Immaculate Vibes at Coors Field for Rockies Walk-Off Grand Slam | Westword
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"A Party's a Party": Rockies Fans Bring Party Vibes to Coors Field for Opening Day Walk-Off

The Colorado Rockies are off to one of the worst starts in MLB history, but you wouldn't have known it from talking to fans on Opening Day.
The Colorado Rockies took on the Tampa Bay Rays for Opening Day at Coors Field this year.
The Colorado Rockies took on the Tampa Bay Rays for Opening Day at Coors Field this year. Chris Perez

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The Colorado Rockies were off to one of the worst starts in baseball history, but that didn't stop fans from bringing immaculate vibes to Coors Field on Friday, April 5, for Opening Day.

"The Rockies are going to win!" said Randy Dominguez, a Denver native who's been going to games since the early ’90s, when the Rockies had just started as an MLB franchise and were playing at Mile High Stadium.

"I don't care about all that stuff," he told Westword about the team's bad start, while getting ready to down a tequila miniature outside Coors. "It's Opening Day, and we're here to have a good time."

Dominguez, who was with his son and some of his friends, turned out to be right about the outcome: After going down 7-6 in the ninth inning, the Rockies made it an Opening Day for the history books with a walk-off grand slam by third baseman Ryan McMahon to win the game.

The game winner makes McMahon just the third Rockies player in team history to ever hit a walk-off grand slam; the others were Charlie Blackmon in 2020 and Ryan Spilborghs in 2009. It also makes him one of just four players in MLB history to hit a walk-off grand slam on Opening Day, according to MLB.com.

In addition, OptaStats reports that Friday’s win marked the first time in MLB history that a team had given up a four-run lead in the ninth inning and then hit a walk-off grand slam.

It was a result that many people didn't see coming, with fans telling Westword they were entering Coors Field with extremely low expectations, seeing how the Rockies — now 2-6 on the season — were dead last in the MLB in runs scored by opponents heading into Friday, with an average of 8.29 runs scored against them. Colorado also had the league's worst run differential (-34) heading into the home opener.

But the atmosphere was anything but sad on Blake Street yesterday.
click to enlarge Fans pouring into Coors Field on Friday, April 5, for the Rockies home opener.
Fans poured into Coors Field on Friday, April 5, for the Rockies home opener.
Chris Perez

Fans Just Can't Quit the Rockies

"We've been going every Opening Day for the past ten years," Maria Nichols told Westword while getting ready to go inside Coors Field with her husband. "And we'll stay behind the Rockies, even if it's bad."

Season ticket holders Danny and Heather Austin, who have been coming to games and Opening Day since 1996, are in the same boat. "It's a crapshoot," Danny said. "You never know what you're going to see. Mainly, I just want to see good baseball."

Danny and Heather, a former Rockies employee, pointed out how they've always seen people be positive and cheerful on Opening Day, and they hope to see it consistently backed up on the field one day.
click to enlarge People celebrating Opening Day for the Colorado Rockies.
Bars on Blake Street and around Coors Field were packed for Opening Day.
Chris Perez
"They're ready to win," Danny said of Rockies fans. "We're just always optimistic. Even halfway through the season, you'll see, we're still optimistic."

Heather believes the 2007 season — when the Rockies shocked the sports world and went to the World Series — plays a major role in Colorado fans having high hopes. "You just never know," she said. "You've just got to keep rooting."

Joseph Geary, a Denver retiree, attended his first home opener on Friday since the Rockies' days of playing at Mile High, before the team moved to Coors Field in 1995. "My last one was at Mile High," he told Westword, describing the scene back then as "pretty cool" and "old school," like the old Denver Bears minor-league team.

Today's vibe is more like "a rave." But, hey, Geary's not complaining.

"I figure, a party's a party," he said, laughing. "I don't [care if the team's good or bad]. I come out to see the people, the stadium. This is one of the oldest stadiums in the league now."
click to enlarge Fans gathered in McGregor Square on Opening Day.
There were numerous events around Denver on Friday for Opening Day, including parties at McGregor Square and elsewhere.
Chris Perez


Fans Blame the Monforts, Not the Players

Many people whom Westword spoke with on Friday suggested that the Monfort brothers should just sell the team and let someone else take a crack at handling baseball in Denver.

Of course, fans still care about the Rockies and the team's success on the field. But as the Austins point out, there's really only room for positivity at the moment, seeing how the team’s primary owners, Charilie and Dick Monfort, haven't been putting the same monetary effort into building the franchise as other Denver teams have been in recent years.

"What else do we have to do?" said longtime fan Steve Greer. "We love Rockies baseball, but we're not here supporting the team. We're here supporting our happiness."

Asked what he would say to fans who were skeptical of attending Rockies games right now because of the team's record, Danny said: "Tell them to go to another sport, like hockey or basketball, where they actually spend lots of money [on the teams]. Because the Rockies just don't like to spend money. So because of that, these are just kind of our expectations right now."

Ronnie Cardenas, a longtime fan attending the game with her friend, admitted that it's the ambience and stadium experience that keeps her coming back to Opening Day each year, and not the product the Monforts keep trotting out. Heck, she even named her dog after one of her favorite things about Coors Field.

"She's my Rocky Dog," Cardenas said, paying homage to one of the stadium's most popular (and devoured) eats, a foot-long hot dog often loaded with condiments. "She's a female, and I still had to name her Rocky Dog."

Bringing people in Denver together and "having a good time" is what is most important to a lot of Rockies faithful, Cardenas told Westword. Many fans say they couldn't care less about losing records and historically bad stats.

"We're all just looking to have a good time," Cardenas said.

"And a beer and a dog!" her friend added.
click to enlarge A 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air outside Coors Field.
Dave and Karen Thaler have been bringing their purple 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air to Rockies games for over a decade.
Chris Perez

Why They Keep Coming Back

The Rockies’ status as one of the worst teams in baseball didn't stop Dave and Karen Thaler, car aficionados from Wheat Ridge, from continuing their decade-long tradition of bringing their purple 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air to Coors Field for a cruise around the stadium for fans to see.

"People come down, get pictures by it, and then they'll have that to remember for their first game or Opening Day," Dave said, adding that it happens whether the team is good or bad.

The Thalers believe that one of the reasons people keep coming back to Coors Field with high hopes is because of the Monforts' business model.

"They run the Disney World business model," Dave said. "You build a beautiful place, it's clean, it's family-friendly. You come for the experience. Whatever is on the field is secondary. And that's how they get away with it."
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