It is nearly 11.30PM Central here in Thornton, CO, and I have just gotten back at my friends Matt and Beth’s place from watching a really fun game with a lot of milestones .I’ve got a ton of photos to share, and I am running up against the sleep clock right now, so here goes nothing.
I’d purchased two tickets for the lower deck for tonight, which Matt and I had planned to go to, then three tickets for tomorrow’s (or today’s depending on when you read this) game up in the mile high row, and Beth will be joining us; but tonight, Beth thoughtfully dropped Matt and I off at the stadium so we wouldn’t have to drive or worry about parking. We got out of the car at the home plate entrance and started looking for either the A or E entrances so we could get in the gates early. I got super excited on the overpass to Blake Street and started taking pictures.
From home plate, we walked along the third base side of the field to the E gates, which were the early entry gates, and just hung out and waited for the magic to happen. I snapped off a bunch of shots of the area to kill the time.
When 4.30 rolled around, it was time for the gates to open. Matt and I got our tickets scanned, procured the MLB/Rockies cloth tote bags being given out (or as I like to refer to them, ‘one more thing I can forget in the car when grocery shopping‘), and walked up the stairs to this vista:
The Mets were taking batting practice, the vendors were setting up their food and machines, everything smelled like kettle corn and cooking food. We went into a small team store and poked aroud for a bit before starting off to investigate the park.
We walked around from left field over to the right field area as far as they’d let us go. Like Safeco, they allow fans in a half an hour early through two different entrances to the park. Unlike Safeco, there is not a certain area, you’re just on the main concourse, but the inner part of the stadium from first to third base is sort of roped off, and you just have to chill in the outfield concourse area for a half an hour. But this gave me the opportunity to take more pictures at a reasonably leisurely pace. The handful of fans there that early betrayed the eventual numbers of over 35,000 on the evening, and walking around taking pictures was easy; no jockeying for position or having to dart in and out of crowds. We wandered over above the bullpens so I could get some shots of the water feature, and indeed, there was also one Jacob deGrom, taking some tosses with a coach and catcher. On the way over there, we encountered a very long mural that appeared to feature a lot of stuff about Denver, its history and industry. Since it was easily several yards long and in a tight corridor that didn’t quite allow me to get the whole thing, I just picked the baseball part at the end.
We walked as far as the ropes would let us to the right field area, then wandered back, figuring that by the time we got over there, we’d be able to access the rest of the main concourse, and our seats. We were right, though had to wait a few minutes before they finally let us through. Mostly, I just wanted to check out what was there, since I already had my food and whatnot planned out.
Since we didn’t come through the home plate entrance, and I was told that I should due to the way the field is layed out, I went to the entrance, turned around, and walked back in. I think it may have lost a little of the magic that was being suggested to me, but I also think I understand the effect that it would have had on me had I gone in the home plate entrance prior. There aren’t any steps like Safeco, it’s just right there; you walk in, and that’s it; baseball is in your face.
We found the Diamond Dri Goods team store, and poked around a bit. I bought a pennant commemorating their home opener against the Padres, which I intend to display in our spare room with the other memorabilia I have collected over the years. There was a life-size Dinger just inside the door.
Then finally, The Sandlot and Blue Moon Brewing. I just wanted a beer here. Turns out, Blue Moon makes a Cinnamon Horchata ale that is just amazing. I had two, and that was my limit for the day. Totally worth not having any other beers, that stuff is amazing.
Panorama of the main concourse from our seats at The Sandlot. This is over the right field area. After I’d had a few sips of my second beer enough to not spill it all over myself while walking, we started back towards center field to grab some food before going to our seats. My plan was to get a Helton burger. Mission accomplished.
All Helton burgers come with cheese, pickles, and copious amounts of sauce. The onion rings they serve at this kiosk are also out of control; but I wasn’t hungry enough. Maybe Saturday night’s game. The Helton burger is nothing super fancy; but the amount of pickles on it gets a thumbs up from me. A good dinner. Our view of the field, the National Anthem being sung by adorable school children, and Dinger involved in some mascot shenanigans.
