Shelby Harris, meet Greg Holland. As happy Denver Broncos fans filed out of Sports Authority Field at Mile High around me on Monday Night, the alert came in on my phone. “Rockies win again,” I yelled. The announcement was met with cheers from the crowd. Two important games ended in tandem to sighs of relief.
Yes, the Broncos were able to hold off the Chargers on Monday night, a feat that seemed both inevitable and impossible at different moments during the season opener. Still, the bigger story this week was the Rockies’ six-game winning streak during a crucial road trip.
The Rockies were Colorado’s summer darlings before Broncos training camp started. Quickly, the Broncos were kings of Denver again. After the Rockies’ seven years of ineptitude, it was hard for Denver to root for two teams.
The Broncos’ preseason coincided with a Rockies depression. August became the Rockies first losing month of the season. Attendance dipped and the Rockies played desperately, trying to keep the fans on their bandwagon. They could not.
The Rockies spent last week choking away a home stand. The bats fell silent, the pitching was all over the place. The expanded rosters make games in September longer. When your team is blowing their Wild Card spot with a 3-6 home stand, each second is agonizing.
The Rox hit the road last week for a brutal eight-game road trip. The trip included four games each against the two best teams in the National League West, the Dodgers and Diamondbacks. My hopes were low. If Colorado did any worse than .500, they might have been out of the playoffs before returning home.
The image of a turnaround happened in the second game of the road trip – Friday night. Chris Rusin quick-pitched Justin Turner for a strikeout to get out a jam. The bullpen pitched eight innings of scoreless relief that night and the Rockies held on thanks to fifth-inning situational hitting and Carlos Gonzalez’s resurgence.
It was just one of their six brilliant wins. I’ve rarely called the Rockies brilliant in the last 25 years.
Rock This Broncos Town
The Broncos are Denver. You don’t have a choice about being a Broncos fan, it’s part of the city’s identity. Even being in the stadium for the home opener is a spiritual experience. Denver is a Broncos town by birth rite and a sports town by choice.
To the Denver sports fans, the Rockies are a part of the conversation alongside the Broncos. With a 6-2 road trip at the perfect time, the Rockies provided the night-to-night must-see TV.
Still, many push the myth that Denver is only a football town. Nowhere has this been more present than on the airwaves in Denver. The Broncos bought a share of a radio station, now an all-Broncos station, and another signal in town has gone out of its way to be a nothing-but-Broncos station for over a year. Both are no longer meeting the needs of the average sports fan in Denver.
The idea of “Broncos only” fans fell away inside the stadium on Monday night. I talked about the Rockies score with ushers, beer vendors and friends at the game. People are excited by the Rockies. Denver wants another Rocktober.
Those that only see Denver through orange-tinted glasses are missing out. By finding a voice in mid-September, the 2017 Rockies team is a success. If they make it to the playoffs, we’re likely to remember the 2017 Rockies more fondly than the 2017 Broncos.