Well between yesterday and today we have a study in extremes. Today the weather was gorgeous, Larry Walker was back in the lineup and the Cards lost.
I made it to ballpark a couple hours early to catch some batting practice and enjoy the sights and sounds of Coors Field. There's just something about a nice summer day and baseball that seems to fit. Watching Izzy hang out by the left field line and sign autographs for the kids, having a Rockies player playfully chide the wall of Cardinal fans when they asked for a ball by pointing to his hat to indicate that they were wearing the wrong colors and marveling to myself that, if there had been any tar in a baseball it had to be gone after Reggie Sanders and Albert Pujols finished their round of BP.
The starting lineups were announced and Larry Walker got a warm round of applause from the crowd who were happy to see him back. I was seated next to a man who had brought his 4-5 year old nephew with him. "It's his first game," he told me. "I probably shouldn't have gotten such good seats because he's not going to remember it." We chatted back and forth. He was a Braves fan who had come from Kansas. He said he had moved to Denver and now came to games. "I just love getting out and watching baseball," he told me.
The ballpark is one of the few places that complete strangers seem to have no problem just kicking back and chatting. I've been to a few other sporting events but baseball seems to me to have a deeper sense of community than others. You'll always have a loudmouth who is neither as funny nor as clever as he believes or (as was my case) a know-nothing pundit who makes you recall Woody Allen waiting in line for the movie in "Annie Hall" but even in those moments there seems to be a larger current of people coming together to enjoy something. Maybe it was just the $6 beer talking.
My neighbor and I talked about our respective clubs as Mark Mulder and Jason Jennings pitched effectively. I was amused when Mulder got a hit in his first at-bat and we were all amused when Tony LaRussa put him in motion on the very next pitch to Eckstein. He proudly showed me the ticket stub that Jason Isringhausen had signed for his nephew. Not a bad draw for a first baseball game if I do say so.
We paused as Mulder gave up a long ball to Dustin Mohr and then appeared just shaken enough to give up another to the next batter, Todd Greene. There were glimmers of hope when the Rockies defense showed a poor grasp of fundamentals several times, but the pitching seemed to pick up where the gloves failed.
While the final result was a Cardinals loss, it was hard to feel too bad about it. We'd been treated to good baseball in gorgeous weather and for a moment it seemed that everyone was happy with that. I know I was. As my neighbor put it: ‘I just love getting out and watching baseball…"