Game Recap: Pirates 9 Rockies 4
Day 2 of my latest 4-day stadium tour started with an early AM flight out of Dallas to Denver where I was greeted with temperatures a hell of a lot colder than those I experienced yesterday.
More concerning were the overcast skies and the forecast for rain later in the day. My body was screaming for rest but I felt I needed to go out and explore as much of the city as I could before the rains came. Denver is really a beautiful city with everything you’d expect in a metropolitan setting – great restaurants, shopping, bars, museums,parks, theater, etc. – but set against the backdrop of majestic Rocky Mountains. Getting around town is pretty easy due to a great light rail system as well as a free shuttle service up and down the 16th Street Mall.
When the rains finally did come, I found a great way to spend the time by taking a tour of the Denver Mint – it was short enough to keep my interest and long enough to keep me dry. The walk to Coors Field was also great – up 16th street into the LoDo neighborhood, one of the oldest settlements in the city. My favorite section was Larimar Square where you can easily spend the entire afternoon. I had a great lunch at a place called Tamayo.
Turning right onto Blake Street takes you past Union Station which is a 100 year old landmark and the main transportation hub in Denver. It’s worth stopping in and spending some time there not just to admire the architecture but to check out all the great shops and restaurants and enjoy the vibe. Denver is loaded with great brew pubs but maybe none better than The Falling Rock Tap House on Blake Street which has over 75 different beers on tap. It's a really popular stop for pre-game beers.
In my opinion, the best stop along the way to the stadium was The National Ballpark Museum. This is a really unique place and an absolute must see for any baseball fan. The museum has a huge collection of artifacts from MLB ballparks in the history of the game.
Coors Field is on 20th and Blake right in the heart of the downtown setting. It’s in the retro style that became popular with all of the new stadiums built in the 90s using Camden Yards as their model. Coors Field still very much has the feel of a new stadium although it’s the 3rd oldest in the NL.
I got to the park early and the ushers were still drying off the seats. There was a steady drop in the temps and it was already breezy and chilly 90 minutes before first pitch. Not being prepared for the cold, I was forced to buy a Denver Broncos sweat jacket earlier in the day which almost killed me to put on given that I’ve been a hard-core Raider fan since my pre-school days.
The layout of the park is really nice with some interesting features and places to eat. I can safely say that it is probably the only major sports venue in the world where you can buy Rocky Mountain Oysters! In my opinion the best place to eat was The Sandlot Brewery – which is the birthplace of Blue Moon beer. They had plenty of great local brews on tap, a great carving station and some really cool Rockies decor.
A cool and unique section of the park is ‘The Rockpile’ – where I hear seats can go as low as $5 each. It is in the outfield upper level and offers not only great views of the field but of the Rocky Mountains as well. The area below it beyond the outfield fence has a really cool recreation of a mountain setting with giant fir trees, a running spring and huge boulders. The smoking section in the outfield had a sign reminding patrons that smoking was ok – but 'No Marijuana'.
Another cool feature was a single row of purple seats in the outfield stands marking the point in the park that's exactly one mile above sea level.
The crowd was sparse but very friendly and laid back with no one really getting on the opposing players. I got to experience some of the game play that Coors field is noted for with 6 HRs being hit – 3 of them by Pirate star Andrew McCutchen who broke out of a slump in grand fashion. The temps continued to drop steadily throughout the game. An old woman sitting in my aisle saw me blowing on my hands every 8 seconds and gave me a pair of hand warmers! I don’t think that would ever happen in New York! Once I had the hand warmers, I went and bought a pair of Rockies gloves (which I’ll probably never wear again) to put them inside. – Even with the gloves, the cold temps (now in the low 40s) got the better of me and I bailed in the middle of the 8th. I walked back to 16th street and took the shuttle back to my hotel where a nice surprise of free cookies and milk for guests was waiting for me.
Tomorrow I head to the desert of Arizona where I don't expect I'll be needing any hand warmers.
Fans - B - Friendly, laid back. Not hard core fans but supportive of their team and happy to talk baseball. Tolerant of 'outsiders'. Was given hand warmers!
Features - B - Nice layout. Easy to get around. The 'Rockpile' was a nice feature and really captured the whole Rocky Mountain essence
Location - A - Great location in LoDo - LOTS of great things to do a short walk away. Plenty of mass transit options as well.
Food - B+ - Lots of great Food Options - Sandlot Brewery, Helton's Burgers, Bernie Kabobs and (if you can stomach them) Rocky Mountain Oysters!
Game - B - You come to Coors Field expecting lots of long balls. I wasn't disappointed, I got three of them from 'Cutch' alone.
Overall - B+ - Nice park, nice crowd, great neighborhood. Lots of offense. Would have liked it better if it were about 20 degrees warmer