Saturday, April 11, 2009

Philadelphia Phillies 3 at Colorado Rockies 10 - April 10, 2009

Change of Plans

As mentioned in the previous post, I'd had enough of Colorado Springs after one cold game. With the Rockies home opener scheduled for Friday afternoon, the weather forecast calling for a partly sunny day, and Cole Hamels starting for the visiting Phillies, it was a no-brainer to drive back to Denver. Meg was more than happy to join me for the game, as she was taking the day off from work (despite it being Good Friday, many companies were still working normally, which really suprised me).

So I headed north on I-25, stopping in to pick her up, and we returned to the light rail station, where I knew I could park for free. A quick ride downtown and a transfer to the free Mall Ride brought us close to Coors Field, where the crowd was building in anticipation. The bars around the ballpark were packed, and not surprisingly, tickets were sold out. There weren't even single tickets available, nor was standing room being offered. We'd have to resort to scalpers if we wanted to see the game.

Outside Coors Field

Joel's Hot Dog Stand

Fortunately luck was on our side. Meg has a routine she follows when she goes to a Rockies game. In order to avoid purchasing overpriced food inside the ballpark, she stops by a hot dog stand at the corner of Wynkoop and 19th. Joel is the owner, and he offers hot dogs for $1.50, chips for $1, and soda for $1.50. A special gets you 2 dogs, chips, and a soda for $5, cheaper than one hot dog inside the stadium. There was a huge lineup but as we had plenty of time, we took our place at the end and slowly inched forward, stomachs grumbling in anticipation. We noticed a couple of guys walk by with two tickets held high, the universal sign of someone trying to get rid of extra seats. I chased them down and found their tickets were located above the bullpen, and all they wanted was face value ($50, a bit high, but it was opening day). Meg agreed, so we bought the tickets, relieved that we were going to get in. We also got our dogs (delicious and highly recommended!) and then entered the ballpark.

It had been 8 years since I last visited Coors, and it has been well-maintained. It's hard to believe that it is currently the 4th oldest ballpark in the National League, and once Florida has their new stadium in 2012, Coors will be younger than only Wrigley and Dodger Stadium. Today, the field was sparkling in the sunshine and the stadium looked brand new. Well-done to the grounds crew and other staff who had a hand in keeping the ballpark in tip-top shape.

Opening Ceremonies

The opening ceremonies began with representatives from the 5 branches of the military walking out on the field to present the colours. As well, there was a large American flag that was rolled up and carried out by more military personnel. The players, coaches, and staff from each team were then introduced, with each team lining up in front of its dugout as is the custom. There was then a moment of silence to remember Nick Adenhart. The national anthem was then sung and at that time, the giant flag was unfurled, making for an incredible sight. Then 4 F16s flew over, although I couldn't see them from my spot beneath the upper deck overhang. When the anthem ended, a bunch of balloons in Rockies' colours were released (see the picture below), and as they floated off into the sky, it was time to play ball! A great welcome to the season from the Rockies!

Hamels weak

If you're a baseball fan, you'll know that Cole Hamels (pictured here warming up) did not have a good game, giving up 7 runs in just over 3 innings. His poor performance immediately led to speculation that he was hiding an injury, but he says he always starts slow, so we'll see what happens. His teammates weren't much better, as Jason Marquis pitched 7 strong innings, giving up only 5 hits and adding 2 of his own at the plate. The sun was out for most of the game, and made a huge difference in temperatures - our seats were in the shade for the first few innings, with the sun tantalizingly close, just two rows in front of us. While we sat huddled in jackets, those lucky enough to have the sun on them basked in short sleeves. Fortunately the rotation of the earth continued unabated and we were soon drenched in sunlight ourselves, about the same time that Hamels was being shown the showers. I'd guess the temperature rose about 10 degreees in those few minutes, and we enjoyed the rest of the game as the Rockies cruised to an easy 10-3 win, sending the sold out crowd home happy.

Jason Marquis throws the first pitch to Jimmy Rollins

Fun crowd before, during, and after the game

One of the best aspects of the road trip is meeting so many new people. Today was no different as we enjoyed the antics of the people sitting around us for most of the game. One lady dropped her fully-laden hot dog, smearing mustard all over herself. For the rest of the afternoon, she was teased mercilessly by the guy behind her, who insisted that she was responsible for all spills in our section. OK, you had to be there, but it was funny. And she was good natured, and bought him a beer for his troubles.

On the Light Rail back, we encountered an energetic group of young people who had perhaps consumed one too many. The interesting thing is that is was the women in the group who were loud and boisterous while the guys sat quietly by, regretting their decision to be the designated drivers. The ladies were generous with their food, offering some Hot Tamales with the warning that they are "really, really HOT!" I tried some and respectfully disagreed, but I don't think that they really cared by then. After they disembarked, the train was eerily quiet as we reflected on a long and interesting day. Tomorrow sees two more games, the Avalanche host the Canucks in the afternoon and the Rockies play the Phillies in the evening. Check in for an update then!



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