When you live in Albuquerque, you don't have any strong geographic relations to any sports teams, especially baseball. Before the Colorado Rockies began play in 1993, the closest professional baseball team was in Los Angeles. Not exactly a day trip to a game.
You see a lot of Yankees and Red Sox hats around town. And, of course, the Dodgers. For years, the Albuquerque Dukes were the AAA affiliate of the Dodgers and we got to see players like Pedro Martinez, Mike Piazza and many other future Dodgers play at the old Dukes Stadium.
Like what I assume would be many Dodgers fans in New Mexico, I had never seen the Dodgers actually play in person until this year -- this weekend in Colorado, in fact. I had previously only seen two MLB games, the San Diego Padres hosting the St. Louis Cardinals during Mark McGwire's 70 home run season (McGwire hit a home run) and two years ago the Chicago Cubs at Coors Field.
Colorado is about a 7 hour drive from Albuquerque. With a stop at the girlfriend's family's place in Colorado Springs, it isn't too bad of a drive through picturesque Northern New Mexico and Colorado. Denver has a great downtown and it extends to Blake Street, where the Rockies call Coors Field home.
The main course for my weekend was, of course, the game at Coors Field. We had Club Level seats which were great (here is where I would show you pictures, though they are still on the girlfriend's camera) and had a great view of Hiroki Kuroda going up against the Rockies.
I won't go into too much detail on the game (Eric had the recap here) but I'll give some initial impressions. I was very happy to see Kuroda get a win and even happier to see the home run by Rod Barajas in the third inning. The Tony Gwynn Jr. home run? While most of the rest of the crowd was distraught, I was over the moon. I mean, two home runs in one game for the Dodgers? Who would have guessed?
Being at the stadium is definitely a different experience. I didn't get to check in on the latest news and didn't know why Andre Ethier was out of the lineup. I didn't know why Barajas left in the sixth inning. All I knew is the Dodgers won, the rain was cold and the beer was good.
After a somewhat wild night in downtown Denver (even if I remember the details I wouldn't write about them here) and surprisingly not being hungover the next day, we decided to risk the sun and go check out another game at Coors Field. This time, we had seats in the upper deck. And I mean upper. We were actually looking down on the purple row (not to be confused with Purple Row) from some vertigo-inducing heights. Oh, and it was Ted Lilly pitching in the day in Coors Field.
Watching Lilly throw his 84-mile per hour fastballs past hitters was actually fun to watch. Watching him give up an early home run to Todd Helton (on Helton's birthday, no less) exit early in the game because of an injury was not as fun.
But I'll remember the game for being over five hours long. I'll remember it for seeing Aaron Miles, the gnome himself, hit a home run in extra innings -- and Trent Oeltjen run around the bases in the correct direction for an inside-the-park home run.
Sure, Javy Guerra ended up blowing a save thanks to a 15-pitch at-bat with Helton where Helton nearly decapitated multiple fans with foul balls and the Rockies went on to win, but I'll forget about those and remember seeing the good stuff l saw this weekend.
I saw Hong Chih-Kuo strike three completely outclassed batters like it was 2010. I saw Gwynn score from first on a single by Justin Sellers. I saw Sellers make some nifty plays at shortstop and saw Aaron Miles walk. Twice! In one game!
All in all, it was a great weekend and was very fun to watch the Dodgers play. I'm already planning on finding out if Chase Field will be as hospitable and fun to watch the Dodgers next year.