Visiting Denver – 3

Naturally, if I’m going to a city that has a major league baseball team, I’m going to plan my visit so that I can take in a game or two. I specifically chose the week of my visit because the Rockies would be at home.

Coors Field is located at the intersection of Blake St. and 20th St. in downtown Denver. This places it in the neighborhood known as “LoDo” (i.e. “Lower Downtown”). Or “The Ballpark”, which had that name before ground was ever broken for the stadium. Or “Union Station North”, since it is a few blocks north of Union Station. Or possibly even “RiNo”, which is short for “River North”.

Let’s just call it “downtown” and let it go at that.

From the outside, the stadium is a large red brick structure, to fit in with the warehouses and other former light industrial buildings in the area. There’s not much in the way of “plaza” space around it, just an unusually wide sidewalk. I didn’t approach it from the parking lot side, so maybe there’s more public space for vendors and fan gatherings there.

On the inside, it seemed smaller than it should have been. Perhaps this was an illusion resulting from the fact that once you enter from the main gate on Blake Street, you are almost immediately on the main concourse of the stadium. There are no stairs, ramps, or elevators. Go through security, get your ticket checked, and there you are. The field is supposed to be one of the largest in the major leagues (to take into account the thinner air), but it honestly didn’t seem like it to me. Maybe I was just too close to the field to really notice.

Other things I noticed is that the place wasn’t very noisy. Not that the fans were quiet (there weren’t many; the weather was chilly and probably kept may home), but that there wasn’t much in the way of music or announcements. Sure, there were the ads between innings, but it still felt less loud than other places I’ve been to. They didn’t show many replays on the scoreboard, either.

Ballpark food is presumably the same as ballpark food everywhere. Overpriced and unhealthy. But one place worth a look is The Sandlot, on the main concourse over near Section 115. Yes, you can waste your money on allegedly smoked allegedly brisket or generic nachos with generic toppings. But it is also a functioning brewpub. One other thing to note is that while Major League Baseball has decreed that all sales of alcohol in stadiums must stop after the seventh inning (no going home drunk), The Sandlot is technically an independent business – so as long as you don’t take a drink out of the place, you can still have one.

As far as the games themselves, the game I went to on Tuesday was over quickly. The Giants scored five runs in the top of the fourth, and never looked back.

Friday’s game was a bit more interesting. It demonstrated the usefulness of keeping score at home or in person, because there was a play that not only doesn’t show up in the box score, even the reporting on the game missed it.

Bottom of the fourth, Rockies leading 2-0. Ian Desmond and David Dahl start things going for the Rockies with a pair of singles, putting runners on the corners with no outs. Then, second baseman Garret Hampson comes to bat. For some reason, he tries to bunt. But the pitch is inside, and before he can pull the bat back all the way, it hits him on the hand. The trainer comes out to check on Hampson, Dahl moves over to second base (since Hampson will get first on the HBP)….then the umpires start conferring.

And conferring.

On plays like this, it doesn’t count as a Hit By Pitch if you don’t make any effort to get out of the way. Did Hampson really try to avoid the pitch? If he didn’t, was it a ball or a strike? What if it actually didn’t hit his hand, and instead hit the bat, turning into a foul ball?

More conferring among the umpires – an not a single replay on the scoreboard to clue us in.

Then the umpires had to go tell Padres manager Andy Green what they decided (it was a strike, he offered at the pitch first), and then tell the Rockies manager Bud Black why Hampson had to go back to bat.

The discussion caused a delay of something like six minutes – during which Padres pitcher Eric Lauer stood around on the mound doing nothing. No soft tossing with his infielders, no fake pitches to stay loose, nothing.

This had to have messed him up somehow, since he proceeded to walk Hampson (so all that discussion was effectively for naught).

A sinlgle to Tony Wolters, a bases-clearing double by the Rockies’ pitcher, German Marquez, a walk to Charlie Blackmon, and, with the Rockies up 6-0, two on and no outs in the bottom of the fourth, Lauer’s night was over.

It was quite clear to me at the time that the delay messed up Lauer’s concentration. And there’s nothing at all about the at-bat in the formal account of the game, or in what reporting I’ve been able to find.

However, if you’re keeping score yourself, you most certainly would have caught that – at least the lengthy delay – and could have made proper annotations on your scorecard.

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