After 5 years of dating including a year and a half engagement, I married the love of my life on September 22, 2007. The following Monday, Sarah and I departed for our honeymoon in Playa del Carmen. A week later, my bride and I took the bus ride back to Cancun to fly back to Colorado. After landing in Denver, we turned our phones on as we waited to debark the plane. After being out of the pocket for a week, I had a lot of voicemail. One by one, I listened and deleted each message as we exited the plane and headed toward customs. Right as we were to the customs area where cell phones needed to be turned off, I heard the last voicemail - "Mike, it's Robert. The Rockies are playing a play-in game and tickets go on sale in a couple minutes. Call me if you want me to get you one." As I went to call Robert back, a kind customs employee reminded me that I needed to turn off my phone in that area. I would have to call him back once we got through. The second I was allowed to turn my phone back on, I fired it up. What seemed like hours later, the phone woke up and a new voicemail from Robert appeared. "Hey Mike. Robert again. I didn't hear from you so I just assumed you wanted to go and I got you a ticket. Call me when you can." That is a great friend.
The next day, Robert and I headed to Coors Field to watch Game 163 against those pesky Padres. We sat in the front row of the now defunct right field upper deck seats. We were the Party Deck before the Party Deck was the Party Deck. I chatted with the gentleman seated next to me, swapping stories about how we came about procuring tickets to the game. I remember him laughing as I stumbled through incorrect labels for Sarah (my girlfriend, no fiancee, no WIFE!) as I recounted my story. And then there was the game. The game. Coors was cold and crazy and packed and LOUD. Never in my life have I experienced noise like that at a baseball game, especially one taking place in an open stadium. As the game entered the 13th inning, you could feel the despair as the Padres scored two runs with future Hall of Famer Trevor Hoffman waiting in the bullpen. But this was 2007. This was the year of Helton vs. Saito. This was the year. In the bottom of the 13th, the despair was displaced with anticipation as the bases began filling up. First Matsui. Then Tulo. Up to the plate stepped Matt Holliday. The fervor was growing. As the ball connected with the bat, the place erupted. You could not hear the person next to you. An intentional walk to Helton quieted the crowd slightly. Into the box stepped Jamey Carroll. I stood at the railing, feeling my heart beating through my chest. The ball sailed to short right field. I remember thinking, "NO NO NO NO NO" as I watched Holliday tag at third. The slide. The wait. Safe. Even though I was in my seat, it felt like the entire fifth deck was pushing me toward the field. The elation from the win was compounded with the adrenaline from hanging over the edge of the railing. The Rockies were going to the playoffs.
Between the magical run to close out the season, the improbability of those season-ending wins, the hangover from my wedding, and the electricity of Coors Field that night, I am unsure if how I felt during that game can ever be replicated.