Some things just don’t change…and some do.

Ahh, so I told myself I would not blog again until I really had something to say. Not just blabble or posting a million picts to feel like somebody was reading my blog. Nope, never cared about that. For me it was writing for the pure enjoyment of it. If people read it, awesome, and many awesome friendships I created from writing here. Many I hold dear to my heart to this day. Some I have much thought about and wanted to reconnect with and some I hope to see again in all their glory.

So, today without further ado I sit down at the computer. What would MLBlogs hold for me? What would I see? Who might grace the front page with some great article or insightful piece that would remind me what I was missing in my hiatus away from this site?

Well low and behold. More of the same. I had to laugh. More promotion, more pimping to the masses and more selling. I know I missed great articles from real people and moments I could go back and catch up, but for me it’s moving forward. When I came back from my travels and my aunt was dying, I meant it when I said I wanted to prioritize what was most important and I did. So for the crap that is still the same, I’ll never buy you nor will I care somebody is getting a paycheck and pretending to be all about the baseball. The real baseball seeps through into the ballpark conversations on a summers eve or the lone blogger who gets excited everytime fingers hit the keys even if nobody reads it. The real baseball doesn’t pretend or name drop to fuel an ego. Blah blah blah. Just more of the same.

So without further ado yet again, here is what I really wanted to write…

Wow, hard to believe another year of baseball is upon us. I can think back to the ending of last year and the last game I went to. I had just gotten a job and I could finally pay for a ticket again! What a great feeling it was. I can remember the moment walking into the ballpark. My heart was racing like it was my first game ever. I could smell the food, feel the sun warming my skin and I had to laugh as two good friends I had met over the season were busy chattering away between themselves as I strolled behind them. They walked oblivious as to the moment I was having. Filled with emotions, I just walked silent. I couldn’t tell you what they were talking about because I was so thankful for the moment and the feeling of just being there. Baseball had been part of an amazing journey for me and here was the culmination for this season.

We laughed, we watched, we saw a win to end the season for me. These two people were emblematic of this whole thing. “I knew all the rules but the rules did not know me, guaranteed.” You might recognize these fine people. They were a microcosm of America and everything that was good about my journey with baseball. Strangers months before, friends that day and beyond.


Thumbnail image for DSCN0708.JPGFlash forward

March 22, 2010 the sun is setting on the Arizona highway. My Iphone chooses the soundtrack of my life but my mind is elsewhere.

cactom2.JPGOne year ago I was unemployed gearing up for the largest journey of my life. I had just cashed in every penny I ever owned, liquidated my belongings and decided to meet America through it’s people and it’s baseball fans.

This day I had a great job. A job that allowed me the freedom to jump into a rental car and zoom off to spring training to once again find that freedom that awaited me. I had sat in 75 degree weather and yet again felt that feeling of euphoria. Simple things awaited me and I found them. I found more amazing conversations with complete strangers. I found a simplicity in the game I love and the people who follow it.

I could think back to end of the summer as I watched my aunt die and her amazing spirit kept fighting on. She would let me take her up a 14,000 ft peak and we would laugh and take in those moments as we knew they would be some of her last. The Rockies would falter in the playoffs and baseball didn’t seem so important. The winter months would come and snow would cover the life that had blossomed all summer. Death would come just before Christmas, but there was so many precious moments before that. Moments to remember and legends to pass on. My aunt would be upset if she knew I wasn’t writing. She didn’t care what I wrote, because to her it was always good and she knew it made me happy. Sometimes people know what is best for you before you do.

The road would rise to meet the rubber of my tires as I headed east and north back to Colorado. I couldn’t help but think how much was different. A good job, a great family, friends I looked so forward to reconnecting with in the following months. But with death comes life and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t thinking about my son who will be born in late July.

The hours turned into minutes as the night cloaked me and left me to more of my thoughts. I could see his mother and I laughing about painting her belly like a baseball or maybe it might score a few more autographs, kinda like the kid rule. Maybe the pregnant lady rule could get her a full team ball this year. We would see. Because as some things stay the same some don’t. My future will no longer be about Rocky Mountain Way, interestingly enough it’s now Rocky Mountain Ways.

So a big apology to those who have worried about me or wondered what happened to me. “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans,” and let’s just say I’ve been a bit busy : ) I will talk more about my work helping fund life saving research, my sons advancement into this world and of course the Colorado Rockies among so many other things. It’s what I do.

Nine is fine for the Rockies and myself

I love baseball superstitions. Call me hokey or weird, but I love the way the game has so many stories of past and present superstitions.

Take for instance 9/09/09. I know, I know all kinds of weirdness came and went on this fateful day. Brides got married, the Chinese couldn’t get enough of it and Japanese architects actually take the number nine out of building plans for hotels and such. What’s the fuss over 9?

Well, I was intrigued by the “nine” but thought it was just something fun to maybe watch for but not necessarily seek out. Oh how I was wrong.

See, any long time readers of this blog, the ones I love and always hope drop in, will know that as this season started I left everything behind to follow the Rockies. Home was gone, possessions, job, savings, you name it. I did it all in search of meeting this great country and watching my guys of summer in their glory. But, and this is a big but, the money ran out. Uncle Sam took his share of my 401 and there I was left without a direction except to go forward. This would take a job. Pounding the pavement and looking in every open door I could find, I searched for a way to get back on my feet and at least catch some more baseball before this season was done.

