THE GRAND YOUNG GAME

In Denver, however, the chain is but a few links long.
That's not to say fans here don't have their own big-league baseball pasts or their passionate loyalties of yore. Almost everyone in this city is from somewhere else, and that usually means someone in your section was there when Koufax threw a no-hitter, or spilled a beer at Shea when Mookie's grounder scooted between Billy Bucks's legs, or reveled in the several triumphs of Charlie Finley's Oakland A's. Wrigley Field? Duke Snider? The art and wisdom of Satchel Paige? These and other baseball glories usually remain as close as the fan on the next bar stool. So do the treacherous times. The Curse of the Bambino. The sneer on Chick Gandil's face as he conspired to fix the 1919 World Series. The bewilderment of the Cubs as they slid to oblivion in 1969. Merkle's Boner. Mickey Owen's dropped third strike. These, too, are powerful memories, the fabric of life.

By contrast, the Rockies haven't had a chance to really thrill us yet. And they certainly haven't had a chance to betray anybody. So we cut them slack, we fans. This exciting new club already stirs up deep emotions, but it doesn't have enough backlog of history to be at fault for anything. And it doesn't have many sacred traditions to be defiled. The owner hasn't yet traded Lou Brock for Ernie Broglio or failed to win a World Series since 1908. It hasn't produced a Mickey Mantle, but it also hasn't inflicted a Darryl Strawberry on the faithful. Memories are building up in the book, but most of the pages remain blank.

So Colorado Rockies fans wait and see and--here's a miracle of the age--they still trust.

"The Show is just beginning," a graying Cal Ripken Jr. announced at the start of last week's All-Star Game. "Let's celebrate!" Here, more than most cities, baseball lovers could actually take him seriously.

And that, it says here, is why the cops are chasing the scalpers.

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