Any Denverite worth his weight in infrequently used outdoor-adventure gear was at the first Colorado Rockies home game on April 9, 1993. If your parents were too lazy to get tickets or too strict to pull you out of school that afternoon, you're allowed to do something to punish them, like pierce your nose or have a baby out of wedlock. Because on that fateful day, 80,277 people who weren't you packed Mile High Stadium -- a Major League record at the time -- to witness the birth of baseball in the Rockies. And oh, how we were rewarded. In the top of the first inning, leadoff batter Eric Young -- EY, as he was known then; E-4, as he would come to be known -- took it to a full count against Montreal Expos pitcher Kent Bottenfield, and then, with one swing away, popped a homer into the left-field stands. The crowd exploded. The first batter in the first Rockies home game sends one into the bleachers! It couldn't have been scripted better. Later that inning, third-baseman Charlie Hayes belted another homer, triggering an 11-4 Rockies victory.
As the fans shuffled out of the soon-to-be-demolished stadium, moving like cattle down ramps that groaned with every step, we knew that we'd witnessed something special. We realized that with the arrival of Major League Baseball, our city, too, had arrived. We were proud of our new team and felt the promise of things to come.
Boy, were we fucking wrong.
Twelve years later, the Colorado Rockies are the whipping boys of the Major League, a Bad News Bears of a squad -- except without the happy ending where the Bears get their shit together and actually win. Although the Rockies sniffed respectability in 1995, they haven't done anything since, unless you count trading away all their talent and pissing off fans. Since 1995, they've had only three seasons where they've played above .500 ball. Christ, the pitchers can't even figure out how to buy decent-looking hookers.
Still, my father attends games with a consistency that would stagger even Lou Gehrig. Because my dad is a true baseball fan who goes not to see the Rockies, but baseball itself. Like any fan of the game, though, he wants his squad to be good, and like any fan, he's pissed off by the truly inferior quality of the Rockies. So every year, when the team's representatives call season-ticket holders to ask how they enjoyed their Rockies experience, my father lets them have it.
After that first season, he complained about a particularly grating theme song that blared through the P.A. system at every single game. Remember? First this harsh, radio-DJ-like voice normally reserved for people with nicknames like Wolfman or Howling Jack would come on and scream, "What do you love? Baseball, Rockies style!" And then a godawful call-and-response power ballad would play. "How can we know if we love baseball, Rockies style, when this is their first year?" my father asked the Rockies representative. "What exactly is baseball, Rockies style?"
Losing, we now know.
Contacted after the last season by a septuagenarian unfortunate enough to come across his name on the Rockies ticket-holders' list, my father told her how he really felt. "It is a close question for me whether the Rockies are a class A or AA ballclub," he said. "The only real skill these owners have shown is getting rid of players we all enjoyed watching. I'll continue to keep my seat because I love baseball, even minor-league baseball, but I have given up on the possibility of the Rockies actually winning. You've managed to run the team into the ground."
Hope that old gal was wearing her medic-alert bracelet.
I know exactly what my dad will complain about at the end of the upcoming season. Not the record -- he likes that the team has young pitchers with nothing to lose and enough sluggers to get some runs -- but Generation R, the Colorado Rockies' new marketing campaign. Intended to champion the youthful energy and dogged determination of the veterans in the clubhouse, Generation R will include billboards, streetlight banners and signage downtown, as well as spots on television and radio, in-stadium promotions and merchandise.
Hey kids, what generation are you? Generation R! As in Retarded, losing Record, iRRevocably teRRible, and Relocate the fRanchise. Jesus Christ, I could shit better ad campaigns. Some of the other features of Generation R:
Unlimited passes to Dante Bichette's swinging 17th Avenue cabaret
Every 40,000th fan through the gates gets to pitch an away game
Highlight reel consisting entirely of balks
Provocative downtown billboard featuring pitcher Shawn Chacon wearing nothing more than batting gloves and a smile
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Hipper, youth-oriented in-stadium activities like "Skateboard the Rockies" and "Punch Freddie Benavides in the Face"
In second game of all double-headers, outfielders replaced by drunken, irritable colubus monkeys
Signed copies of Clint Hurdle's new autobiography, Jump: The Hurdles I Hurdled
Promotional Dinger children's T-shirts, 50/50 poly-cotton/steroid blend.