Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Despite poor baseball and meaningless games, Colorado Rockies fans have grown up

Watching Matt Holliday hit home runs in September brings back memories.
A few years ago, as the nights became more crisp, and the sun went down a little earlier, Colorado Rockies fans were confused.

This was the time of year when Rockies games meant little and the focus turned to the Broncos. Instead, the boys of summer were playing into the fall and it wasn't about getting minor leaguers some big league action. It was in games that mattered.

There had to be a certain sense of nostalgia for Rockies fans as Matt Holliday belted out four hits, drove in three runs and fell just a triple shy of the cycle. His home run was a muscled ball into the Rockies bullpen that was more about his strength than it was about a bad pitch from Rockies reliever Rob Scahill.

St. Louis came in to Coors Field on Tuesday night with an ax to grind. The Rockies had de-railed them on Monday and they missed an opportunity to gain a game on the Pirates, one of two teams they are duking it out with to win a National League Central crown. On Tuesday night they played with a sense of urgency and the Rockies were clearly outmatched.

With the Rockies long out of the playoff race, it is hard not to admire the battle that the Cardinals are in. St. Louis, 120 years into Major League Baseball is a city that is used to these battles. They are familiar with the anxiety riding on every pitch. They understand the importance of each play. The baseball tradition in that town has been handed down from four generations of parents rooting for the guys red shirts with birds on the bats.

Besides a quick run to the playoffs in 1995, Rockies fans have just two years of fun Septembers to remember. Those late season games were uncharted territory for Rockies fans, and frankly, they didn't satisfy the desire for late season baseball, they created a strong desire to have those Septembers happen more often than not.

Many times Rockies fans get a bad rap. However, it must be noted that baseball fans in Denver have started to take the next step in their baseball knowledge. Going back to Todd Helton's quest for 2,500 hits. With the game wrapped up against the Reds, Helton was sitting on 2,499. When fans normally flood to the gates to beat traffic in the 8th inning, not a soul moved. Helton was due up in the bottom of the 8th with a chance to reach a milestone.

Rockies fans not only stayed to see if it would happen, they stood to their feet and applauded as Helton strolled to the plate. Helton didn't come up with a hit, but Rockies fans realized the gravity of the situation and were more interested in what was happening on the field than what they were missing on the streets of LoDo.

When Helton reached his milestone hit, fans didn't have to be prompted by the scoreboard. They stood in applause of their first hero. The ovation was no short one either, they applauded Helton long after he tipped his cap and tried to end the awkward moment he was experiencing being in the spotlight.

Again on Monday, after Helton officially announced that he would be moving on from baseball after these final weeks, Rockies fans didn't disappoint in their applause for No. 17 when he stepped to the plate for the first time on Monday night.

Frankly, three years ago, moments like that would have been missed by the average fan at Coors Field. The majority of the crowd wouldn't be aware of the situation and even after the scoreboard announced the feat, they probably wouldn't have known just how special the milestone was.

The 2013 Rockies fans, the ones who have become accustomed to bad baseball, have suffered enough to know what good baseball looks like. The suffering for years has led to an appreciation of a guy like Helton, who gave them glimpses of greatness in the midst of losing baseball.

The Coors Field faithful might not have the history of meaningful Septembers, or grinding out tough victories in July because it might matter in September, but the small taste of winning, followed by futility immediately afterwards has seemingly solidified Rockies fans resolve and the knowledge of the game.

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  1. St Louis enjoyed the BP that the Rockies gave them in the game last night.

  2. "bad baseball"..."losing baseball"..."futility".. Ya got that right.