Door closed after door closed I kept searching. A recent job search proved fruitful in that I was in the final candidates they would consider to take the position. On and on the process went until I was told last week they would have a decision by the end of…you guessed it, 9/9/09. The day was as long as I can remember one being and finally the end of business rolled around at 5 and I had given up much of the hope I had held onto. This was the end of the business day and no offer had come. It was going to be a long night.

There I was thinking of what to do next in my search for employment. I had shied away from listening to the Rockies game but I heard it was tied in the 8th and any woe is me feeling left at that moment. I was a baseball fan and I could at least refresh the box scores every 30 seconds and see what happens.

It was the 9th inning and the Reds had just come up to bat and broken the tie. It was time for the Rockies to come up. Just then the phone rang and as I looked at it, it was my possible employer calling. Flabergasted I looked at the clock to see what time it was. It was 9 o’clock at night. A work call at 9 o’clock? Surely this had to be a rejection call and what a way to get somebody to sleep  calling at that hour. I didn’t pick up. I waited to see if there was a message because it would be easier to face a rejection over a message. There was no rejection rather a “call me tonight before 10″ message. If this was going to be a rejection it was a messed up way to have someone call back only to get punked.

But, I mustered the confidence and called back. It was actually a call to make an offer and could I meet up tomorrow to sign the paper if I wanted the position? Whoa, I noticed the clock and thought why did you call at 9? Well the boss boss was in Hawaii on business and they are five hours behind so the confirmation came at 5 their time 9 mine. Spooky I thought.

I had forgotten the Rockies game was being refreshed on my laptop and there it was after the call. The Rockies had won their 8th game of the homestand. I know you say 8 is not 9….But it made their homestand record 8-1 and looky looky if you add 8 and 1 together you get 9.  

Today as I was reliving this phenomenon of the number 9 I saw the Rockies had won their 9th game of the homestand. Garrett Atkins hit homerun number 8 of the season so I can only guess he will get number nine in the first game against San Diego. It’s beginning to seem like no coincidence they are leaving Coors for a 9 game road trip.

Call me crazy but as I was wrapping up my day I felt the need to get one of those amazing Girl Scout blizzards from Dairy Queen. Just as I was getting my change back I noticed that in my first day of being employed, I spent exactly nine dollars without even realizing it.

I think I am going to see where this 9 thing takes me and the Rockies. If we lose and I find myself sitting in say seat 7, I will rethink and make sure the seat I am in if it is seat 7 is in row 2. After all 7+2=9 and 9 is just fine for the Rockies and myself…

Who cares about Keith Olbermann…really?

Ahh, thinking back on the fond days in newspaper life (the scene fading into black). I can remember when a managing editor would give someone he/she a scolding when ideas were offered up in the daily news meeting which were played out or just simply out of touch. 

Right about this time you could tell who was worth their weight in the profession and who was just simply lazy or resting on their laurels to get by. For instance, the state fair may be rolling into town and the lazy reporter may offer up an idea to cover the food vendors  The editor would look over with a scolding eyebrow and explain how that was a boring angle that any reporter in numerous years has covered. But to the guy or gal offering it up, may have seemed like a good idea because the food vendors were always accesible and people love food. Maybe something like Keith Olbermann being on the cover story yet again, might have gotten the same scolding from a good managing editor.

Tuning into MLBlogs I am once more graced with the face of Keith Olbermann and something this man has to say is sure to be worthwhile reading. Not that he hasn’t been focused on enough throughout the season since he became a blogger, but this post should guarantee yet another rousing piece. Now, this is in no way an attack on the writing of Olbermann or what he brings to MLBlogs. Some of his pieces are well worth the posting and he like everyone else in this community is more than welcome to share his views. That’s what makes this place a roundtable of so many great ideas. But somehow I’m still left feeling like someone is asleep on their watch.

It’s not like there aren’t other interesting people who blog that may have an even greater piece of writing, but unfortunately they don’t have primetime television audiences and aren’t recognizable enough to bring in advertising revenue to MLBlogs. Because let’s face it ladies and gentlemen, this site has a bottom line and someone has to answer to keeping it profitable. Don’t ever assume this is only an altruistic endeavour by Major League Baseball to give the fans a voice. You have a voice but you better be the one who’s name gets brought up in casual conversation to impress another, aka namedropping.

So let’s name drop. Who can be a big enough name, willing enough to write on MLBlogs and be worthy of making the front cover with hopefully some form of insightful and interesting writing?

Hmm, wait that’s not our job as writers. That’s the job of those in power positions within this organization. The editors and producers, if you will, of this online site. Surely there has to be someone “worthy” of making the front page and who can add to this dialogue? But we don’t have the rolodexes or blackberries filled with people on a national basis who could make for an interesting read. Nope, we are just left to scratch our heads at one may perceive as the ineptness or apathy of management to make the tough phone calls or reach out to new sources of baseball and not just rest on the fact “there’s always Keith Olbermann.” It’s played out and tired.

Fine, get your ego boosted and your advertising revenue met with big names, but with any luck it will be from new and different voices who can really bring a fresh voice. Pound the pavement and make the calls or send the emails.  Do the research and earn the paycheck before putting out another all too familiar voice on the subject. 

