Opening Day and the Starma Express
I think that it is no big surprise that my sport is baseball. It embodies not just entertainment for me, but so many intrinsics. This year however we stepped across the line into the metaphysical (kind of appropriate for the first home game of the season).
The plans for attending the Rockie’s home opener were as they should be, because they included myself, my wife, and our best buddy Susan the baseball slut. Jean-Marie had a meeting in Denver prior to the game which left Susan and I not only to our own devices but standing in some nameless intersection on the south end of Denver. This was best for Jean-Marie’s schedule and it was no big deal for Susan and I, as we could easily catch the light rail to down town and the stadium.
Once out of the car, we set off in the general direction of the nearest light rail stop, but knowing the direction in general is completely different than finding that thing specifically. Crossing the street we were separated from where we wanted to go by a campus of identical view blocking high tech industry buildings.
Shrugging we ventured forth hoping we were picking the right direction but having plenty of time to mess up. It was at this point while walking and discussing our confusion that an overly cheery voice from behind us called out, “The light rail? You guys going to the game?”
Turning we saw that the bubbly voice belonged to a young professional lady with an id badge dangling around her neck and a cup of Starbuck’s coffee in hand almost as big as she was. “You don’t need to go that way, just go this way and follow the road, then go between the two white buildings to a path that runs along the interstate and you will find the light rail.”
All the while I am thinking, “Go to the light…rail” and smiling inside. We thanked her profusely and she laughed and said we were lucky to be going to the game. From the way she quickly bounced out of sight, it was obvious that this was not her first cup of coffee for the day and probably would not be her last. We had a good laugh the rest of the day at her directions as there was not just a single pair of white buildings but many sets of them before us. Which had she meant? It didn’t matter, we had a more specific general direction, and she had her coffee – the circle of life.
Our auras had just been given a boost by an enlightened being high on life and caffeine to the point of achieving that blissful state simply known as Starvana. It was from that rarified place that she graced us with her wisdom and shared with us some good Starma earning some for herself in the process.
Writing Cowboys and Baseball Sluts
Starma in hand, we found the train and boarded a car full of Rockies faithful bound for Coors Field. Being some two and a half hours before the start of the game, this was a good omen. In no time the train dropped us near the 16th street mall and we grabbed a free shuttle from there to a point in the opposite direction from where Susan thought the ball park out to be. This is unusual as Susan general has the best sense of direction of anyone I know, but she was still recovering from a stomach and respiratory illness, so I generously cut her some slack.
From the bus we walked down 20th to Blake, and from the moment we set foot on that path we caught our first glimpse of Coors Field that we would have this season. It was all I could do to hold back the tears at the sight of my Cathedral and my expectations for the mass that is baseball with its communion of hotdogs and beer. As it was, I found myself blocking traffic in the middle of the street so I could get a picture of my first glimpse this season of those hallowed grounds.
With Mickey’s little hand on 11 and big hand on 6 we made our arrival only to find the stadium gates locked and guarded by the purple clad elderly for another half hour. I think we could have taken them in a fair fight, but numbers were not in our favor and besides, getting smacked by a walker could leave a mark. We would find something else to do before the noon time gate unlatching.
We talked it over and decided to head to the south side of the stadium and find “The Brick,” which coincidently not only is the item purchased by Susan and her sisters to honor their grandpa, but was also her grandpa’s nickname (coincidence? I think not). But before we could embark on this quest, I spied a familiar form out of the corner of my eye. Turning, I couldn’t believe it. There, walking by the gate we had just left was none other than Rocky Mountain News columnist, and Baseball Hall-of-Fame journalist Tracey Ringlesby! (Perfect name for an old-school baseball reporter)
I had to get his picture, so I raced over and yelled, “Hey, Tracey! Can I get your picture?” The large man in the trademark cowboy hat turned and grinned and said sure. So I snapped it, and then he came over shook my hand, took my camera and handed it to one of the purpled stadium workers and said we should get one together. I called Susan over and he quickly moved between us and said, “I want to stand by you,” as he put his arm around Susan. Tracey and the Slut, how could this day get better?
The Starma Just Keeps on Rolling
Riding high on our brush with fame, we made it over to the bricks and not only managed to find the one Susan and her sisters bought, but we also found the one Susan’s cousins had purchased to honor “Brick” Nesbit. The tale of the bricks is a Starma story best saved for another time. We took the obligatory photos, and made our way up to the nearest gate. The big hand had a fast approaching date with the little hand straight up, and with that the unlocking of the gates to the hordes hungry for baseball after a long, cold winter devoid of any real sports.
We made it past the elderly who were the first line of defense against terrorist and opposing fans at the stadium without incidence. Without hesitation we visited the nearest “Beers of the World” cart, and each got a cup and walked over to a portal to look at the sacred green of the home of the Colorado Rockies. We looked down, seeing players playing catch, and taking batting practice. Susan wondered if they would let us down the lower level to watch the practice, and I said it couldn’t hurt to ask (all the while fearing that since we held tickets for upper deck that it could hurt to ask).
It seemed, however, Starma still ruled the day as the nice lady simply stepped aside and we went down to sit behind the third base dugout. The sun was hot, the day was gorgeous, and we saw the lightening quick hands of Todd Helton giving a clinic to anyone who wanted to watch him in the batting cage. It was awesome, what else is there to say. We just drank it all in, occasionally annotated by the usher who filled us in on little known ground rules, the heated turf, and Coors field drainage (apparently it had been a long lonely winter for him as well). Finally we drained our beers, and went up to the concourse to await Jean-Marie and then to find our seats.
The Pink Crew In Force
Jean-Marie arrived at the stadium with plenty of time until the start of the game even though she was forced to park in Wyoming. With hugs all around we found the escalator and ultimately the upper deck. Jean-Marie already had a gin and tonic that I had waiting on her, and now it was time to get food for all and some more beer.
With hands full and rubbling stomachs, we climbed up the stairs of our section up to our seats, and what to our wondering eyes did appear – Starma! Our seats were in the purple row signifying the place in the stadium that was exactly 5280 feet above sea level, how cool is that. If you have to sit up high, might as well make everything about it memorable.
Seats nestled beneath our tushes, drinks well on their way to being downed, and hotdogs long since gone to our bellies, we talked of seasons past and the season before us. We could feel the energy and the electricity coalesce until they ignited in a passionate discharge as 50,000 people rose to sing the national anthem, revere a flag literally as big as the outfield, and welcome baseball back for a new season to the mile high city. We couldn’t wait for the first pitch.
I will not bore anyone with the play-by-play. It is sufficient to say that De La Rosa put on a superb pitching display, the Rockies bats were lively, and Tulo’s butt was stared at continuously throughout the game by Jean-Marie and Susan. Given the ideal weather, and the winning game, the day was perfect. It was perfect right down to the group picture of Jean-Marie, Susan, and I with our now traditional pink attire. It was perfect right down to the young man in the row below us (the row NOT 5280 feet above sea level row) asking me, “Why do you wear a pink hat?’ It was perfect to be at the game, to witness the seasonal rebirth, and to be sharing it with people I love. It was Starma, Starvana, spring, and perfection. It was time to be no longer of this world for three hours and escape into the wonder of the Game.