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We’ve been here the whole time

Rockies fans discuss why this team being good matters and why it feels good to win.

MLB: Los Angeles Dodgers at Colorado Rockies Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

Fandom is, for all intents and purposes, irrational.

It is emotion based. It is rooted in idealism. Fandom isn’t something easy to explain or argue in defense of. It just, simply put, is.

If someone asked you “Why do you care?” would you have the answer off the top of your head? If someone saw you disappointed in a bullpen meltdown, would you be able to adequately explain why it hurt so much? Or why it hurt at all?

Charlie Blackmon launched a two run home run into the Target Field seats on May 16 when I asked myself this question. I remember being so excited I couldn’t sleep; my adrenaline had pumped into my veins and I was wide awake. I remember staring at the ceiling with just “10 games over .500” rolling through my head. It was all I could think about. Then it hit me.

“Why does this matter so much?”

I didn’t ask it in a condescending way, I asked myself earnestly why is felt so good to watch the Rockies win. I felt this question deep in my bones. This wasn’t just a “why am I a fan?” question. We’re fans for thousands of reasons. This was more emotion based. Not “Why do we waste our time?” But, “Why does this May 16 game make me feel so f’ing good?”

I had to ask the people. I don’t just see it in myself, I see it in every fan that’s followed this team. This means something to us. I had to find out exactly why. So I asked for experiences, I asked for reasons, I asked for emotions. I had to know why this mattered.

You sent me your experiences, you sent me your reasons why this matters to you. They’re all great. Here are some of my favorites:

Call me a bandwagon fan if you want, but I became a full time Rockies fan until 2007. I grew up moving around a lot, and none of the places had a local team until I moved to Denver as a freshman in high school.

I watched a lot of Braves on TBS, but never had a real connection. My family is from KC and the Royals were always garbage and not really an option to watch. I have always been a baseball fan but before it was tough to keep up without a local team.

I moved away from Denver for the last two years of high school, but moved back to Colorado to go to college in the fall of 2007. The excitement and emotion of Rocktober swept me in. It was game over—I was hooked.

I lived in Colorado until 2012 and continued to watch the Rockies and over those years it felt like they were on the edge of being competitive, but they just could not get over the hump.

After moving away in 2012 I have been able to keep up with the rockies via, Purple Row, and the Purple Dinosaur Podcast. In today's world it is so much easier to follow a non-local baseball team.

As you know the last few years have been tough, but with all of the great coverage available it was easy to see the team was on the upswing. When you struggle with a team through incompetence, and rebuilding it is much more fun when they start to succeed.

Those fans who parachute in during the good times but check out during the bad times do not get to experience the same joy as those of us who stuck it out.

-Thomas N.

Thomas is a loyal follower on Twitter and I could never call him a bandwagon fan. The second you stick it out for a bad season, you’re one of us.

Thomas makes one of my favorite points. This idea that we’ve seen the worst, so the best feels that much better. We saw Jair Jurrjens and Gonzalez Germen make spot starts and a bullpen that tried to convince us Justin Miller and Simon Castro were good enough to compete. For all these moments now, these moments where the Rockies bullpen calmly finishes another inning, we were there when they didn’t, we were there when every night was another depressing disappointment.

That’s why it matters to us. Because we know what it feels like to suck.

I grew up in Colorado, playing baseball almost year-round. I attended the first Rockies game at Mile High, and had multiple family members own season tickets once Coors Field opened up. So I'm definitely a traditional homer, but in 2007 my relationship with the team went up a level.

My girlfriend of two years (and the first girl I ever loved) broke up with me right before we left for summer break (I was a sophomore in college). I came back to Colorado (I went to UMass), and this was the first summer that most of my friends had left the state, so I had no one to hang out with, a crappy job that sucked the life out of me, and I came home to a dysfunctional home life every day. In short, I was miserable, and watching the Rockies every night was the only solace I found. They saved my sanity that summer, and when I went back to UMass in September, I became something of a mild celebrity as they won 13 of 14 to close the season and catch the Padres. I remember one party vividly after they lost their one game in that stretch and it seemed like the dream was over, and I had people I didn't even know coming up to me to say how sorry they were, and how fun it would have been had they continued that run. Fast-forward to the tiebreaker game, and that is the only noise complaint I ever received in my 4 years in college, and boy did I deserve it. Game 2 of the 2007 World Series fell on my 21st birthday, and the last thing I remember from that game is Matt Holliday getting picked off by Curt Schilling in the late innings. That series also lessened the ribbing I would get from of a lot of my friends from Boston, as they realized that they weren't the only hardcore baseball fans on the planet. Looking back, I can earnestly say that 2007 team tangibly changed my life for the better.

-Jacob W

How can you not get romantic about baseball?

For Jacob, for a lot of us, sports can be the constant we need when the world becomes too much.

It’s tough for me to explain to people that don’t like sports why I care so much. But stories like Jacob’s are beautiful reminders that these games can matter for real reasons. We aren’t just wasting our time here. The feeling we get from baseball is a feeling everyone searches for. When Jacob’s life was down, the Rockies picked him up. That’s not something to scoff at or worry about: it’s a beautiful moment in our humanity. It’s finding your soul.