Otherwise it won’t surprise me to dream up such headlines as “Olbermann sees Yankees as top contender” or Olbermann talks about new Yankee Stadium in it’s first postseason” during the month or so left of baseball. Mix it up or give it up. Didn’t somebody say “change is good.” Maybe that can be hard to see in a proverbial ivory tower where everyone says “Sure thing boss. Great idea” but for the rest of us please try..

Poof..Baseball, like life is a series of moments

It doesn’t take a lifelong philosopher to think of the idea that life is a series of moments all strung together and some are seemingly more meaningful then the next. However, the head fake here is maybe they are all just as important as the next.

Case in point: Just last week it seemed the Rockies were on the verge of taking the division, coming back from the largest deficit in league history to do so. It seemed 151/2 games out in early June would cement the Rockies ’09 season. Why shouldn’t it?

The bullpen was terrible the offense was anemic. Morale was the lowest I had seen it the entire season. Anger and frustration could be seen in every at-bat.

I was driving to Houston wishing the Rockies could just put together a few wins. I would come back to Colorado blown away by the amount of success the team would have on that road trip.

Moments like this seemed the norm. Our closer would give up the lead and leave with a tie. Josh Fogg would give up the winning run in the end and the Rockies would lose a heartbreaker in the heart of Texas.

 

Josh Fogg by Tom Walsh(1).JPGThe Rockies hope of a closer ironically, named Huston Street, would say something that would stick with me I think forever. I’ve said it before, but before that game I asked him if we were going to win tonight. “We’re gonna try,” he replied. In that moment it was almost as if defeat were expected. Do or do not. There is no try.

This was a defining moment. The Rockies could have packed it up and in. I had lost my bet for the series and just wanted to leave Houston with some pride intact. The guys in the clubhouse were playing for their own reasons. The Rockies could have lost the entire series in Houston, instead they opened up the flood gates and took the final game on their way to St. Louis.

Who knows what series of moments changed the momentum in that clubhouse. The Rockies would go on one of the longest streaks in Major League history and get little to no recognition at all.

Last week, it seemed those series of moments had changes a lot of people’s minds. I overheard national media being asked if the Rockies had any chance of overtaking the Dodgers. They were four games ahead in the Wild Card and they were only three games behind the boys of Los Angeles. All of sudden I knew things had changed. The tide was coming in rather than flowing out. The talking heads all agreed the Rockies had the power and ability to overtake the division leaders.

From the last place kids to being considered one of the most complete teams in the National League. I chuckled, because I have said it since before the season started, this team was loaded and cocked and would surprise a lot of people. But good teams win when it matters no matter what obstacles they face.

We lost our number one pitcher to injury and too many others too mention in the bullpen. But good teams win when it matters. No matter how cliche or redundant that phrase seems it’s the truth. The thing is we are all our own team. So those series of moments that we follow so closely in baseball are just the same in our own lives. You may be a last place laughing stock today, but with the right decisions and positive moments in hand you might just find yourself knocking on the door of first place.

The Rockies just choked down a five game losing streak and no longer have the lead in the Wild Card. They are now six games out of first and the future looks bleak. History might say the Rockies will pack it in soon enough and all is lost. Most people have come to expect that underachieving nature of this franchise but therein lies the beauty of the moment. Nothing is decided yet. So what if people doubt you and look for you to fail. You have the ability to prove them all wrong and maybe even yourself. The Rockies have the opportuntity to knock the idea of underachievers out of all the doubters minds.

Time will tell, but be careful in the decisions you make because each may be even more important then the next…Just a series of moments hopefully more good than bad.

The critique should start at home..err criticism that is

As I was sitting in the emergency room of the local hospital the other night, it hit me. I was wearing a Rockies jacket and if this was a sampling of the local Colorado population, then the Rockies were not getting any support and frankly it gets me po’d.

Yeah, just another day in the life. No, it wasn’t me who needed an emergency room visit, rather it was my father. He had a procedure earlier in the day which had the doctors entering his fermoral artery to remove some blockages in his blood system. If you haven’t heard of the femoral artery or forgot about it since your days in biology, it’s a main artery that when ruptured can kill a person in about 10 minutes. If you watched any shark week, it’s the artery hit most often in shark attacks and surfers don’t last long on the beach if it’s not tied off.

If you’re thinking “Can this guy catch a break?” Don’t worry I was thinking the same thing. When it rains it pours and another situation where someone’s health is in jeopardy around me is becoming all too familiar.

So the old man needed to make sure the artery plug job they had done on him was going to hold, because nobody in my family could handle the big man bleeding out overnight at home.

There I was. Almost in a daze because this kind of stuff is becoming too familiar. The emotions are turning off easier and easier and I found myself staring at the people all around at near midnight. It got me thinking. What had happened with the Rockies? I was getting bits and pieces but truthfully have not heard or watched a full game in almost three weeks.

I knew they had kept close in the wild card and were in a great position. The gap with the division leading Dodgers was lessening and they were still very much in it. So I looked around and asked. “Where the Rockies fans at?” I mean this is Colorado and somebody in that 50+ group had to have some gear on. Somewhere? Somebody?

