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On the other hand, a Rocky game is essentially a kegger. There is a lot of evidence that (thank goodness) the fans aren't even paying attention. When they asked the millionth-through-the-turn-stiles, Lydia McKee of Littleton, Colo., to name some players she liked, she said, "The first baseman, whatshisname? Oh, yeah, Andre Scalarraga."
It's being there that counts. During one Thursday afternoon game at Mile High, the local cellular-phone network reported a 300% increase from the same period in the previous week. "I'm calling from the Rockies' game" has replaced "Meet me at my Vail condo" as the coolest overheard sentence in town. Of course, an orange-underweared Bronco fan would no sooner pull out his cellular phone during a game than have his nails done in the fourth quarter.
Bronco fans come to Mile High to have their souls saved. Rocky fans come to get a cappuccino and a foul ball. The Rockies are not a part of the emotional fabric of Denver the way the Broncos are, and they likely never will be. One is a pastime and the other is a passion. It is like the difference between tickling a baby and having one. One enjoys the Rockies. One endures the Broncos.
But if the Rockies do not have live-or-die emotion on their side, they at least have sweet promise. And, yeah, it might take six Clydesdales and an International Harvester to drag some decent free-agent pitching into a park where routine fly balls end up in people's snow cones, but Baylor will have to change his home phone number to get away from all the righthanded power hitters who want to come. "Mark McGwire?" said Daulton. "He might hit 75 homers here."
And the best part for the Rockies is that when this honeymoon is done, they'll begin a second one with the opening of their own Camden Yards-like downtown ballpark, Coors Field, which was designed to hold 43,800 and will be ready for the 1995 season. Want to know something? Not a single Rocky crowd yet would have fit in Coors Field. It's a fact not unnoticed by McMorris.
"The newspapers say we're greedy for wanting to expand it," McMorris says of the team's decision to foot the bill for a redesign that will add another 1,500 seats to Coors Field. "But I get letters. 'Please, Mr. McMorris, be sure we can get into the new park.' It's simple. The working people have to get into that new park."
Let's see now.... McMorris has the lowest payroll in baseball, among the highest profits, some of the best TV ratings in the league, a new stadium that the six-county metropolitan area is building for him absolutely free (except for the extra seats), and fans who are begging him to make that stadium bigger so they can pay him many dollars to get in. Explain to him again: What's wrong with baseball?
No wonder there is the feeling in the West that there is something charmed about this franchise, something that makes you believe that even if the Rockies exceed the Mets' record of 120 losses this season, they could go on to unthinkably glorious things.
To wit: When the Rockies opened at home against the Expos on April 9 before that unprecedented throng, their first batter up, Young, drove a 3-2 pitch into deep left centerfield. "I hit it pretty good," says Young. "But I didn't really think it was going to go out. I think the fans took over and made it go out." It went out.
Even with all the come-from-behind, no-hope, AFC-championship-on-the-line miracles that have taken place on this field, Mile High Stadium shook that day as it had never shaken before. Longtime NBC broadcaster Charlie Jones, the Rockies' television broadcaster, calls it his biggest professional thrill. "This is the Broncos' yard," says Young. "But for just five minutes there, just for a little bit, it was our town."