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2002: Diary of a Season
Rockies 11, Diamondbacks 7 (Red Sox 13, Orioles 2)
Unlike a trip to Fenway, there is no problem walking up to the Rockies' ticket office on the day of a game and getting a decent seat. They had some very inexpensive options for the bleachers, but they are benches without seat-backs. (I find that barbaric for a so-called Major League modern stadium - and this coming from one who squashes regularly into Fenway's tiny seats.) Instead, I opted for an upper-deck seat on the third base side so I'd have a clear view of the out-of-town scoreboard. The Red Sox were in Baltimore, and Pedro was going for his 20th win. I arrived at 11:30 Mountain Time, which was when the game in Baltimore was getting underway. Since there was no outside-the-ballpark atmnosphere (just one lone man trying to sell his ticket) I went right in. I was disappointed to see that no out-of-town scores were posted yet. I wandered around the lower deck, then went upstairs. Coors Field looks like every other 90's "mallpark." It's basically Turner Field but with green seats (and thankfully no gimmicky cartoon characters or face-painters). There is a row of purple seats almost all the way back in the upper deck which is exactly one mile above sea level, so I went up and took the obligatory pictures.
My seat was closer than the mile-high row, but when the game started, I moved down near the front of the upper deck section I was in, because there was barely anyone around my real seat. I was at the game by myself, because I was on a trip for work, but I needed to at least sit near other people. Knowing that they were playing the Diamondbacks, I thought it would be fun to watch Randy Johnson or Curt Schilling pitch. When I realized it wouldn't be either of them, I hoped for a classic Colorado-style game with lots of tape-measure home runs. The scoring got underway in the home half of the first. Jay Payton singled and Todd Helton walked, when Greg Norton hit a ground ball to second. Second baseman Junior Spivey took a long time to field it, and Payton was able to score from second while Norton wound up on first. I thought it would be funny if my trip to the thin air of Coors Field produced a 1-0 win where the lone run scored on an infield hit.
The Red Sox score was finally posted, and it was 3-2, Boston, in the fourth. I hadn't missed too much. Meanwhile the Rockies added to their lead with two more runs (still no homers) in the second. Arizona got on the board with a six-run third inning which included five doubles. Colorado made it 6-5 with two more runs in the fourth, while the Red Sox pulled ahead to 6-2, then increased their lead to 8-2, then 9-2. With the Rockies down by only one run, they got a couple of people on base, and Larry Walker, one of their best hitters, came up. Without even realizing it, I started clapping rhythmically, like we always do when we want a rally - but I stopped as soon as I noticed I was the only one clapping. The next batter, Todd Helton, ended up hitting a three-run homer (but not a huge blast, just an opposite-field one that barely cleared the fence) to give the Rockies an 8-6 lead, and then everyone cheered. At last, the Boston score went final, 13-2! I called home to get the details. Pedro had indeed won his 20th game, and Johnny Damon, Nomar Garciaparra, Cliff Floyd, and Trot Nixon had all homered, without the benefit of thin air.
At Fenway, (and I thought, at most places) if a foul ball goes into the luxury boxes and gets dropped, it's a generally accepted fact that the fan who bobbles it is going to get booed. (I've even heard people brag about it: "It was cool. I was so close, and it popped right out of my hand, and of course everyone booed me.") So I found it amusing that when a foul ball was hit into the club level and dropped, there was a sympathetic "Awwww..." from the crowd instead of a chorus of boos.
In the top of the eighth, the Diamondbacks scored another run to make it 8-7, but the Rockies scored three more in the bottom of the inning, and Jose Jimenez closed it out in the ninth. On the way out, I passed a series of posters commemorating the Rockies' 10-year history. They had pictures of important players in Colorado history, like Larry Walker, Todd Helton - and Terry Shumpert! I tried not to laugh, remembering Shumpert's stint as a backup infielder with the Red Sox in 1995. Now here he was, one of the prominent figures in the long, rich history of the Colorado Rockies!
It was a nice, sunny day and an interesting game. The park was clean, the seats all had cupholders, and there were escalators going to the upper deck that reverse and go down at the end of the game. But I was glad I'd be able to go back home to Fenway, look up at the 90th Anniversary logo on the Green Monster, see the "9" mowed into left field, and sit among a crowd of crazy fans. That's what baseball's all about!
At Coors, I couldn't see the bullpens for the trees!
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