Nope. I saw a 350 pound woman, who literally could not fit in the chair, who had on a 5×5 inch silver medallion Raiders logo on a silver necklace. Obviously the necklace didn’t seem too big on her petite frame, but who the hell wears a giant Raiders logo to the ER? What the hell was I witnessing?

Then I saw a Broncos hat. Alright, football season is nearing and I expect to see the Bronco gearing coming on strong. I’m okay with that. At least it wasn’t another Raiders logo. Wait, before I could look any further it’s a guy wearing a Cowboys jersey.

Again, where the hell was the Rockies love? It donned on me that my jacket may be the only representation there and I was going to have to come to terms with that.

Entering the room to have the doctor come in, I begin to smart off to the old man. I am a professional smartace. I was trying to lighten the room and the old man can pick that up pretty quick. That’s when I noticed the tv listing on the wall. I said,”They have a lot of channels let’s see where RockyMountain FSN is and maybe we can catch some highlights or the rerun of the game.” Hmmm, up and down the list my eye scanned. Lifetime…Fox News…Food Network..ah here we go ESPN..NFL Network…basebahhh. What?

 

erpic1.jpgAfter looking over the list up and down repeatedly, I saw there was no FSN to catch any Rockies baseball.

I would have probably been okay if they didn’t have the NFL Network. The reason behind that thought is in Colorado the belief had always been everything else is second to football. The first major sport in Colorado and the beloved Broncos are rightly so up there. But there’s no reason to not at least fake some support for the baseball team here.So somebody in the administration had made sure there was at least some football coverage for their ER visitors. Everything from spanish tv to football, but besides getting lucky on some momentary coverage on ESPN, there was no hope for the Rockies faithful.

I get the fact that baseball has not put out the greatest product in the Rocky Mountains, but any baseball fan worth his wait has to be somewhat excited right now. This team is no fluke. i realize I was in the minority this off-season screaming to the top of my lungs saying this team was going to be a contender. But it seems until they win a World Series and keep a team in the playoffs for long stretches they aren’t going to get the respect even within their home state.

So there I sat. The old man was laying in the bed ready to hear his news when I thrust the camera upon him. Go ahead. Take it. I’m disgusted that someone in this hospital saw to overlook putting baseball on the programming.

 

er pic.jpgYep, the picture was crooked, but seeing he didn’t know if he was going to bleed out in the next 12 hours, I give him credit.  

So, the next time I want to put full blame on the bottom line of tv dollars, I will also make the argument that the war to support the Rockies is not being fully won at home. It’s not just outside forces, but an attitude of apathy towards a sport that has put and will put a good product out for years to come.

Although I was going miles a minute in my thoughts, I did notice a funny piece of writing in the hospital I had to share. I quote, “Logs will be given to nurse manager daily and reviewed daily for accountability.” I laughed when I read that. Lucky nurse..getting logs and all.

Oh, and yes the old man survived. My pops even saw fit to get smart with the doctor. Guess the apple and tree thing fits somewhere in there. A tension filled night came to climax in the morning and knock on wood, he’s getting along. Another day in the life…

“Carve out your heart for keeps in an old oak tree”

I wish I was going to start a blog about the Rockies and baseball in general. There seems to be plenty going on and I’d be lying if I said I knew much about any of it. Steroids, trades, dreams of the post season seem to reach my ear or eye but don’t resonate much further at this moment in life. So, unfortunately I won’t be writing about baseball, but I did promise to write about myself when I started this thing and baseball related or not, it’s something I’ll keep to.

My blogging dropped off for the last two weeks or so for a number of reasons and I wish I could tell you it is going to pick up with some regularity, but I can’t say that and so this post is both an explanation and an expectation of sorts to maybe save some people time in looking for me.

Recently, my family was given some devastating news that has changed my outlook on a number of things. One day I get a text from my father saying there has been some bad news and maybe I should stop in to lend support. My mother was in tears and before long I heard that my aunt had been diagnosed with cancer. They had no further information that day and driving away I hoped for a localized cancer that could be removed and treated and my 61-year-old aunt would have another 20 years to live.

One of the worst things in life for me is a mother crying. Watching mine walk in from the hospital and hearing the diagnosis days later that her sister had less than a year to live stopped me in my tracks. Suddenly things like baseball didn’t seem so important. Tracking down a score or hoping the home team wouldn’t trade away a player faded. A favorite movie of mine came to mind and the lead actor says why are you crying for Mickey Mantle? Mickey Mantle don’t care about you. There’s a truth behind that and my own worries of baseball or bills or a job seemed minor and insignificant.

Here I was faced with the idea of talking with someone who had just been given a death sentence and trying to act normal. What was normal?

I’ve known a great amount of tragedy in my life and throughout I’ve been mostly able to remain solid and strong for those around me in need. Often times I didn’t ask who was going to help me because I was too busy helping them. It wasn’t weird for me to make the funeral plans for my brother-in-law who had killed himself and my sister sat in a hypnotic state in the hospital bed. It had to be done and this guy needed answers, so I answered. So what if I was 19? It had to be done. My first action that night was to immediately go to the store and buy the biggest teddy bear I could find for my orphaned 6-year-old niece and 4-year-old nephew.

