Last week the Rockies turned in a series of surprise pitching performances on the road against their division rivals in both L.A. and S.F., completely baffling the baseball world. It started with a 2-0 shutout and a 3-1 stifling against the Dodgers, then a 3-0 shutout against Lincecum and the Giants.
But just when the extremely naïve, optimistic, and desperately positive sides of our baseball-loving selves might’ve been reactivated for the first time since early May we were brought back down into our collective pit of despair. The Rox quickly gave up 18 runs in two games against the Giants and their rather underwhelming offense.
Well, just in time to head home to Coors Field where Rockies pitching this year has been absolutely horrendous. As you might’ve guessed by now, Colorado leads the majors in several dubious categories:
* Most home losses (37)
* Highest BA against (.310)
* Highest ERA (6.14) and WHIP (1.63)
* Most Hits (666), Runs (391), Earned Runs (361), and Home runs (92) surrendered
But as much as the front-office would like to blame the home ballpark for their misery and failure, nobody’s buying it. Ironically, people are still buying tickets to be at the beautiful ballpark in LoDo despite being exposed to the actual playing of another baseball game. And although our previous poll here at BSB revealed a strong number of people refusing to go to another game this season, the Rockies remain in the top-half of the majors in total home attendance. I wouldn’t be surprised if people continue to cram into Coors Field for the rest of the season with no intention of watching any baseball at all.
Simply put, Coors Field is a magical place. First of all, the Denver weather during a baseball season is spectacular. It’s always sunny in Denver (not Philadelphia, as the tv show would have you believe). Even during a spontaneous snowfall, or after one of those Venusian lightning storms with brief monsoon rains, we’ve got storybook sunshine all the time.
And how about those views. Nothing beats the panoramic of the mountains from the third deck down the right field line. The ballpark itself is an architectural delight, providing unique perspectives of the diamond from every seat in the house, yet also interesting enough to wander around the place if the game gets out of hand.
It’s the first ballpark to have a microbrewery inside the stadium (only fair, considering the naming rights were basically given away to that crappy local macro-brewer), and it’s the only place where you can get Rocky Mountain oysters.
But I don’t need to tell this to all of you. It’s most of those other writers in the country of baseball that don’t seem to appreciate the magic. Case in point: ESPN’s Battle of the Ballparks.
In case you missed it, ESPN did a bracket-style battle a while ago between the 30 MLB ballparks based on a set of criteria devised by Jim Caple.
Out of the 30 MLB ballparks in the bracket, Coors Field got an 11-seed. Not even in the top 10!? Just like the CU Buffs in 2011, Coors Field got snubbed here. Of course we Rox fans are biased, but even an unbiased fan who’s been to the ballpark in Denver will tell you it easily makes the top 10.
If we go along with Caple’s criteria for what makes a good ballyard, it’s hard to imagine ten other stadiums out-ranking our own.
- Location – LoDo and NoDo ballpark neighborhoods are as vibrant as any in the country, with tons of bars, eateries, music venues, and street vendors. Very down-to-earth, upbeat, and friendly atmosphere.
- Architecture – the second in the series of throwback ballparks built with burnt red brick and industrial green beams, plenty of light and air and space inside with access to almost every part of the park in uncongested thoroughfares. The bullpen shrubbery and centerfield forest fountain complement Colorado’s natural beauty quite nicely. As does the dark colored clay of the infield and warning track next to the vibrantly green outfield lawn.
- History – The ballpark absolutely revitalized the city, especially the neighborhoods of LoDo and North Downtown.
- Seating – no obstructed view seats to be found, club level not imposingly large, lots of bleacher space in LF and Rockpile, angled seating, cup holders and leg room, and the purple row for those who wanna get a mile high.
- Price – Rockpile bleachers as cheap as $4, third deck seats under $20 with incredible scenic views, King Soopers ticket deals for $14 get you within 30 rows of the field down either line.
- Concessions – decent selection of craft beers for a tolerable price, a microbrew inside the stadium, gluten-free foods, big salads, Rockies dogs, bbq sandwiches, and the only park serving Rocky Mountain oysters.
- Scoreboards – not bad, but not the dominant feature. This is a good thing.
- Transportation – accessible by foot (profoundly cool pedestrian bridge going over I-25), by bicycle (several easy routes snake their way to the ballpark), by RTD (free mall ride bus, the #38, etc.), and if you absolutely have to — by car (preferably hybrid or electric).
- Roofs – don’t need one; it’s sunny all the time, we boast some breathtaking mountain views, fantastic cloud formations, Venusian lightning storms, and scintillating sunsets.
- Grass – turf would be unimaginable, even in Colorado’s dry climate. And anybody can tell you: nothing beats Colorado grass
Seems like the Denver ball yard passes Caple’s test with flying colors. Alas, our ballpark ended up losing to sixth seeded Wrigley Field in the second round. Tough bracket; at least we beat out the new Yankee Stadium.
And although football season is looming large and the Rockies are losing big, expect to see a sturdy number of fans enjoying another fabulous fall in the pitcher-unfriendly confines of Coors Field.
Just don’t expect them to be back next season.