Saturday, April 11, 2009

Las Vegas 51s 6 at Colorado Springs Sky Sox 9 - April 9, 2009

Thursday was opening day for the minor leagues of baseball. As luck would have it, 60 miles south of Denver lies Colorado Springs, home of the Sky Sox, AAA affiliate of the Rockies. Even luckier, they were to play at home that night, against the Las Vegas 51s. Luckiest of all, Las Vegas was beginning their affiliation with the Blue Jays and this would be their first game. OK, luck had nothing to do with it, I had planned the entire Denver trip around this game. It was a big deal for me to see the baby Jays in their first game playing for a PCL team, so I headed down I-25 to Security Service Field.

Coolest Scorecard Ever

Meg joined me for the game, and we met in the parking lot a few minutes before the gates opened. Despite it being opening day, there were few fans there, mainly because it was so cold. I mean really cold. Game time temperature was around 45 and it became colder as the game progressed. So only the diehards were out. But this made it easy to get good seats, so we picked up a pair a few rows above the Las Vegas dugout, where I could cheer the 51s all game long.

No fans due to cold cold cold

One of the interesting aspects of Security Service Field is that the visiting teams dressing room is actually on the concourse level and the players have to walk down the steps to the field. This gives autograph seekers easy access to the players as they make their way out for warmups. Personally, I am not one to collect autographs, but I had a brilliant idea for this historic game. I knew the Las Vegas starting nine as the lineups are posted by the entrance and Meg had duly copied them down for me. So I decided to ask the players to sign my scorecard, placing their autographs in their spot in the batting order. Joe Inglett (pictured below on third base), who should be called up shortly, was the lead off hitter, so I asked him to sign the first spot on the scorecard. He did so, and then I spent the next 20 minutes or so getting the remaining starters to sign. Every player who I asked was kind enough to sign in their proper spot, but I wasn't able to get catcher J.P. Arencibia, who was warming up in the bullpen. Still, getting 8 out of 9 starters for their first game as the 51s gives me the coolest scorecard I've ever had. And I'll have to see them play again, if only to get J.P. to complete the lineup.

Opening Day Ceremonies

The presentation of the colours was accompanied by a bagpipe band. As they stood behind second base, the PA announcer asked for a moment of silence to remember Nick Adenhart, the Angels' starter who had been killed that morning in a car accident. After a few seconds of quiet, the bagpipes began to play Amazing Grace, a beautiful, haunting rendition that lasted several minutes. It was a fitting tribute and I was impressed with the Sky Sox staff who were able to arrange it on short notice.

I'm famous

While we were walking to our seats, we were accosted by a news crew from a local station. They were obviously asking people about being there for opening day, but I think I caught them off guard by saying that I was rooting for Las Vegas because I am from Canada (naturally they did not catch the Blue Jays-51s connection). But they did ask how we felt about opening day, and I said something cliched about being excited to start a new season. The interview was fairly quick and I promptly forgot about it in the autograph frenzy, but Meg remember and checked the website when she got home. Sure enough, I was quoted and am now famous throughout Colorado.

Las Vegas loses lead

The 51s got off to a good start, scoring 2 in the first inning, and eventually building a 5-1 lead through 3 innings. But 51s' starter Wade Miller lost his command in the 4th and walked in a couple of runs. The bullpen couldn't do much better and the Sky Sox won the game 9-6. The game was 3:14, which was far too long given the weather, which was around freezing by the time the game ended.

Even worse than Las Vegas losing was Colorado Springs scoring 9 runs. This is because there is a promotion where you can get a 12-inch pizza for $3.99 from Dominos if 10 runs are scored. This offer is only good the following day, but I was going to be in Colorado Springs and there was a Dominos right next to the hotel. Of course, the Las Vegas bullpen couldn't just give up an extra run for me, so I went back to the hotel doubly unhappy, and without feeling in my fingers or toes for good measure.

Tomorrow I was planning to watch game 2 in the series, but after finding out that Cole Hamels was scheduled to start for the Phillies in the Rockies home opener (a day game!) I've decided that one day in chilly Colorado Springs is enough and I'll be returning to Denver tomorrow. Updates will be posted here, so stay tuned.




  1. Quoted in a newspaper? Can I have your autograph?

  2. Send a self-addressed stamped envelope to my agent please :-)