Another great roadtrip is in the books, with three new parks being checked off the list. Over the next few days you’ll marvel at the food, fun, quirks, and yes, even baseball that I encountered while away, which will hopefully inspire a baseball roadtrip of your own now that summer has officially arrived. First stop, Denver and the Colorado Rockies!
Since opening in 1995, Denver’s Coors Field (oddly enough, now the third oldest park in the NL) is a wonderful throwback style park, the highlight of the LoDo section of the city. What I noticed immediately was their attention to their own history, both inside and outside the park, with banners and such commemorating the many awards players have won while playing for the Rockies. For a team that has only been around since 1993, it’s a great way to recognize the many great players that have suited up for the home team.
While I had intended to represent the Montreal Expos by wearing both a shirt and hat, earlier that day I had stumbled upon cheap officially licensed Rockies shirts at a Burlington location and couldn’t resist. Happy to say that as usual, I got several shout-outs for my Expos hat, and had a great conversation with Guest Services, discussing my strong beliefs concerning baseball’s return to Montreal.
As is typical for anytime I visit a new park, I did a full circle of the lower level, before heading to the top. Naturally the view of the surrounding Rocky Mountains is a site to behold, and the purple row of seats across the top to signify being a mile above sea-level is a great touch. And despite finding a smoking section in the park, there’s no getting “Rocky Mountain High” at Coors Field, haha.
It was dollar hot dog night a the park that evening, so admittedly I did not venture into much more than that, although the Rocky Mountain Oysters were an easy pass. As is always the case, I did need to get an Ice Cream Helmet, and I loved the Menchies-like Frozen Yogurt booth, where you serve yourself, with tons of flavors and toppings to choose from. A must while enjoying the views of the best batter’s eye in the majors.
The Rockies themselves have been incredible this year, with their normally potent offense performing just as well on the road. The race in the NL West has been surprising so far, as I expected LA and Colorado to be neck and neck, but the shocking emergence of Arizona has made it a three team race, and very likely that all three make it to the postseason, barring some incredible dropoff.
Personally I was excited to see both newly acquired former Nat, Ian Desmond, as well as former ninth overall pick, Jeff Hoffman. Quick rant. Why the heck do you trade a declining, often injured and very expensive Shortstop for an slightly less declining, often injured and even more expensive Shortstop in the first place? But to throw in your top round drafted pitcher as well? Of course I’m talking about the Jose Reyes-Troy Tulowitzki trade from a few summers ago, that somehow Hoffman ended up being a part of. Didn’t the Blue Jays learn their lesson when they gave up a young, controllable, fabulously haired Noah Syndergaard for an aging knuckleballer? Rant over.
The game itself was exactly what I had hoped for, as it relates to offense. By the fourth inning, the Rockies had already shelled Dodgers pitcher, former KBO Hanwha Eagle, Hyun-Jin Ryu for 10 runs. But as the old saying goes, no lead is safe at Coors Field, and in the middle and late innings, the Dodgers started pecking away at the lead, while the Rockies’ offense slowed down.
Seems like a perfect time to mention the mascot race. While some teams have foods famous in their region, corporate sponsored mascots, or even giant headed legends from their past, the Rockies went with oral hygiene. We’ve got Toothy the Tooth, Bristles the Brush, and Fresh the Toothpaste. Honestly I’m torn on this one. On the one hand, I admire how unique and creative it is, on the other hand…well, it just doesn’t hold the same appeal to me as Teddy Roosevelt or Jalapeno Hannah. But, at the very least, kudos to the Rockies for having a mascot race to begin with, and I’d wager to say that four out of five dentists would agree with that.
Back to the game, and the Dodgers’ comeback was in full swing, as they had cut the lead to 5 by the 9th inning, quickly scoring once, and then loading the bases, forcing the Rockies to turn to closer, Greg Holland. Chase Utley grounded into a huge double play to make it 10-7, and Holland struck out Yasiel Puig to end the game and send the home fans home happy.
A fantastic end to a great game, in a fun city. The Rockies have something special this season, and could finally win their first NL West title if they keep playing at this level. It makes Matt circa 1995 very happy, as I had a weird fascination with the old Blake Street Bombers teams, despite rarely being able to watch them. Overall, Coors Field is an excellent venue for a game, but sadly I was only able to stay for the night, pick up a copy of the Denver Post the next day, and make the 8 hour drive to my next destination, Kansas City!