I’m driving the Rockies bandwagon … for now
October 19, 2007
Nobody believed me at the beginning of spring training when I scouted the Colorado Rockies pitching staff and predicted that, with the expert handling of the brilliant gamesman, catcher Yorvit Torrealba, it looked like they had the potential to finish the season very strong. You laughed when I said that Matt Holliday was not only swinging the bat well enough to win a batting title, but that he just might blossom into a premier player in the league. There was snickering when I boldly stated that Troy Tulowitzki was the best 23-year-old shortstop I have ever seen, and the front-runner to win the National League Rookie of the Year award. I screamed from the Continental Divide that our team was not only the best in the West, but the Central and Eastern divisions, too!
If only I had stopped listening to your howling, trusted my instincts and plunked a C-note down in Vegas on my beloved Rockies making it to the World Series, I would be $30,000 richer right now. Aargh! There’s no line at the window where I should be cashing in my ticket.
Alright, enough with this silliness ” the truth is that I’ve been a rabid Rockies fan for only about a month. I’m not foolish enough to have been loyal any longer than that. The fresh-out-of-the-gift-shop black hat on my noggin is a dead giveaway that I’m new to rooting for this fall’s good guys. I had to fight with a mob of other new fans for a place in the cash register line to drop 30 bucks for the pre-bleached style, made to look like it had been washed in tears and wrung out through hundreds of lousy high-altitude losses over the years.
But, I’m a fan nonetheless, damn it. And, just because you have been using Rockies radio broadcasts as background noise while tinkering in your garage, or have habitually tuned in to games during the later innings to ease your insomnia for the past 10 years, doesn’t mean you’re more entitled to cheer now than I am.
I am a “bandwagon jumper” and proud of it, mostly because of the vast support group. If you were truly on the proverbial bandwagon before our Rockies began rattling off wins more frequently than real estate developers rattle off “community benefits,” I guarantee that you were lonesome. There wasn’t even a band until the team won about six in a row late in September, and even then it was only a second-seat flutist wearing ankle-length man-pris and a Broncos hat.
Call me a front-running cynic, but continually loyal Rockies adoration over the past decade can only be explained by a weird fetish for pinstripes, purple and a parsimonious front office. It couldn’t have been about the baseball or the players. Until now, prospects have consistently been sub par, and faces in the Coors Field clubhouse changed more often than those in Dick Clark’s mirror. This team, our team, all teams, are here today and dismantled tomorrow.
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This is why we can all be excused for the happiness we only have recently found in our beloved Rockies, no matter who we used to cheer for.
“Root, root, root for the home” team is a line from the old seventh-inning ditty that is now more of a stretch than ever and implies only conditional support for local professional teams. “If they don’t win, we will change” is the modern team owners’ motto. “So it’s one, two, three collective bargaining sessions, or we’ll strike” is the players’ response. And, that’s the way it goes, “at the new ball game.”
All through childhood, the Cincinnati Reds was my team. I followed them through thick and thicker. Then, by the late 1970s, most of my heroes had retired, and I began switching from one team to another, continuously evaluating and choosing the ones I liked. I became a traitor. How did this dredge of allegiance come about? I didn’t change. Professional sports did. They became traders.
The advent of free agency ensured that revolving doors are the cornerstones of locker room design. Players follow big money contracts from city to city. It is every man for himself and, unfortunately, the end of teams as we knew them. These aren’t your father’s Giants. Today’s Braves are tomorrow’s Astros, Angels and A’s. Yankees, Red Sox and Cubs are no longer players; they are trademarks, in the truest sense of the hyphenated word.
Still a huge fan of baseball, I now desperately seek those teams ” you know, the endangered species of sport, where, in the never-ending shuffle of athletes, a unique group of talented players end up magically together ” that, for a short period of time, work together to beat the hell out of the other groups of individuals amalgamated under the names of localities, catchy logos and familiar color combinations, all for the sole purpose of immediately maximizing their individual net worth.
Enjoy it while you can. Because, ironically, winning is the nail in the coffin for a team. World Series heroes generally catch a ride on the next Brinks truck heading out of town. This doesn’t mean we have to despise them, it simply means that we have to watch them play in different uniforms next season.
It seems that the true teams now come together only by cosmic accident in these times of egocentric paychecks and perpetual lineup shifting. That real teams sprout up haphazardly across our nation only for short periods of time causes me to constantly shift my loyalty. So what? I have evolved with the times.
In this era of product branding, I refuse to be sucked in to worshiping a regionally ubiquitous logo, which promises nothing except that nine players, yet to be determined, will be on the field next spring. I’m an old student in the new school ” I am a fan of game, not the uniforms that are marketed to us by owners who can no longer provide familiar hometown heroes whom in seasons of despair we might place faith in the cry, “wait ’til next year.”
What I do know is that the Colorado Rockies are the real team of this year. They play with heart. They play with joy. They play for each other. And most important, they play for us. It appears that understand that what they do is entertainment, and they are doing what it takes to keep us completely entertained, night after very late night. Yes, I am a front-runner, and this is my team, for now.
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