I didn’t think twice to come to my brother’s aid and drive him to a friend after he had been shattered after hydroplaning and killing a teenager in the other car. I didn’t waiver for a second in the words I spoke and with the greatest conviction I could muster, explained that terrible things happen for no reason.

But, here I was trying to figure out how to console my mother and her sister and give them some semblance of hope without being fake or unreal. I don’t fully support western medicine and I have seen miracles happen with my own eyes, so there was a part of me that wanted to find the most mundane statistic or hope. I wanted to lighten the mood and be the smart-***** I can be so good at. I wanted to fill the room with laughter and hope. I meant what I said in stating that attitude is everything. I found a survival rate for this particular cancer at 2% for five years. I jokingly said, you should make it 3% just to p iss the doctor off. My aunt laughed and said she planned on it.

Now, I’m not writing this post to say poor me or my life has ended too, because it hasn’t. On the other hand I want to do even more now than in the past. Tim McGraw’s song  “Live like you were dying,” has always been a favorite of mine. I have been Rocky Mountain climbing standing on the peaks of formidable 14,000′ beasts. I plan to go sky diving and seek out a bull named foo-man choo. I watched eagles soar and so many other great adventures. But I was still stunned in realizing there probably won’t be another August to remember with my aunt.

When I was a freshman in college it was a hard place at first. Meeting all new people and leaving my best friends behind was tough. I was alone. I’ll never forget taking my laundry into the room and putting it into the washer and sitting down to the old wooden table that sat just as lonely under the fluorescent lights. Just then I looked down and saw lyrics from a favorite but obscure song I loved. I wondered who wrote them and how they must love the song like I did. I ran my fingers over the carved out lyrics and didn’t feel so alone. Somebody else knew them and sat in this exact chair and wrote them. Somebody out there was like me.

I’m posting this because as much I would like to stay private and not say anything, I wonder if there is someone going through something so similar as me. Maybe they felt alone like I did in that laundry room years ago. Maybe they just happen to stumble across this blog and feel there is someone just like them.

I’d like to say I’ll be into baseball soon and my writing will be all things Rockies, but that could very well end up being a lie and I don’t want to lie. If I find my interest growing, this will be my first stop.

I thought a lot about writing and soon as things aren’t so emotionally rich I’m going to ask my aunt if I can interview and write her story. Sit down every week and learn something new and pass it on through my writing. Maybe that will satisfy some urge in me to make a difference in this situation.  Everybody has a story and I can get this one before it’s lost. The last chapter is writing itself but that doesn’t mean the ending is set in stone.

So sorry if you don’t get the Rocky Mountain fill like you were used to, but I want to make sure my priorities are in the right direction before that choice is no longer mine.  I do love dropping by blogs and reading a good story or two when I have the chance so don’t count on me being forever gone. I do notice the great adventures from amazing bloggers in San Diego and or intellectuals with awesome mustaches in Chicago or friends who have seen the better side of cancer in Boston. You all are always with me and whenever I catch a score and it’s your team I think of the Cliff’s and Jen’s and Jeremy’s or Kaity’s and Kylie’s and Emily’s and so many more.

In the mean time don’t do anything I wouldn’t do. Stop laughing : ) I can hear you…

ALL ABOARD!!! The Bandwagon takin all ticket holders.

Day 170ScannedImage.jpg

Okay, so I had some time to do a litte sketch of a bandwagon. Sue me. But it articulates the point I am trying to make. Coming back from the break, the Rockies are gaining momentum taking down the Padres 10-1. The funny thing is, I don’t think anyone outside of Colorado even recognizes the Rockies are still within reach of the division lead and eight games behind the Dodgers who have the best record in baseball.

That is unless of course you are a Rockies die-hard and have known the mighty defeats and felt the highs of this current turn-around that has lasted over the month of June and into the middle of July.

But along with the continued success, comes the inevitable knock on the Rockies fanbase from national media of how we are bandwagoners. Eh, excuse me I practically own at least a wheel on the damn thing for the contributions I have put into the team from my hard earned money.

I’m ready for it though and I am welcoming all bandwagoners onto the ever increasing popular mode of transportation. In 2007 I had to listen to idiots like Colin Cowherd of ESPN make the point how Rockies fans were a joke and just watching any game you could see the tags hanging from their new hats. We weren’t a baseball town they said. We could care less about our team they said. 

It’s true, a lot of the faithful gave up hope in the years after the Rockies made their first playoff visit. They saw management try and fail to bring in worthwhile talent and more retreads came and went then I can  count. Money was thrown away like nothing and we became the laughing stock of the baseball world. Maybe not as bad as the current day Nationals, but I took a lot of abuse in those years wearing a Rockies hat. 

There was a plan we were told. The Rockies could not afford to bring in tons of high priced talent so we would grow it they said. We had to wait patiently. I remember in 2006 how I could see the makings of some good young players and how excited I became. It ended up being a sub-par year, but I was hopeful. 2007 came and we started out bad again. I can remember sitting in sub-freezing temperatures at the second game of the year at Coors Field and a young rookie name Tulowitzki would help win the game in extra-innings. I saw a glimmer and went to a ton of games that year.

I’ve mentioned how my father and I will always debate who told who the other the “streak” had to happen if we were going to make the playoffs. I say it was me because I remember sitting on the first base line and texting him that we needed to win 21 games and we’d be in. He says he told me and somewhere along the line he did, but I remember exactly when I said it and I say I was first.

