The prodigal blogger has returned, and will be posting a few notes on our recent vacation. Jayne and I spent eight days out West, mostly in Colorado with a brief sojourn in Wyoming. We spent some time with our friend Joey Bunch, a reporter for The Denver Post, and enjoyed some time in a part of the country that’s totally different from our Charlotte home.
I’ll divide this into a couple of different entries, but given my interest in sports, I thought I’d start with our trip to Coors Field for a Colorado Rockies game.
The Rockies’ home, built for Colorado’s expansion entry into the National League in 1993, is one of those first-generation “nouvelle retro” ballparks (my term, maybe it’ll catch on) built around the same time as Cleveland’s Progressive Field (formerly Jacobs) and the Texas Rangers’ Ballpark at Arlington.
It was a beautiful night in a very hospitable environment for baseball — good sightlines, wide aisles and easily accessible restrooms. (When you’re my age, things like the latter two factors become important.)
It’s a very hospitable environment for spectators, but not for pitchers. The mile-high altitude combined with hitter-friendly dimensions of the field have historically led to high-scoring games (“arena baseball,” one columnist once called it). And consequently Rockies pitchers frequently have earned run averages that look like the price of steak. The game we saw, against the Houston Astros on a Wednesday night, ran true to form. The Rockies trailed Houston 13-3 late, but came back to make it a game before losing, 15-11. Good story line if I had been writing the game — Mike Hampton, who was a high-priced failure for Colorado when he signed as a free agent in the early part of this decade, was the winning pitcher for the Astros.
The only negative aspect of the evening for us was the price tag. Having been a baseball fan for a long time, I was sort of prepared. But it had been four years since I had been to a major league baseball game, longer than that for Jayne. And the difference between major league and minor league prices is staggering. (If you’re near a minor league baseball team, you should not take for granted that value-priced entertainment.)
Here’s a partial accounting: parking $20, but it was across the street from the ballpark; tickets, $40 each for midway up in the lower level, right field line. That was partially offset by a $10 concession stands credit for each ticket — which goes a long way when you don’t buy the $6.50 beer and the $6 hot dog. Biggest bargain was the $1.50 scorecard, which is mandatory for this blogger.
A modest crowd of 19,226 saw the game between two struggling sub-.500 teams, and the Rockies certainly weren’t the biggest sports news in town while we were there. The NBA Denver Nuggets finished off a contentious playoff series with the Dallas Mavericks during our visit, and the NHL Avalanche, even though they’re out of the playoffs, were in the news with a rumored coaching change — goaltending legend Patrick Roy for current coach Tony Granato. (Still hasn’t happened.)
But on this night, for us, it was baseball that really mattered.