I want to raise my children as Rockies fans. However, encouraging them to support a team that is not only a consistent loser but also seems to readily accept that lot is irresponsible…

The Rockies need to be a part of what makes Colorado great, not just the place we go for peanuts and Cracker Jacks.
– Brian Kurz, father of two, teacher Cherry Creek SD, ex-season ticket holder
Denver Post Op-Ed, Feb. 22, 2015


While my deepest internal resource for writing sports is baseball, I find it increasingly difficult to write about the earliest game of my youth. As the game remains mired in the metered molasses of its eternal poetry its description is slathered beyond recognition with clichés: The thrill of the grass, peanuts, popcorn, Cracker Jack, frosty beer, snapping dogs and all that rot.

What remains to be said about the game?

Or so I said to my editor who was trying to pry one more baseball piece from my recalcitrant MacBook.

“Hey, it’s the ‘Baseball Issue,’ Pencils,” he said, as if this mad mod mag was introducing a sequel to the “Sermon on the Mount.” “We’ve got to have a baseball essay from our top writer,” he said with a straight face before he launched into a coughing fit that ill disguised his discomfiture at bullshitting one more criminally underpaid hack on the MHSM payroll.

“I can’t produce one more ‘Hope Springs Eternal’ Rockies column,” I countered.

“You renewed your season tickets, didn’t you?” he jabbed, as if I’d just bought another Denver Art Museum annual pass, which died in my wallet after its first and only use. “Why not explain to our gentle readers why you renewed those tickets to Denver’s biggest sports scam?”

That got my dander up. I was no sucker, no mark, no frivolous spender of ill-gotten disposable income.

I started to compose a logical response to his illogical question, but he had already showed me his back as if he was returning to his corner after decisively winning the first round of a title fight. Since I’ve resolved to never enter into another dialogue with my insensitive editor, he’ll have to read my response, just as you, my gentile readers, are doing.


Why I Renewed My Rockies Tickets

The Tickets

Let’s get something straight right off the Louisville Slugger. I don’t own season tickets. I’ve been a part of a group of friends of North Denver winemaker Paul Bonacquisti, who has owned Rox season tickets since 1992 when he slapped down a $50 deposit for two sets in row 29 at $16 a seat.

He has tried to keep the group at nine, because of the obvious baseball symmetry of the number and the fact that nine divides nicely into 81 home games. He also realizes that at any given moment in time, no one, particularly an up-and-coming wine baron, can afford to have more than eight vino-swilling friends.

The “Draft”

So on Jan. 28, I wrote a check to Bonacquisti for $684 for the privilege of attending our group’s annual “draft,” held each March at the Bonacquisti Wine Company, located since its 2006 inception in the Denver Sunnyside neighborhood at 4640 Pecos. We sip Bonacquisti Vinny No Neck Sangiovese (named in honor of his son, Vincent) and each member of the group selects nine games. Section 35, row 22 (he tries every year to move our seats closer to the field), seats 9 and 10 are located behind the visitor’s dugout on the third base side and offer an outstanding view of the pitcher, the batter, the right field foul pole, along with a proper mix of sun and shade, depending on the time of day and the season.

Long-time members of the group (which has waxed and waned over the years) have come to realize that you can get almost every game you want – except the Yankees and fireworks – because no one selects games based on the quality of the Rox opponent. Instead, you hear comments like, “I’ll take the Tulo Bobblehead Night on June 10” or “Give me the Pirates on August 4; Aunt Hermonia from Pittsburgh’s coming to visit.”

There’s really very little baseball talk, just a general hangdog camaraderie and acceptance that we are all fans of a second-rate ball club. We know we’re being scammed at $38 a seat, but we pony up every year as if we were filing our taxes.

Bonacquisti, Ex-Ump and Winemaker

I asked the certified sommelier and former graduate of the Joe Brinkman Umpire School (he wanted to ump professionally, but didn’t make it) why he keeps renewing the ducats. He stated simply, “For the experience of being at the ballpark.”

