A trip to the ballpark is always a special yet soothing occasion. A good conversation can be had while some exceptional professionals play a great game and with Coors Field’s hitter-friendly set-up, any game can turn into an exhilarating slugfest full of home runs, making it one of the most exciting parks in baseball.
For a recent Saturday night game, I went to the park with a fellow RealSport writer, Stephen Gossman. Even with a rather ordinary 11 runs scored between the Colorado Rockies and their opponents, the Cincinnati Reds, the game still turned into a mostly delightful evening.
Normally, getting to the ballpark should be like a flight to a vacation in the Caribbean: it should not be one of the eventful parts of the trip. But for me, getting to Coors Field turned into an experience. I opted to use Denver’s public transport to get to the ballpark since it costs significantly less than driving and parking near the stadium but when I arrived at the Colorado Boulevard Station, the E-line train, scheduled to arrive that minute, did not show. Then the next E-line train did not show. Anyone could have safely lain on the northbound tracks towards Union Station as no trains arrived. According to other people waiting at the stop, there had been a security or a ticket issue with a passenger on a train further down the line.
With the train no longer an option, I drove closer into town and parked for the exceedingly empty and soon-to-be-renamed Sports Authority Field Station, further along the E-line. In the shadow of the Denver Broncos’ stadium, I began the walk to Coors Field but forgot the one rule of Lodo, the neighborhood that both stadiums call home: it is a grid in the shape of a triangle. Thinking it was a square, I ended walking towards the Colorado State Capitol instead of Coors Field. After Stephen helped me realize my mistake, he came by in a Pedicab which took us up to the stadium.
Stephen and I sat in our seats along the left field line just moments before Rockies’ starter Tyler Anderson threw the first pitch of the night. We had hardly settled down before Reds second baseman Scooter Gennett stunned everyone in the stadium in cranking a home run over the right-field fence. He would continue to buzz irritatingly around the Rockies heads, as he would have a five-hit night and made the most important defensive play of the game, but more on that later.
David Dahl would give the Rockies a 2-1 lead in the third when he hit an unstoppable laser over Reds’ center fielder Billy Hamilton for a two-run double, but the lead did not last long. In Tony Cruz’s first at-bat, Stephen pointed out that even though he is not a spectacular hitter, he has some raw power. In his second at-bat in the fourth inning, Cruz launched a no-doubter home run into the left-field seats.
Even as a Rockies fan, I must admit that Billy Hamilton produced the most exciting moment of the night. In the top of the seventh, with Reds’ right fielder Scott Schebler on first and Chris Rusin now pitching for the Rockies, Hamilton hit a ball in the left-field gap. With Hamilton’s speed, nobody doubted that Hamilton would have a triple. But as he rounded second, the anticipation grew. The Rockies were slow in getting to the ball, and Hamilton noticed. He dug in and spurred himself on to run even faster. He traveled at a sublime yet frightening speed. He approached third with no intention of stopping, but the Reds’ third base coach had both his hands up, imploring him to stop. Hamilton listened, and moments later, the ball bounced into home plate, but Hamilton had everyone, Rockies’ and Reds’ fans alike, clenching onto the end of their seats.
By the start of the bottom of the ninth, the Reds had a 6-5 lead. But after a Ryan McMahon single, a Chris Iannetta double, and a Carlos Gonzalez walk, the Rockies had the bases loaded with nobody out. Charlie Blackmon came up to the plate, and the anticipation was palpable. The Rockies were expected to score. Sadly, Blackmon rolled over on a ball and hit a soft grounder to first baseman Joey Votto, who threw it home. Even though Tony Cruz bobbled the catch, he still collected the ball in time to make the force out at home. Even with one out, all of us Rockies fans remained optimistic. David Dahl was at the plate, and he had absolutely crushed a ball earlier in the day and did so again in this at-bat. Only this time, he hit a line drive to Scooter Gennett. The Reds’ second baseman drove to his right and made a terrific catch. Carlos Gonzalez had wandered off second a bit too far after Dahl made contact, allowing Gennett to flip the ball to second for a game-ending double play. Just like that, Gennett had once again stunned the Rockies, this time by popping the balloon of anticipation of an almost certain Rockies win.
I have witnessed several gut-wrenching losses in Denver sports. I sat in the south end zone stands on a certain miserably cold January day when Joe Flacco tossed a football over Raheem Moore’s head into Jacoby Jones’ hands for the Mile High Miracle. I still remember the spot in my living room where I stood for Troy Tulowitzki’s underwhelming at-bats in the bottom of the ninth with two runners on and two outs in Games 3 and 4 against the Philadelphia Phillies of the 2009 NLDS. Saturday night’s game did not hurt nearly as much. For one, the Rockies got to play the next day to further contribute to the story of the 2018 season, but this game reaffirmed an important lesson about sports: your team will sometimes disappoint you, and you can do nothing about it. But all you can do is forgive and try to forget, and I still want the Colorado Rockies to win baseball games.