My dad took me to my first baseball game at Blake and 20th when I was 10. I was geared up face painted with a glove and a sign that said "hit it here Helton" with a bulls eye. I find it very funny to this day that I didn't realize at the time that the seats were Rockpile and the ball would have never landed up there. I can still remember Atkins hit a grand slam over the Astros in the later innings to put us ahead and eventually win the game. The reason that it’s such an important thing to me is my dad and I have only gone together to Rockies games when they have won. It’s our one emotional connection we mutually share. He follows the Rockies when they are good and can tell me all the players/stats. When they are bad we rarely talk in general. So for me the Rockies winning means my dad talks to me more.

-Michael N

The Rockies now have responsibility to be good to keep Michael and his father close.

But this is important. Sports are relationships. Some of my best friends and I simply exchange “we’re good” texts when the Rockies are winning. Some of my best memories in my life have been going to games with friends and family. I remember watching the Padres kick the Rockies ass in 2005 with my grandfather. I remember sitting club level with my parents in 1997 as Ellis Burks popped out to end a game. I remember Dante Bichette walk offs and sweeping the Yankees in 2007. These memories sustain relationships.

The Rockies being good brings us together.

The Rockies being good matters to me because I—along with others—saw this coming.

I started writing about the Rockies regularly in the midst of some of the worst teams in franchise history. However, there were those of us who saw the long-term major league assets and the rising tide of prospects slowly climbing through the system and saw hope. In 2014, I told people the 2016 would represent the opening of a window of contention for the team. Shortly thereafter I tempered that a little to say 2017 was going to be the “turn the corner” year. Then the Rockies were above .500 at the trade deadline last year and even offered encouraging signs through the eventual collapse.

Now, at 31-18 and 1.5 games back from the best record in baseball heading into the Memorial Day weekend, the vindication feels oh so sweet.

-Adam P (Purple Row Editor)

This is big for those that have stuck around. The idea that things will get better when you’re dealing with a franchise like the Rockies is a tough one to hold. For two and a half decades the Rockies have bungled just about every opportunity they’ve had to be great.

But this time always felt different. The farm wasn’t just top heavy, it was deep. It wasn’t just David Dahl and Jon Gray, it was Pat Valaika and Jeff Hoffman and German Marquez. It was trades that didn’t seem to be a big deal turning into huge pickups. It was depth players showing value. It always felt different.

This is just vindication for those that saw that, and it always feels good to be proven right.

As embarrassing as it might be to say, I care so much about the Rockies winning because of a baseball fan's little-brother complex. The opinion of Rockies fans and Denver as a baseball city is condescending.

We don't really know or care about baseball, they say. We just like getting drunk on a rooftop and watching homers. We have no history. We have no nuanced understanding of the game. Etc.

This comes from all angles. National sports media, local sports radio, rival fans, even rival teams that complain about Coors and can't give a good team, or even good players, credit. If Arenado was in SF or LA or NY or StL or CHI or BAL or TX, he'd be a household name.

But what they don't realize is we've grown up with this team. We have two decades of highs and lows and heartbreak and legendary moments. There is a real baseball culture in Denver that is overlooked, or even mocked, by most outside of it (and some Cubs fans inside of it).

So the Rockies winning and looking like an honest-to-God solid contender, is validation. I may hate the Dodgers and Giants and Cardinals and Cubs fans that look down their noses, but dammit if I don't crave their recognition.

-Kyle C

This is a big one.

The Rockies have spent the better part of 25 seasons struggling for entire summers at a time. Despite this, fans have still showed up to the ballpark. Instead of constructing a narrative that the fanbase is loyal or passionate, the narrative has been that we aren’t good fans. That we’ll support any pile of crap they put on the field. That the fans on the rooftop are the problem.

These are the words of cynical goons. People who always have to hold themselves higher than strangers they’ll never speak to. The idea that Rockies fans aren’t passionate or loyal is one constructed in laziness. You didn’t want to take the time to find us, so you just assumed we don’t exist.

These stories of why this matters are found in every fan base, these origin stories of fathers and ex-girlfriends are in every city in America and they make up the backbone of every fan base. But Rockies fans allegedly don’t exist. Or, if they do, they’re just one of those people who wanted to get drunk at Coors Field.

Maybe that’s why it matters so much to us. In all of these stories and experiences, we have people who stuck around. We are here now, yes, but we were here when it wasn’t so good to be. We were here when nobody thought we were.

The Rockies are good now and that matters to us. It matters because people are paying attention, it matters because it is hard to stick through bad times, it matters because when everyone else left, we didn’t. This isn’t rational, it’s sometimes foolish, but we were here and that matters.

In the coming months, Coors Field will be full of people. Some will accuse us all of bandwagoning, some will attempt to discredit a fan base that suddenly has something to cheer for. But it’s only because they weren’t looking for us before. It’s only because they didn’t want to be bothered with finding us.

Here we are. You’ve found us. We’ve been here the whole time.

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