This weekend the Colorado Rockies faced the San Francisco Giants at Coors Field. It was a four-game set that started on Thursday to open up the home stand. The four games were four of the 10 games against the Giants in Denver this year, and they accounted for four of the 19 they’ll play overall. They play the Giants a lot. And in case you haven’t heard, the Giants are a bad team this year. There are a lot of things to do in Denver, both inside the city and out, on a beautiful weekend with temperatures in the mid 80s, like this past weekend. You could forgive Denverites for skipping out on this series.
And yet, they didn’t. On Thursday night, 40,747 were in attendance for the first walk-off win of 2017—and another 46,632 on Friday, 48,035 on Saturday, and a whopping 48,341 for one of the best regular season games in Rockies history. That’s already the sixth game in 2017 with over 48,000 in attendance. There were seven games from 2014 to 2016 with that many people at Coors Field to watch the Rockies. Over 1.2 million fans have already made their way through the turnstiles at Coors Field through 34 games, which is almost halfway to last season’s 2.6 million in 81 home dates. Rockies fever is catching in Denver.
This is bound to raise some questions. Is this evidence that Denver is a baseball town nesting like a Russian matryoshka doll within the shell of a football town, just waiting for a good team to support? Does this have something to do with the booming population of the Front Range and transplants looking for ways to further build a sense of place in their new home? Or do we simply have a case of a bunch of people hopping on a bandwagon?
Ahh, there it is, the terrible nine-letter word. Accusing someone of being a “bandwagon fan” is meant as a condemnation, usually by those who have been a longtime fan of a team (or so they say), or by those who don’t like the team in question. It’s a tribal reaction, also seen in music fans (“I was a huge fan of Kings of Leon before they made it big,” your old roommate said with a sneer), that’s meant to grab some supposed superiority. Or, when used against a rival team, to imply some sort of inferiority.
The Reds did this to Cubs fans earlier this year. While it was played for laughs and (generally) good natured, it is indicative of some sort of “gatekeepers of fun” attitude. It glosses over the fact that for every Dudebro who claims to have “Always been a Cubs fan, I love seeing games at Wrigley Park!” there are surely dozens of others who have sincerely lived and breathed with every Cubs pitch for most of their lifetimes. Sure, Dudebro might be here-today-gone-tomorrow, but he also might become a fan for life.
One is people discovering something they might end up loving forever (bandwagon fans) and the other is just disdain and vitriol.— Jen Mac Ramos (@jenmacramos) June 17, 2017
Which brings us back to the Rockies. SB Nation recently made a big push for readers to write “Why I’m a Fan” FanPosts, and we got a ton of submissions here at Purple Row. I read all of them. And do you have any guesses as to which moment in Rockies history was cited more than any other? The 2007 run to the playoffs forever known as “Rocktober.” That magical stretch of games led to Coors Field being packed to the gills and made fans of people across Colorado and the world. We have proof that it made true fans out of many of you now reading this.
Did everyone who got swept into the fever that was Rocktober stick it out over the fallow years from 2011 to 2016? Of course not. You know what they missed out on? A lot of bad baseball—but also the elation that comes from seeing your team turn it around and be good. The so-called “bandwagon fan” enjoying your favorite team’s success doesn’t dampen your own enjoyment. In fact, their increasing numbers only enhances it:
I think we delight to praise what we enjoy because the praise not merely expresses but completes the enjoyment; it is its appointed consummation. It is not out of compliment that lovers keep on telling one another how beautiful they are; the delight is incomplete till it is expressed. (C.S. Lewis, Reflections on the Psalms)
When the Rockies were bad, many of us couldn’t stop talking about how good they were set up to be a few years down the line. As they’ve won game after game this year, many have been crying out for more attention from the national media. Why is this? Because “it is its appointed consummation;” our enjoyment is incomplete until we’ve shared it with others who don’t yet know of those joys.
Everyone becomes a fan somehow, and why shouldn't they become a fan of this team? Imagine Nolan’s walk-off cycle on Sunday without the huge roar from the crowd, the noise that didn’t abate for nearly ten full minutes. It would still be great and fun and wonderful, but it would’ve left us saying, “Y’all, come pay attention to the Rockies, already!”
If we play gatekeepers to the fun because we somehow think it will dampen or invalidate or cheapen our fun, we’re buying into a false “us-versus-them” superiority that paradoxically will lessen our fun. So what if they weren’t here for the hard times? They’re here now! Don’t we want them to stay?
So next time you’re at Coors Field and you’re sitting near someone who doesn’t seem to have a clue who the hairy guy in centerfield is, resist the urge to grumble and lecture and recognize the situation for the beautiful opportunity that it is. You get to be a part of this person’s education about Charlie Blackmon and the first-place Colorado Rockies. Not only are you (as a reader of this site) the one best equipped to help, but helping will actually make it more meaningful for you.