I’ve Got My Reasons

I suppose my reasons are basically the same as Bonacquisti’s, but since I don’t have a winery to run, I’ll go into a little more detail.


I used to like to enter Coors Field from Blake Street, but the bars near the stadium have lost their luster and the trumpet player has longed been silenced. I now prefer the Wynkoop Street entrance, where I tread lightly over the engraved bricks that people bought in their euphoria for the long-awaited arrival of a major league team.

And I never fail to stop for a moment while passing under “The Evolution of the Ball,” the arch designed by sculptor Lonnie Hanzon. As a kid, I was seldom without some kind of a ball in my hand and I can think of no subject more worthy of art –especially near a ballpark – than the ball. The 108 3-D tiles remind us not to take our balls too seriously; in addition to traditional balls there are oddballs, wrecking balls and debutante balls. “Evolution” puts me in the right frame of mind for watching a game.

The Denver ChopHouse, Brewery and Parking Concession

It’s somewhat of an indulgence (and rip-off), but I like to valet my car with the friendly guys at this Denver institution. If it’s a big game (for the Rockies, that means a big opponent like the Yankees), they’ll nick you for $25 for parking, but go in and slosh down a couple of $4, hand-made beers before the game and you’ve already started saving money over the ballpark prices. It’s just a class joint with great servers, authentic food and reasonable-for-the-quality prices.

Fado’s Front Porch

In the shadow of the “Evolution of the Ball,” the Irish bar Fado’s sits. There’s nothing better on a warm afternoon than lounging at one of Fado’s outdoor tables, sipping a Harp, munching on a Reuben and watching the fans funnel into the northwest entrance of Coors Field.


The camera zooms in on Billy Crystal sitting at Yankee Stadium, noting that the only time he and his father talked was at a baseball game. I hope I’ve had some relevant conversations with my son outside of Coors Field, but baseball does provide ample opportunity for father-son verbal interchange. If he’s not texting, of course. And this might be the year that the twin grandsons, now five, start their baseball indoctrination. But I won’t tell them to become Rockies’ fans; that’s their decision.

Who Owns this Team, Anyway?

Who owns a city’s team is a complex social question. The players and coaches are merely hired mercenaries, vowing their lifetime allegiance until they find a new signature on their paycheck. The actual owner has to realize that the local citizenry will assume ownership of the team without ever risking a dime of its own money. And those same citizens will be quick to turn their backs on the team when it’s down.

The mystery of the Rockies is that they continue to draw more than 30,000 fans a game (above the MLB average for the last six years), while the general population never speaks of the team. When was the last time anyone ever came into the office bubbling over the Rockies game the previous night? Ask 10 people on the street whether the Rox won the previous night and nine will give you a blank stare. My theory is that the team is supported by tourists. Or that Dinger has a large extended family that he supplies with free tickets.

Anyway, I don’t want to own a baseball team. Even if I had the dough, I’d get physically ill signing a bi-weekly check for more than $600,000 to an injured superstar. So, you can call the Rox “my team”; I’m happy just to rent them for a few hours on a sunny day.

The Ballpark Experience

If you’re really a baseball fan, all the peripheral stuff is just stuff. It’s the game that matters, and here’s what I like about what Bonacquisti calls the “Ballpark Experience.”

The Team

People act as if the Monforts never spend any money on players. Tulo and Cargo are big-ticket items and a thrill to watch when they’re healthy. I consider it a privilege to have watched Tulowitzki reinvent the position of shortstop during the past decade. I love the passion of 24-year-old Nolan Arenado, who is creating his own legend at the hot corner. It’s a treat to watch Jorge De La Rosa battle the thin air demons from the mound at Coors Field.

I loved watching NL batting champ (tainted, as Walt Weiss sat him down for the last two games of the season) Justin Morneau’s sweet left-handed swing. Willin Rosario’s struggles behind the plate – while he’s quite respectable at the plate – are of ongoing interest. And getting to watch Methuselah (42-year-old LaTroy “No Longer a Boy” Hawkins) as a closer is an interesting, if short-lived, opportunity. A potentially longer storyline is the emergence of Corey Dickerson, born in Mississippi just 26 years ago, as a big-time left-handed power hitter (24 home runs in 131 games while hitting .312 last year). A lot of teams don’t have this many ballplayers who are worth watching every day.