No matter, they made it into the playoffs in grand style. Most notably in a 13 inning game I was at and will never forget as long as I live. Probably, one of the best, if not the best game I’ll ever see. I remember that team and how it seemed they were on auto pilot. Nothing could stop them, except time. They had swept the entire NLDS and NLCS and they had too much time to slow down and think about what they had just done. That much time would get into the head of any man. Along came a more experienced and veteran Red Sox team that took full advantage of that weakness like any great competitor would.

In 2009 I saw it so much earlier this time. I got to see what I knew was there the whole time that night in Houston. I watched the boys battle back from embarrassing losses and take one on the way out of town. I watched them sweep the Cardinals in St. Louis, a feat that had not been done in decades I was told. I saw them head into Milwaukee with a swagger I knew they could have all along.

So the national media came, gave them five minutes to point out what they had done and poof. The AL East would still get most of the coverage, but the nation had overlooked a truly remarkable accomplishment. The Rockies had embarked on a streak that had not been seen in over 40 years of baseball, but it got the casual mention.

I’m not heartbroken or even surprised. Major League baseball doesn’t make the type of money a Dodgers-Yankees World Series makes and I understand there are millions more people living in those markets. There is another point that needs to be made too. Those markets also have generations that have grown up with them. Grandfathers who took fathers who took sons who took sons and daughters who continue to take their offspring. The Rockies, for all intensive purposes are just coming into the first generation old enough to bring their children to the ballpark.

You’ve got bloggers like Baby Paul who are prime examples of what is up and coming for the Rockies fan base. I met a guy about my age who had flown his son and he to Milwaukee to catch a single game against the Brewers. This is the future of Rockies baseball in Colorado.

So don’t judge our fanbase because we are young or because many many people will jump on this bandwagon that is ever growing in popularity in our beautiful state. We are fans, we love our team, and if you read any of the many great Rockies bloggers on this site, I think you will take away that feeling. We may not have millions behind us or have celebrities wearing our gear to make a fashion statement, but we have true blooded baseball fans who came together from all teams and histories and unite behind the purple and white.

I said it at the beginning of the season and you can read as far back into my blog as you want. This team will be a team to be reckoned with and the next time you want to knock on the NL West as being the worst division in baseball, look at the stats and see how many Cy Young winners have come from there. You might just gain a little more respect.

The Rockies may get over looked in the media but they don’t care. They aren’t playing for the fame. They are playing for the game and each man behind them. They will win more games and I undoubtedly expect they will be surprising a lot of people come the end of the season. The media will once again give them five minutes as they look to the Dodgers or the Yankees or Red Sox. It’s predictable, but if you are a baseball fan, a real baseball fan who loves the game don’t be afraid to learn a thing or two about this team and these Rockies because they could just make history.

Don’t say I didn’t tell ya so.

Sometimes it’s just a few inches…

Day 196

 

By now you’ve all seen it. Carl Crawford robbing my boy Brad Hawpe of a homerun in the all-star game. Not cool. Great job for him and the American League but so not cool for Brad in his first at bat in his first all-star game and a chance for America to see one of the best right fielders in baseball. It got me thinking though. A few more inches and the ball is a homerun out of the reach of Crawford’s glove and life is completely changed. Just a few inches..

Recently if you’ve dropped by I Live for This written by one Mrs. Emily Marshall, you’ve read that she and I were able to take some time out to enjoy the American pasttime in the great stadium of Coors Field.

She asked me how life was going and all I could respond was that I felt like I was a giant 747 stuck in a holding pattern. Not landing and not flying, I was just seemingly revolving in a circle trying to figure out the best way to maneuver. Not long after I felt a presence greater than me and I had to smile as I stopped in time to savor the moment. I excused myself to take and picture to capture that memory and when I came back, Emily had asked me if I had gotten my picture.

DSCN0547.JPG     Coors Field by Tom Walsh 

 I sure did. 

I laughed as I was posting this, because I remembered taking it and I had moved a few inches over a few times trying to get what I considered the perfect picture. I wanted to remember that feeling and how beautiful the park looked and what a perfect temperature a summer evening can bring. Just a few inches…

It was amazing the next night and how the promise of a few inches of rain could immediately stop a game. Scoreboard read threats of a heavier down pour and lightning, stopping the game in it’s tracks.

 

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     Coors rain out by Tom Walsh

A few inches of rain could flood a field and a lot of baseball fans.

The more I thought the more it seemed a few inches could change so much..

How many men would love just a few more inches to work with..?

How many caught stealing second could have stolen bases if they had been a few inches under the tag..?

How many soldiers would still be alive if the bullet had been a few inches farther over?

How many hearts would not be broken if nice words had fallen a few inches closer to the heart or retaliatory words had been a few inches farther away..?

How many homeruns would there be if a few more sliders stayed up just a few more inches..?

How many people would have won the lottery had they been a few inches ahead in the line where the winning ticket was purchased..?

If you heard from Emily, I tried my best to mentor the eager young baseball fan to score some autographs. She had gotten some before at promotional events, but I learned never any at a ballgame.

