April 6, 2023



Home Opener, 2019. Not much has changed since. 


Unsurprisingly, the Rockies will take to the field -- Coors Field -- for their home opener Thursday afternoon with a lackluster 2-4 record after starting the season with series at San Diego and Los Angeles.


The home opener long ago became a second St. Patrick's Day in Lodo, meaning it's wise to assess the odds of the fans behind you getting sick in the fourth inning-- and being wary of it, if appropriate. 


Beyond that, I'm all in.


In 2023, the home opener is about, or at least should be about ...


-- Bunting ... and I don't mean laying one down to move over the runner.  The red, white and blue banners.  If they're not there, something is amiss.   


-- Rosters lining up on the foul lines, doffing caps and waving.


-- Remembering that cash doesn't work at the concession stands ... and that the Colorado microbrews are worth the price. No mattter what the cost is this season.


-- Keeping score, at least for two innings before giving up.  (And discussing with those around you why the shortstop is "6" and the third baseman is "5.")


-- Actually singing along, with exceptional enthusiasm, with "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" and getting the lyrics right. (It's "Cracker Jack," not "Jacks.")



Dick and Karen Monfort at the 2019 home opener. 


-- Monitoring the pitch clock and concluding that it's working. Already. (Now if MLB can avoid allowing enforcement to become lax, as has happened with other innovative new rules in other sports.)


-- Arguing over whether the Rockies' 30th anniversary logo is appropriate in their 31st season.


-- Sarcastically asking the fans in Nationals jerseys when they're flying back to Washington. Yes, that phenomenon is more aggravating when the opponent is the Cubs, Cardinals or Dodgers. St. Louis -- and Nolan Arenado -- will be in for the next series in the homestand. But those who seem to believe the opposing-team phenomenon isn't noticeable to some degree at other stadiums and arenas are off-base. 

-- Trying to tell whether it's a 2-seam or 4-seam fastball. (Bluffing works, too.)   


Here in Colorado, senses of defensiveness or defiance also come in to play. Whether on Thursday or through the season, we hear it said that we're saps for going to the park.


For visiting The Tattered Cover and the other draws in the new McGregor Square.


For patronizing the Monfort-owned franchise and not holding it to more strict accountability.


For being baseball fans while also for recognizing that the second-oldest park in the National League has held up well as a gameday experience, and giving the Rockies credit for generally being competitive and entertaining at home. Amusement park? A second Elitch's? You don't think there's a lot of that atmosphere in every park in baseball? Not everyone is confining their experience to only the intricacies between the lines. The ballpark experience -- involving the game, the teams and the setting -- is the attraction. It's fun. What's wrong with that?  


When I moved to Colorado as a Wheat Ridge High junior in early 1972, I was from a football family. But my sporting passion was baseball, and I was coming off a two-year dream on-field job as a kid with the Class AAA Eugene Emeralds, working it around my playing schedule as a crafty catcher.

A snippet: Tommy Lasorda, the Spokane Indians, and My Summer of '70.


I quickly realized that in Colorado, the fixation on landing an MLB team was relentless. After some near misses, the Rockies arrived 21 years later. By then, I working elsewhere -- Portland -- and was a member of the Professional Baseball Writers of America as I made periodic visits to the Mariners, Giants and A's, and covered a handful of World Series.


But I excitedly reacted to the arrival  of the Rockies and MLB in Denver as if I were a kid. Still. And I was back in Denver soon after that. I can't take any of that excitement for granted. I won't apologize for following them now -- in their 31st season -- or going to the park as a fan and paying customer. Sorry. I won't. 


I won't  insult you and blindly ignore the ownership and front office track record. But those are issues of competence, not finance. Spotrac lists the Rockies' payroll at $166.2 million, 15th-highest in MLB. That's slightly above the MLB average. The Rockies still are picking up $16 million of Arenado's salary this season, so that's a maddening asterisk. I'm puzzled that with the skyrocketing franchise values in sports, the Monforts don't sell and consider that huge profit part of the family legacy rather than stubbornly hang on and shrug off the high heat.   


But that's not the type of thing you think about on the day of the home opener. 



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