Leaving behind the lap of luxury at Coors Field
DENVER – I traveled to Denver for Sunday’s Rockies game with two fellow newspaper guys. One of us was going there to write, another to shoot photos and the third just wanted to grab a beer and sit with the bleacher creatures on his day off.It was my first crack at the bigs, so I was wondering what media protocol was all about.One of my colleagues, who covered minor league baseball extensively for two seasons, gave me a friendly warning: Don’t cheer, or you’ll get kicked out of the press box.Not a problem, I figured. Yelling woo-hoo and pumping one’s fist are both voluntary acts.During all my previous trips to Coors, I was as vocal as the next guy, but I intended for things to be different on Sunday. Instead of sitting in the remote Rockpile, I found myself in the press box, some 25 rows directly above home plate.It didn’t take long for me to realize that keeping your cool in the bigs is harder than it looks.I had three goals in mind for Sunday’s game (four, if you count the home team picking up a much-needed win).I wanted to see Colorado pitcher Jeff Francis pick up his first victory of the season, I was hoping to witness Clint Barmes build on his 10-game hitting streak and I was (selfishly) fantasizing about catching my first MLB foul ball.Barmes continued his hot streak in the first inning and despite my pre-game briefing, I found myself making noise.”Yeah,” I exclaimed, prompting an array of raised eyebrows around me.My brief outburst triggered a reminder to self: Be objective. Forget about the Rockies and the vivid memory you have of witnessing last year’s wild card win over the Padres from the Rockpile. Just watch the game and zip your mouth shut.I successfully buttoned my lips the next time Barmes stepped up to the plate and smacked a solo home run to left-centerfield for a 1-0 Colorado lead (I literally parted my hands for a clap, but then caught myself before making contact).Boredom ensued after five innings in the press box. Sitting in one of the best seats in the house, drinking unlimited complimentary soft drinks and checking the Celtics/Cavaliers score on my computer in between innings was already too familiar. It was time for a stadium walkabout.It ended up being a good time for a hot dog break – I was only two or three inches into my foot-long snack when Todd Helton went yard to tie the game at two.Both mustard and horseradish flew off my dog as I cheered instinctively and uninhibited among 40,000 fans.Garrett Atkins followed up with a double off the wall and after the Rox wrapped up the sixth with a 3-2 lead, I felt a pull back to my assigned seat. Barmes came through again in the bottom of the seventh by laying down a sacrifice bunt that advanced teammates to second and third. Matt Holliday was then intentionally walked, which loaded the bases for Todd Helton. The Rockies clutch first baseman delivered a big hit, but because I was back upstairs in my office for the day, I was conditioned not to react.By the time Colorado prevailed 6-2, to win its first series since April 18-20 (over Houston), I felt fully desensitized to the big time.So standing a few feet away from Rockies manager Clint Hurdle during the post-game press conference seemed as normal as hearing from a Summit High School coach after a Tigers contest. Soliciting quotes from Todd Helton wasn’t really much different than interviewing a local athlete. Watching the closing seconds of the Celtics game on TV alongside Yorvit Torreabla was just like saddling up to the bar with friends at the Moose Jaw.My experience on Sunday made me feel more familiar with the Rockies than ever, and I can’t wait to go back to Coors field. I think I want to sit among the masses next time, where I can feel free to start up the wave if the spirit moves me.Adam Boffey can be contacted at (970) 668-4634, or at email@example.com.
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