Before too long, she would figure out that getting autographs at times was just a matter of
DSCN0493.JPGinches. After missing out on an opportunity with Chris Ianetta the first day, I was quick to point out where to put the item to be autographed and it was, you guessed it, just a few inches further.

Bam, calling the spirit of Billy Mays (RIP), Emily had not only perfected her technique but had used all the vicarious knowledge I could give to score not one, but three autographs the next day. Bam, Chris Ianetta could now be checked off the list. Emily had her first autograph at a big league stadium.

The always gentleman Clint Barmes took Emily’s pen, went to place his down on the wall, and just like that as it was falling, caught it within inches of it’s departure. Of course being the guy I am, I had to point out I “expected nothing else from our sure handed second baseman.” It got a genuine smile and it was a compliment I was happy to give.

I explained to Emily that ever since I had first met Clint in his Triple-A days many years ago, he has been and I presume will always be a class act. He’s about as humble and nice a guy you could ever expect in a baseball player and I’ve always loved him for that. I still keep his autographs from the Triple-A days with the same regard as his now. Who knows, maybe had his life or a major life experience like him falling down carrying a slab of deer meat in his rookie of the year run in 2005 and had him falling a few inches differently and not breaking his collar bone, he becomes a major idiot?

 

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     Clint Barmes by Tom Walsh

Personally, Barmie (as we call him around these parts) I’m glad you never lost that sense of humility you have always carried with you. Maybe it seemed like that injury years ago was an unfair place to get hurt and a few inches the other way, but I like the way it’s turned out.

 This poor guy had a blood clot that could have travelled a few inches over into his heart and killed him.

 

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     Aaron Cook by Tom Walsh

Before the end of the season, I’d like to see his knuckleball dropping a few more inches and him getting back into that number one starter role we need him to be to overtake the Dodgers.

But you get the point and so does my leg as I need to move this laptop a few inches off it before it gets burned.

Just remember though, whenever it seems like miles before a break in the circumstances, those miles are just made up of inches and it just takes a few…

Down but not out…outside Coors and still looking in…and 27th?

Day 189

 

So much for a poignant well written come back letter…maybe I was never gone, but movable type decided it wanted to sign me out and when I signed back in I had two letters of an at least 700 word blog. Ah the universe.So here’s the leftovers..just kidding.

Hello each and all and welcome to another addition of Rocky Mountain Way. As you can see from the header, I am still outside Coors looking in. Maybe someday I can score a janitor’s key or something, but for now it’s just the little ‘ol me wishing and waiting on a dream.

Where to begin? What’s it been like a week or something? I’m sure some would surmise of my demise, but alas I am still here. Hmm with that sentence maybe I should go seek a job at the local renaissance fair. C’mon you know you all knock it until you go and find yourself being one of the geeks telling yourself next year you’re going to put aside some cash to score a cool costume like everyone else. C’mon we’re all friends here.

Trying to get back into the swing of things and needing baseball like a junkie needs a fix, I find myself trying to track down where exactly everything is. Just then,like the forever thoughtful MLBlogger she is, Julia stopped in to say she missed me and by the way I was 27 in the lastest rankings. 27? I’m sure with my absence I’ll be 72 come next time. But for now I am 27 and the spirit of Mr. Jimmy C who came up with a cool idea seemingly a long time ago, I am going to dedicate this blog to the man known as #27 Garrett Atkins.

 

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     Garrett Atkins by Tom Walsh

Travelling across America and putting 10,000 miles on the Rockies Roadster I got to know a little better the man known as Garrett Atkins. I’m not saying we became friends or anything, but I got to see him outside Coors and even had a few exchanges with him that had me thinking a great deal about the guy.

I remember an usher in Houston walking over to Garret while he was warming up and saying something softly to him. Moments later Atkins would come running over to a little boy at the wall where a proud papa would blurt out before he could even reach it, “his name is Garrett Atkins too.” Atkins would smile and say “I heard.” Signing the little boys gear, it was clear he cared and whether it was a fluke or a on purpose this kid was named after him he, wanted to acknowledge it.

 

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     Garrett Atkins by Tom Walsh

At that same moment I reminded him he had signed my team ball and to not make me out to be a liar because I had promised him it was a slump buster in Atlanta. He laughed and said, “It’s gotta turn sometime.”

Fittingly enough, I think of that line a lot these days. When everything seems to be in a slump for me, I think back to that moment and say to myself, it’s gotta turn sometime.

Later that night, I think I was proud as any fan could be in Houston when Atkins hit back to back homeruns in the game. Minute Maid park has very little foul territory along the walls and I was sitting literally in the front row yelling, “It’s gotta turn sometime” as he rounded third base. Third base seemed so close and I hoped he could hear me. I was happy for the guy. That game wouldn’t get him out of his slump, but it was a nice start.

It hit me hard as I was on that road trip and I heard rumors of the Rockies looking to trade Atkins. Since 2005 where he had been stationed over at third base, I watched a rising star come up in the organization. Now, I had talked to a Rockies insider and heard they had been trying to trade him the entire off season. I know baseball is a what have you done for me lately game, but I was sad to hear the front office thought there was a better third baseman lying around.

I don’t play fantasy baseball but I’m sure Garrett has been taken off a few teams this year. Hitting .225 in 227 at bats this season, his future is uncertain. Young Ian Stewart has taken over third base and Atkins plays sparingly. Everything I’ve heard says he is completely professional in his situation and still a great team player. I wouldn’t have guessed anything else.

