Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Stopping to Smell the Tears of Giants Fan Roses

One of the biggest pitfalls I've encountered in any passion I've ever undertaken is getting too involved to just enjoy the activity for what it is. To hear me talk about the Rockies most days is just to hear me groan about how something else I've invested a good chunk of my life into is consistently letting me down, in a very visible and obvious sort of way.

The Rockies, over the past 3 seasons, have combined for a 192-268 record. They're terrible. Their failings as a franchise have been well documented and lamented by Colorado sports fans as a whole over the past 21 years. I've seen them at their best and gotten to attend 2 of 3 playoff runs and only missed 1 of those October games (Game 4 2007 NLCS - what the hell were we thinking only getting Game 3 tickets). I've gotten to witness some incredibly exciting baseball being played right here in my home city. It was great. In a sense, it meant something, because in those moments, I was able to just turn off everything else in life and get completely sucked into the games. I used to be that "heart attack" fan something something Brian Fuentes. I'm just not that fan anymore.

It sucks being a Rockies fan. It sucks being the fan of any consistently-losing franchise, for that matter. I get cynical. I start to join up with the other grumbling fans and get really sour on my team because let's be honest, there's not much in baseball that can take the wind out of your sails like a bullpen implosion. You see, we've dealt with that on pretty much a nightly basis this year.

I'm giddy right now though. It's the evening of Labor Day, 2014, and I got back from the Rockies-Giants game about an hour ago and now I'm sitting on my front porch enjoying the warm evening, listening to some super crunchy '93 Phish, and I love being a Rockies fan.

Maybe more specifically, I love beating the Giants.

The only fanbases that actually care that we're around absolutely hate us, and none more than the Giants fanbase.

My "prime" as a Rockies guy came from '09-'11 when the Giants and Rockies were really at each others' throats. Tim Lincecum became the poster boy of this hatred with his Juiced Ball Bullshit moment, and Jon Miller became the Voice of the discord with his further complaining. Ryan Spilborghs taking Merkin (snort) Valdez yard on 8/24/09 for a walkoff Grand Slam was our rallying moment, and sure, we lost to the Phillies in the NLDS, but hey, we beat the Giants, right?

To this day I absolutely HATE playing the Giants. Two World Series wins have emboldened the San Francisco fanbase, and suddenly the traveling Giants Faithful is a LOT more visible in Coors Field than I recall seeing before those years, and a lot more audible as well. 

On Labor Day, 2014, the Rockies walked off against the Giants on what will be remembered as a barely remarkable game. But we beat the Giants.

It was my 2 year old niece's first baseball game, and she was so well behaved. We took her to the little tiny kids playground over by the Root Sports postgame booth behind CF, and I bought her a cute little Rockies baseball cap to wear. It's pink. She really wanted the pink one. Pff, girls, right? Well, my little niece got to watch the Rockies walk off against the Giants in her first baseball game which I'm sure she'll remember forever.

My favorite part of September is the first game with the first wave of callups. Rafael Ynoa went 3-for-4 with a few suspect plays at 2B. Ben Paulsen ripped a PH home run over the manual scoreboard. Charlie Blackmon took a pitch off of his laces into RF.

Like, look at that thing. That's the kind of pitch Vlad Guerrero does something with. This is why I love and hate Rockies-Giants games: stupid stuff is gonna happen. It's way more fun when the stupid stuff happens to the Giants. Because when stupid stuff happens to the Giants, the Rockies generally win.

Of course, any Giants fan will happily counter my schadenfreude-fueled joy with the simple fact that they're still what, 2 games back from the Dodgers in the NL West, while the Rockies are the worst team in the NL?

Ha ha you lost to the worst team in the NL ha ha

The Rockies have Jordan Lyles going up against Yusmeiro Petit tomorrow and Christian Bergman facing Ryan Vogelsong. I might watch some of those games, I dunno. I haven't really found the time to watch all that many games this year.

