By Joel Warner
By Michael Roberts
By Alan Prendergast
By Michael Roberts
By Michael Roberts
By Amber Taufen
By Patricia Calhoun
By William Breathes
All right, then. Stay home. Seriously. Don't even bother with the road games. Forfeit the damn road games. That way, you guys will save the club a couple of million bucks in airplane tickets, and you'll always be able to have your eggs cooked the way you like them. You married men will probably start getting along with your wives better, too. Because you'll be spending a lot more hours around the house--taking out the garbage, fixing old leaks in the kitchen sink, making yourselves available for love in the afternoon. On the other hand, you single guys will now have time to finish reading War and Peace.
Don't ignore the other advantages. If the club plays only home games, Galarraga will be hitting about .480 by the end of the year--which might be good enough to win the NL batting title again--and Ellis Burks and the Big Cat will each have a home run for every two at-bats. Of course, a couple of your relief pitchers might gas themselves out in the garage before the end of August. But there's always a downside to baseball glory, isn't there? Besides, relief pitchers are a dime a dozen. Use 'em up and get rid of 'em, like those little cardboard cameras that come pre-loaded with their own rolls of film.
So. Stay home. Why not? If you guys simply give away your 29 remaining road games instead of wasting all that time at the park in Chicago or Los Angeles actually losing them, you'll have more free afternoons to play golf, and the risk of getting tired or hurt out on the diamond will drop markedly. Meanwhile, the team's chances to make the playoffs won't be hurt at all. If you win all 24 of your remaining home games--a pretty darn good bet--and just abandon the ones at Candlestick and Chavez and The Murph and all those other places where you play lousy ball even when you do show up, your record will be right around .500. In the National League West there are no monsters, so .500 will probably be good enough to return to postseason play. Besides, the Padres and Dodgers will be so tuckered out from standing around in the field for a full three hours every day that they won't put up much of a fight against a club that's fit, well-rested and unbeatable at 5,280 feet.
Only thing you'll need then, boys, is a good lawyer. Guy who can talk the Atlanta Braves into playing the entire playoff series at Coors Field. Hey, no problem. Take off your spikes. Put your feet up and wiggle your toes. Relax.
While we weren't looking, there's been a not-so-subtle change in the kind of jokes the belligerents in cradles of sophistication like, say, Philadelphia and Houston make about Denver. For a year or so there, the object of everyone's scorn was our problem-plagued new airport and its luggage system from hell. DIA this, DIA that. Newspaper columnists who'd never set foot in this town (or even flown over it) thought they knew all about the place. Ordinary citizens who ride three different subways to work through two hellish boroughs of New York were suddenly commercial-aviation experts. These are, of course, the same people who think that Denver is perched on a snowy mountaintop and that we ice-skate the streets in July.
Anyway, the new international joke--in baseball circles, at least--is Coors Field. From Montreal to Montana, it's regarded as the weirdest ballpark in the majors, where tattered journeymen batters are transformed into supermen, where visiting pitchers must confer with their psychotherapists before every inning, where the yakker doesn't break and banjo hitters park their bloopers in the cheap seats. But not even Bob Costas, the NBC hairdo who fancies himself a kind of TV poet/philosopher, can explain why the home team enjoys such a power advantage in Coors Field. Assorted muscle men wearing Phillies, Expos and Giants uniforms play in the same hitter-friendly conditions as the home team, but for some reason they don't make much of them. The Rockies have won 21 of their last 27 home games, including recent series sweeps against the Padres, Giants and Mets, and in the process, they have hit about 9,000 home runs.
The thing about this new smear on our fair city--the Coors Field smear--is that it's absolutely, completely true. All of it. It's a phony ballpark. The brand of baseball played over there is bad fiction. And the alleged sluggers wearing purple pinstripes in the place are the Fake Street Bombers.
Fact is, baseball numbers don't lie. As of last week, the Colorado Rockies were hitting .344 as a team at home and scoring more than eight runs per game. Everywhere else, they were batting .223 and scoring 2.3 runs--disparities so huge that they may set all-time season records. The Rox are tied with Atlanta for the best home winning percentage in baseball--.678--but their sorry road record, 16-32, is the third-worst in the game. They might have trouble with Grand Junction's Legion B club if the game was played over on the Western Slope, but they'd sweep the '27 Yankees in LoDo.