Today would have been Opening Day at Coors Field. I for one am glad the cold, snowy weather in Colorado matches the mood we are all in without the day that we look forward to so much.
The day won’t be a total wash however as Purple Row is hosting a virtual panel with our own Sam Bradfield talking Rockies baseball with AT&T SportsNet’s Jenny Cavnar, MLB.com’s Thomas Harding, the Denver Post’s Patrick Saunders, and KOA radio’s Jack Corrigan. Stay tuned for details on how to check it out.
In light of the holiday that today should be, in this post I am focusing on great ways to celebrate the Rockies and highlighting other stories that might make you feel better.
The Rockies are hosting a Stay at Home Opener to try to entertain and bring happiness to so many of us who are under stay-at-home orders. AT&T SportsNet and Rockies.com will be airing a special “virtual broadcast” featuring some of the best home-opener moments in Rockies history that will be commented on by former and current Rockies starting at 2 p.m. MT. Fans can look forward to a pre-game ceremony, a seventh-inning stretch, and other surprises thrown in.
On top of trying to provide the best alternative home opener possible during the COVD-19 pandemic, the Rockies are also doing this for a good cause: trying to make sure people who need food during these unprecedented closures, layoffs, and instability get it. The Rockies will be asking fans for donations and then the Rockies Foundation will be matching those donations up to $300,000. All of the proceeds will go to the Care and Share Food Bank for Southern Colorado, Community Food Share, Food Bank for Larimer County, Food Bank of the Rockies and Weld Food Bank.
Thomas Harding included Rockies owner Dick Monfort’s thoughts on the event:
“This event was a culmination of several different ideas and desires swirling around us right now. We wanted to extend our Foundation’s assistance in one of the most critical areas of need right now, and that’s in making sure people can get access to food for themselves and their families. We wanted our fans to have some sort of Opening Day here in Colorado, because it is always such a holiday for our city, state and region, and we wanted to make it a safe celebration for all. So the Rockies Foundation is very pleased to partner with the food banks in Colorado and Wyoming for this special ‘Stay at Home Opener’ Feed the Rockies fundraising event, as we team up to help our community and enjoy some baseball while we’re at it.”
In order to get ready for the big day, check out thoughts from Kyle Freeland, Scott Oberg, Tony Wolters, Jon Gray, Trevor Story, Charlie Blackmon, Daniel Murphy, and Garrett Hampson on how much they love home openers.
Here’s one more with more details on the Stay at Home Opener from Jenny Cavnar.
Nolan Arenado isn’t in Colorado. He’s stuck at his home in California, but he took some time to jump on MLB Tonight on Thursday to talk about the Stay at Home Opener. Harding wrote captured this quote from the All-Star third baseman:
“That’s what the Rockies do a great job of — they think about the fans. I know a lot of the players are thinking about it. I think it’s a great idea. I think the fans are really going to appreciate it. Baseball is a pretty selfish sport in a way. It’s really focused on us, the players, so it’s cool to give back and let them know that we’re thinking of them. That’s been the focus, and that’s been a really great thing.”
This article also talks about how Arenado hasn’t had the most success in home openers. In true Arenado fashion, he mostly remembers his mistakes and wants to improve on them. In 2014, he went 0-for-5 and made two errors in very non-Nolan like play.
Even though Arenado is missing baseball, he said he feels fortunate to have a place to hit and workout with cousin and fellow Rockie Josh Fuentes and his brother Jonah, a Giants draft pick. He’s trying to keep the right perspective, knowing that the pandemic is wreaking havoc on so many lives.
“A lot of people in this country are going through a really hard time, and that breaks my heart, so I don’t have it as bad as some people. I feel a little bad complaining. I’m just happy that I’m healthy right now and I’m just waiting, hoping we get to start the season sometime.”
This year, April Fools’ Day wasn’t very much fun. In this pandemic reality, pulling pranks and messing with people doesn’t seem like the best idea. Somehow, MLB Network and Trevor Story found a way to do it and make it work.
The speedy Story teamed up with former MLB pitcher and now analyst Dan Plesac for an MLB Network “Make Someone Smile Today” April Fools’ commercial.
Story admits he feels absolutely no guilt in stealing, bases that is, and then goes on to steal Plesac’s clothes.
In the commercial, Story says, “You can watch me steal bases on MLB Tonight.” It might be a while before we can do that, but it’s a great commercial for Story and the Rockies. As Noah Yingling reminds us, Story ranks No. 12 in Rockies history with 65 stolen bases. Fifty of those have come in the last two seasons. If we get a 2020 season, or maybe in 2021, Story just needs 19 more stolen passes to move from 12th to eighth on the all-time list.
Life as a minor leaguer is a tough one. It’s a life of poverty and grinding to try to work your way up to the big leagues. Then COVID-19 hit, MiLB has been paused, livelihoods are even more uncertain, and the future is up in the air.
Earlier this week, Major League Baseball announced that minor league players will be paid $400 a week through the end of May. In mid-March, MLB announced it would pay the minor leaguers through April 8.
Even though it’s not a huge amount, every little bit helps as the economy is reeling from the COVID-19 pandemic and over 10 million people filled for unemployment over the last two weeks.
At this point in the post, we need some good news right?
Enter Daniel Murphy.
On Wednesday, the Rockies first baseman and his family pledged $100,000 to the MiLB Family Assistance Fund set up by More Than Baseball, an organization created started before the pandemic to help minor leaguers and their families with financial assistance and financial education. Now it is also helping players and their families who are out of work and looking for help.
The Murphy family’s $100,000 gift to the @mtb_org & @ourbaseballlife MiLB Family Assistance Fund will ensure that EVERY player supporting a child or family member will receive assistance #standwithmilb— More Than Baseball (@mtb_org) April 2, 2020
You can support these players at https://t.co/lXV9llAlQf pic.twitter.com/eCRxu8Scfo
Other major leaguers like St. Louis’ Adam Wainwright and Texas’ Shin-Soo Choo have also stepped up to chip in the MiLB Family Assistance Fund.
Kiszla’s column features an interview with More Than Baseball’s founder, Jeremy Wolf, a former minor leaguer himself who struggled with poverty and hunger trying to live his dream as a baseball player in the minors. Wolf shares amazing stories of how funds from the program are really helping people like an international player who had a plane ticket to get home to Venezuela, but no money for ground transportation when he got there, a pitcher who had to get Tommy John surgery and needs help with money for groceries, and another player who is watching his wife work as an ICU nurse and just needed some help in getting food so he could make nice dinners when she gets home. More Than Baseball helped those three guys, and is continuing to help many more.
While the stories are shameful about the pay and poverty for minor leaguers, and an even more shaky and uncertain future lies ahead, what Murphy did is outstanding. And right now we need these good stories and need to see more people getting the help they need.
Rockies fans and baseball fans in general are all finding ways to cope with this the home opener vacancy and to Rockies fans, Monte Radack and Debbie Griffith, are doing it in a way that caught Patrick Saunders’ attention.
The couple are planning to sing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” today at 4 p.m. MT, which is about when the seventh inning would have been (unless things got crazy or the game had a snow delay). It’s a sweet gesture that has turned into something much more meaningful. Bank of Colorado heard about the plan and has decided to donate $5 (up to $25,000) to local hospitals for everyone who posts a video of their rendition of “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” on social media with the hashtag #BankofColorado.