 

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     Garrett Atkins by Tom Walsh

One thing I know for certain, Garrett and I, ironically enough, are stuck in similar places in different situations in our life. We are both talented and in a “slump” if you will, so it’s fitting I get to dedicate my number 27  ranking to a class act in the Rockies organization. We both know too, it’s gotta turn sometime.

A chip and a chair

Day 174

 

Woke up this morning and I got myself a beer. The future is uncertain but the end is always near… The Doors

 

I like the game of poker and there is a saying I have always been fond of- a chip and a chair. Basically, it just means that as long as you have at least a chip and a chair at the table you are still in the game. The odds may be heavily stacked against you, but there is still hope.

Dear readers of Rocky Mountain Way..Outside Coors looking in, I have some not so great news. The money for Baseball Across America has come to an end. It saddens me to have to even think of this post and for the last few days I didn’t even have the stomach to write it.

There are plenty of reasons why the money came up short and I am okay with every one of them. They each represented something and it was part of the journey. I would not have known my cat, who now resides with my parents, would need serious dental surgery and it would take a significant chunk of money. But I would never regret paying for it, because even if for a few moments of being around her, she brings love to so many. World meet Samantha.

 

DSCN0497.JPGSo I missed more ball games and opportunities to meet new and interesting people. The joy she brings is worth more than all of that. Knowing she would be suffering while I was galvanting across America would never have sat well with me.

Maybe I bought one too many hot dogs or should not have taken in so many places to spend money, but that was part of the journey. Whether it was tipping a really cool beer enthusiast bartender who picked my brain about Colorado breweries, or a healthy tip for a tired ballpark vendor, it all added up. I wouldn’t want any of it back.

I don’t want to say that I am not saddened or upset at not being able to finish out the season, but in retrospect everything I did to get to this point is pretty damn crazy and satisfying in my book.  I don’t know anyone else who sold, donated or disposed of %90 of their posessions, moved out of their home, became a nomad and decided to follow baseball.

People have asked with a sort of speculation what I would do after the money ran out, like I had a nice nest egg lying in wait ready to open and start life over again. I assure you that when I said I cashed in my 401k that puppy is gone, like the wind. So here I am. yet again jacking wifi from a business who puts out the strongest signal. I have no permamnent home and basically the Rockies Roadster and some friends and family to bounce around with for awhile. Still the open road calls to me with its allure.

I believe everything happens for a reason and I know I am here for some reason I am not yet aware of. Leaving Chicago, I was able to meet up with Jeff of RSBS and it was a “short” encounter in that I was not able to spend days with him, but the time was interestingly more meaningful then I think Jeff even understood. See, Jeff passed on a book to me that I read in two days flat. I read it with an overall understanding of the author and his ordeal, but I did not understand the impact it would have upon me. If Jeff did, then I think China imparted some wisdom on him that he is keeping up his sleeve. 

That’s when I wondered, had I had even a momentary impact on any of the people I met along the way? Hearing stories and listening long enough to offer that person an opporunity to be heard. I always say that everybody has a story but people don’t often slow down long enough to hear it. I heard many and will be forever changed.

That’s where a chip and a chair comes in. I am still actively looking for a short time job opportunity that will allow me to launch yet again into the heart of America. Every ballpark had its own qualities and peoples and I know there is more yet to learn. My chip and my chair aren’t gone yet, but the odds are completely stacked against me.

I guess that’s where hope comes in yet again. Starting out on this crazy adventure, I wondered how America would receive me. Young, old, liberal, conservative, Cubs, Dodgers, what would I see? I can honeslty say that my belief in people is at an all time high. I won’t lie and say it’s not like a drug calling to me. The idea of one more road trip or one more amazing person to meet tears at me, but I have to work with what I have because as Mick Jagger loves to belt out, ” You can’t always get what you want. But if you try sometimes you just might find. You get what you need.”

I am not exactly sure what it is I need, but I keep turning over rocks and turning pages in hopes of a clue or more of an answer. My father went to the hospital yesterday and I asked him how it went when he came home. “Terrible.” My first thought was the tests went bad and how bad was it. He explained how everything came to a stop as they rushed in a 92-year-old man into the emergency with a trauma one. He had shot himself in the head and would die 15 minutes later.

It hit me hard because I empathized with that man what it took to get to that point. He had probably lost all his friends, was probably in poor health and just had given up. It put all my sadness into perspective immediately. Yes, I wanted another shot at America, but at least I had the hope this poor man had lost.

I wondered if he had shed a tear at seeing the most beautiful fire fly in St Louis or had known the roar of the crowd at Wrigley? Had he driven the back highways of middle America and listened to a lively conversation about back yard groundhogs in a Dairy Queen. Mostly, I wondered if anyone had slowed down to listen to his story, because now it was too late.

Rocky Mountain Way will continue on. Should I find the money to restart this journey, I may be in a town near you. Until then be good to your neighbor because they are probably a lot more like you then you think. Hug a loved one because they may not know what you feel and the next time at the ballpark take it all in, not just in a hurried rush to get to your seat and kill time, but take it all in because you never know when it could all end.

LIke this sign in Nebraska said…

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