1/2 hours after I left it. It occurs to me that another game will start in ten hours, and that players will be available for interviews in seven hours. Baseball is a game, but it's also a job; both for the players and the media who cover them. Yesterday it felt like one. I feel bad for everyone who has to be back at the park in a few hours; no matter how much money they make.