Colorado Rockies opening weekend celebrates past and future

Sep 28, 2018; Denver, CO, USA; Colorado Rockies outfielder Carlos Gonzalez (5) celebrates in the clubhouse following a win against the Washington Nationals that secured a playoff berth at Coors Field. Mandatory Credit: Russell Lansford-USA TODAY Sports

Colorado Rockies Opening Day has been special since 1993.

It doesn’t carry the long-standing traditions that the event often holds for the oldest franchise in the league. Some teams can trot out legend after legend. Some can celebrate great winning seasons of the past. And they all have their own unique twists for their own unique fans.

But what the first Rockies game of the season means to the relatively small but no less passionate group of purple-clad die-hards is impossible to measure.

You can feel it, though.

You see, baseball is a given in a lot of cities. It has been there forever and as far as we know will continue to be. Fans of the Rockies, though, for most of their existence grew up rooting for other teams. You can see it in the blue uniforms that show up at Coors Field whenever the Cubs or Dodgers are in town.

This opening weekend, however, had a decidedly different feel. Kind of like a birthday party for a kid who is suddenly growing into their teen years.

In the first game, they lost to LA 5-2 after imploding in one inning and allowing a five-run rally. That sure felt like the Rockies we know. But just about everything else was new.

One of the fairest criticisms of this team in the past has been their general lack of either willingness or ability to celebrate their own history.

This weekend, though, saw Todd Helton named as a special assistant to the GM and basically a roving hitting instructor. Such a move both helps in terms of public relations — everyone loves Todd Helton after all — but also in a real tangible way as one of the best hitters to ever live is now helping the next generation deal with everything from MLB pitching to the Hangover Effect.

Carlos Gonzalez was in the house, too.

Ask any reporter who worked the beat during his decade-long tenure in Colorado and they will all tell you that CarGo is among the absolute best people to interview. Or even just to know. He is incredibly giving with his time, extremely thoughtful, and perhaps most importantly, he brings positive energy every day.

It would honestly be much to their benefit for the Rockies to offer Gonzalez a salary just to hang out around the clubhouse whenever the team is in town. They’ve basically been doing this with Vinny Castilla for years. And you can feel the room get lighter every time he walks into it.

A lot has been made about positive energy surrounding the Rockies over the last few months as the club has attempted to wash out the stain of how the last era ended and begin a new one with rejuvenated hope.

Seeing Helton and CarGo again is a great way to get that started.

As is the reintroduction of Clint Hurdle, the only man to ever manage this team to the World Series. Like with Helton, this addition isn’t just a name that fans like who brings good PR but he is also an invaluable source of wisdom and knowledge uniquely suited to the Rockies’ unique situation.

On the field, the energy is also flowing almost as well as the flow sported under the cap of some of the Rockies position players.

Arguably the King of the Flow right now is Connor Joe. Joe has been bringing up the vibes just by being himself since Spring Training of last year. How are you not inspired by a cancer survivor who finds a way to thrive and bring up everyone around him?

Baseball games aren’t won with vibes, though, so it’s a good thing Joe brought his glove and bat.

He has already shown to take one of the most consistently good at-bats on the roster and has been rewarded with a pair of RBI in the early going the second of which was a game-winner.

On Saturday, when Joe smashed an eighth-inning offering from Blake Treinen over the center-field wall at Coors, he didn’t just put his team in front, he stole all the momentum the Dodgers had from scratching out the game-tying run just a few moments earlier. He helped his reliever off the hook. He gave his closer a chance to do his thing.

The home team walked away with an impressive 3-2 victory in their second contest of the season behind a fantastic pitching performance from German Marquez, some gutsy work from the bullpen, and contributions from Joe, Ryan McMahon, and Sam Hilliard.

These players, along with a smattering of others, represent the hope of the franchise. Who among them can become the next Helton or CarGo? Who among them can make Coors Field the place to be on a perfect summer evening? Who among them can win hearts and games? 

The Colorado Rockies may still be defining their own traditions and understanding how best to celebrate their own culture, but for opening weekend but so far the display of the past and the future has been more than intriguing. 

The lesson of 2022 so far has been that you cannot do anything about the road behind you but appreciate the good times and do your best to learn from the bad ones.

And it looks like, in these formative years, the Rockies are learning.

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