The Game

Yes, let’s talk about the game I love. It’s a relic. An anomaly in today’s rapid-fire world. The game is too long. The season is too long. The playoffs are too short (one- and-out after 162 games?). I think each new generation finds it more and more baffling. I don’t care if my team’s roster is 25 percent foreign. I don’t care if the players are black or white or mauve. But if American kids continue to eschew baseball for other sports, what happens to your future fan base?

Hopefully, new commish Rob Manfred is the man to shake up the game that Bud Selig so assiduously preserved. And it will take a lot more than requiring the batter to keep a foot in the box between pitches.

That said, the game is a glorious ballet of lulls and explosions, triumphs and futilities. The triple, the double play, a sacrifice bunt, a perfect relay to nail a runner at the plate, the shortstop digging out a screamer in the hole, the leaping catch to deny a home run, the magicians of the mitt at first base, the stolen base. The home run. It’s a helluva game if you’ll just pay attention.

The Ballpark

I’ve been to almost every big league ballpark (except Miami, Tampa Bay, St. Louis and the new Yankee Stadium) in the country and, aside from history and nostalgia, none is better than Coors Field. It’s a jewel in a fantastic setting. And during those lulls in the action, there’s so much to see. I like watching the right field scoreboard to see how the Pirates are doing. The vendors, led by Bob the Beerman and Falsetto Freddy, are an unending source of entertainment.

My favorite games are those weekday get-away 1:10 p.m. games. On a spring day, watching the parade of women – cleavage and legs emphasized through guile and style – endlessly up and down the steps is a spectacle all its own. Do they ever watch the game? Do we care?

And there are foul balls and songs and loud drunks and old guys who keep score and wide-eyed kids at their first game and couples who can’t keep their eyes off each other.


And though I rave on about the pace and the duration of the game, I love the sense of the continuum of baseball. Sometimes, it feels as if the players and the fans are merely a part of an unrelenting evolution, past and present and future melding together, results meaning nothing as long as the game goes on.

“Irresponsible Acceptance,” My Ass

I am going to take issue with Mr. Kurz, who seems from his essay to be a generally intelligent and erudite gentleman, although he just couldn’t resist the peanuts and Cracker Jacks cliché, could he? And I’m sure that Mr. Kurz is a great parent, but perhaps he takes the job a little too seriously. Equating the baseball team allegiance of one’s children to responsible parenting seems a little over the top. Do today’s parents really agonize over such things?

Why has mediocrity become such a crime? It’s a game ferchristsake. Better get the rest of your life in order if the success of your city’s team equates to your own well-being.

And Colorado was great long before we had a Major League Baseball team and it will continue to be great if we never win a World Series. Chicago seems to have done all right despite the Cub’s century-long futility.

If I sound like an apologist for the Rockies, I, well, apologize. It’s not that I love the organization or think that they shouldn’t do more to try to win (although I’d like to see Mr. Kurz tackle the GM job), it’s just that I don’t care that much. I’m tired of everyone trying to fix the Rockies. I’m just happy we have a major league team, a great stadium, an idyllic climate and that I can afford to take someone I care about to nine games a year.

Do I hope the Rox win the pennant? Of course. But in my mind, the 2007 pennant and playoff run, winning 21 of 22 games leading up to the World Series, built up a reserve of excitement and goodwill that can never be totally depleted. Were the Rockies and the organization trying any harder that year or were they just a part of the continuum, the recipient of Fate’s fickle good graces?

I’m tired of everyone trying to fix the Rockies and I don’t feel irresponsible for accepting their losing ways. I’ve learned over the years that winning is overrated and overemphasized in our culture. It beats losing, but you can’t win all the time.

I hope my kids don’t think I’m letting them down, but I’m just going to the ballpark this year and root, root, root for the home team. If they don’t win, it’s… all right with me.