Monday, September 15, 2008

Deathtour~!: Coors Field, Colorado

When I labeled this cross-country journey to ballparks from coast to coast the “Deathtour” it was a tongue in cheek phrase intended to poke fun at my 30 ballparks or bust attitude towards this wacky adventure. It was never meant to be taken seriously. But the word “Deathtour” could not be a more appropriate today. With just a few games left in the season I took off for what was my last scheduled road trip to 4 midwest cities: Denver, Houston, Arlington and Kansas City. Mother Nature had already altered my plans just days before my departure in shutting down the city of Houston. The day before I left for Denver I could tell I was coming down with some virus.

By the time I got to Denver I was running a high fever. I haven’t been this sick in a long time. I have no business being out the house let alone flying to another state for a baseball game. And the altitude isn’t doing any favors for my health I’m sure. I’m feeling worse by the minute. There’s a good chance I won’t make it through the game.

Coors Field is only a short walk from my downtown hotel which couldn’t be more important tonight. It’s surrounded by upscale restaurants and businesses and blends in beautifully with the brick facing. To my surprise there’s a sizable walk up crowd for the game and plenty of Dodger fans.

Coors Field has $4 seats in center field. That’s one of the best deals in baseball but I need to sit in the shade so I buy a ticket for the third base reserved.

I don’t know if it’s the altitude or this disease that’s ravaging my body but I just got winded walking up a flight of stairs to the upper deck. I just hope I don’t collapse.

The Rockies and Dodgers are playing a twilight game tonight so I got here just in time for the start of the game. This is great news for me although in my near delirious state I didn’t check the first pitch ahead of time so it’s a complete accident I’m here on time.

I barely have time to fill in my scorecard when Manny Ramirez, wearing a number that has no business being on a baseball uniform, hits a double to right. Manny gets the superstar heel reaction from the crowd along with some applause from the Dodger fans. If I could I’d be right with those Rockies fans. I just don’t have a voice for it.

I had plans to walk up to the top of the stadium but thought better of it. Near the top is a row of seats colored purple. This row is exactly 1 mile above sea level (or so they say).

The Rockies are one of those teams that have no retired numbers, aside from the league retired #42, but that will change eventually, perhaps within the next decade. I would be shocked if Todd Helton doesn’t receive the honor of being the inaugural selection. He’s injured right now, but I’ve seen hundreds of number 17 jerseys in the stands.

The Rockpile in centerfield. And below that, a rock pile in centerfield.

Just missed catching a foul ball, or in this case being hit by one as I can barely move. I've seen far more line drives hit into the upper deck here than anywhere. Not surprising given where I am.

The Rockies may be the only professional team with a female mascot. Okay, so maybe Dinger isn’t a girl dinosaur, but that was my initial reaction when I saw him/her/it.

Meanwhile, in the game I’m barely able to pay attention to, the Dodgers have opened up a 4-1 lead in the fourth. Ramirez strikes out swinging for the second time to end the rally.

The game becomes official at around 7:45 and with great sadness I decide I’ve had enough. In the words of Kimbo Slice, “I’m done, Gus.” I take one last lap around the field to enjoy the bleachers, the bullpen and hand operated scoreboard. Coors Field is a great looking ballpark. I only regret not being well enough to enjoy it properly.

After exiting the stadium I take one last look at the lone statue outside the Home Plate gate. But it's not a statue of a Rockie player, it's a statue of a generic baseball player.

Next up is Arlington…hopefully.

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