But hey, we beat the stupid Giants on Labor Day. That was pretty great. And I have the scorecard to prove it.

See, the thing is, I miss feeling this way about baseball, and a lot of that is due to the fact that the Rockies are just terrible these past few years. It's hard to rally attention for an exciting victory when it's so much more likely that they're gonna get crushed. So when the team is boring because they keep losing in such predictable fashion (pitching-related), I turn to the next most interesting thing about them, and that's breaking down everything in numbers and evaluations and comparisons and analyses and all that. Problem is, when the team is losing and boring to look at, the breakdowns are going to reveal pretty much what our eyes tell us, and that's the fact that we're really bad. It's such a challenge to maintain some air of hope and not just resort to pure cynicism. Cynicism, however, makes you seem smart. And in a football-heavy town, most people don't know anything about the Rockies except for what some cynical sports writer wrote or talk show host said about them to make themselves seem smart, and so they just parrot that back because they figure the cynic was smart, so they might as well be cynical as well.

It's not a hard trap to fall into. Allow me to illustrate. 

I'm a big fan of Umphrey's McGee, sort of a prog-rock jam band that's completely awesome. My brother turned me on to them back in 2012 and by now I've seen them in 6 cities (8 if we count Morrison/Red Rocks and Boulder) and have a hard drive full of soundboards and all sorts of stuff that would indicate that yes, I'm a stupidly invested Umphrey's McGee fan. 

I went up to Portland and met up with some friends for a 2-night Umphrey's run going from Seattle to Portland, and I decided to review the shows. Summary: Seattle Set 2 was absolute fire, and the rest was pretty "meh" with the exception of "The Haunt" being played Set 1 Seattle. I mean good times and all, but I left sort of disappointed. Summer rolled around and Umphrey's played The Boulder Theater and Red Rocks Amphitheater. Good stuff, definitely a great time, but they just didn't blow the lid off like I was hoping. They didn't do anything WRONG or BAD and I had a good time, but I felt like something was lacking. When I wrote my reviews, a buddy read them over for me and said "Yeah, they were fine, but honestly? You didn't sound like you had a good time."

I want the Rockies to win. A whole bunch. I want Umphrey's to explode my head with their sheer rockandrollishness. A whole bunch. When my excitement fix isn't sated by my favorite things, my engineering mind would then ask "well why not?" and I start breaking down the things I like to try and find what's awesome and what's not awesome.

Charlie Culberson popping out to Buster Posey on the first pitch of his 9th inning at-bat is not awesome. Umphrey's playing "No Diablo" is not awesome. Ben Paulsen hitting a PH homer is awesome. A 5-song 2nd set in Seattle is awesome. Ad Infinitum.

So once we figure out the problems with the Rockies - understanding a bit more of why they lose - helps us wrap our minds a bit more around what's going on, and allows us to discuss and reason how the team could improve its outcomes. Obviously we know it's the pitching (I still disagree sort of and I guess I'll share that another time), and when we don't see the front office making the moves we'd like to see to change the team's fortunes, we begin to lambast the decision makers. And we should! We pay good money to go watch the Rockies lose.

It starts to really suck, though, when I go out to a game and the Rockies lose and all I can see is dumb decisions being made by ownership and management. And typos. Lord, the typos. This is the point where I have to stand back and say "I thought you enjoyed this - why are you continuing to subject yourself to unenjoyable situations like this?" So for a while there, I took a step back. I practically missed the 2013 season. I eventually found myself regularly checking box scores and reading up on season stats and all that good stuff, so I'd at least still be in the know.

Then games like today happen and damn that was a lot of fun. They played a really fun extra innings game against the Marlins the other week. Man, baseball's fun. Sucks when you don't get to watch the fun stuff happen as often, but man, baseball is a lot of fun. We beat the Giants in one inconsequential game. 

I do love beating the Giants.

No comments:

Post a Comment