Right after the National Anthem, Curtis Granderson made a beeline for the edge of the field below us, and stayed there for quite some time, signing autographs. Class move, really. I was impressed.
What began as a sunny afternoon deteriorated a bit into a full cloud cover. Through the rest of the night, the wind would kick up, and I am thankful I had thought to pack one of my Mariners fleece blankets; I wore it like a cape from about the 5th inning on.
Jon Gray is a youngster who up until now had not had a major league victory or hit (keep in mind, this is the National league, where pitchers do that sort of thing). On his last outing he got shelled pretty hard, so I really didn’t know what to expect. Turns out, I got a lot more than I bargained for. Gray’s outing started off shaky; the Mets had two runs on him by the end of the second inning, and I wondered if we were about to see another bad game.
DJ LeMahieu and third base coach Cole. This was taken right after LeMahieu hit a triple. There were two triples during this game; not something you see too often. They don’t lie about the air up here. Batted balls travel, and they travel hard. Balls that would maybe make it to the second deck when fouled off were going up to the third deck to be caught by fans. Fouls and pop flys just hung in the sky, much longer than I’m used to seeing. Even the fouls that were sent up into our section were still easily visually tracked, so I never once panicked about being hit by one. More balls were hit and went more places than any other game I’ve ever been at. Most of these at Safeco would have been a lot less impressive.
The Mets’ bullpen waiting in the wings, and DJ LeMahieu taking some hacks and some grounders at the plate…
And then something kind of nutty happened. In the bottom of the 5th inning, in a 2-2 game, Jon Gray got his first career hit, a simple single. Fans went nuts, but my reaction was delayed because of course I had no idea it was his first, not being super familiar with him to begin with. After that, center fielder Charlie Blackmon singled, and Trevor Story took his second hit of the night, to plate Gray for his first major league score. High fives all ’round, Rockies up 3-2.
The Mets were not going to be getting any more runs this game. And Colorado needed some insurance, so in the 6th inning they got it. DJ LeMahieu doubled, then was brought home on a Tony Wolters single.
Jon Gray struck out the next time up, and then it was decided by the Mets to take starter Matt Harvey out and replace him with Jerry Blevins, who immediately gave a double to Charlie Blackmon, which scored Tony Wolters for the 5th and final run the Rockies would get.
The inning ended without further incident, and mascot Dinger came out and threw/slingshot t-shirts into our side of the crowd. I did not attempt to get a t-shirt, as I need another t-shirt like I need a hole in the head…which perhaps also could have been accomplished depending on how strong that slingshot was.
Gray pitched a quick 7th inning (this game was only two hours and 47 minutes long or so), and went to the dugout to a standing ovation. I was late on that, as I wasn’t sure if they’d take him out or not, but he had apparently thrown 107 pitches. I think that’ll do, in the context of the game of baseball.
Gray was replaced by Carlos Esteves, who I did not get a photo of, as his inning was over almost sooner than it began. He gave up a triple, but the Mets did nothing with it, and things were over pretty fast. Jake McGee was the final arm for the Rockies, taking the Mets down 1-2-3 and giving Gray his first career win.
Coors Field is a boatload of fun. I think the home team win probably contributed to my general feeling of accomplishment at getting to knock another park off my list, but it’s a neat park, and I recommend visiting. This game also marks the Rockies’ 1000th win in Coors Field; so we were seeing a bunch of landmark events tonight that we weren’t even counting on. Baseball is neat that way.
I probably missed out on a few things, but trying to strike a balance between seeing all the things I wanted to see and trying to have a reasonably relaxed day at the park will create a situation where you maybe don’t see everything. Thankfully, I have another game Saturday night to go to, and this time we’ll be upstairs so I’ll have the opportunity to check all that stuff out too. So far, I’m pleased with my trip and the reason I came out here. I’m hoping for a repeat performance from the boys for our game up in the mile high row.