Thursday, May 03, 2007

Rise Up, Ye Purple Proletariat

(My rallying cry to my compatriots at Purple Row:)

What color do you bleed, anyway?And no, I'm not going for anatomical correctness here, otherwise we'd all be shuttled off to the hospital posthaste for reasons worse than having a fanatical devotion to our team. Which, hey, is not all bad. Now remember, no matter how depressed you are, no cutting yourself, not even to find what color you do in fact bleed. We know that it's purple and black and that's what counts. If you should happen to fall accidentally at a party, it's a great trick. But still, remember, children, don't try this at home).

So it has come to my attention that after last night's admittedly demoralizing loss to the steroided-up mass of bovine muscle and inflated head otherwise known as Barry Lamar Bonds, the whole of Rockies Nation is crying out to the heavens to know what they ever did to deserve being a fan of a constantly bad team. I myself, while inherently optimistic, am guilty of such lamentations and have joined my fellow purple-clad brethren while blaming Clint Hurdle, Steve Finley, Garrett Atkins, Steve Finley, Chris Iannetta, Steve Finley, John Mabry, Steve Finley, Nikita Khrushchev, Steve Finley, the Apollo 13 mission, the Walrus and the Carpenter, the kitchen sink, and Steve Finley for inspiring such bad luck in our boys. As fans, we love to theorize and dissect. We want to know what is wrong with Atkins' swing (and his defense) right this minute. We demand to know why in the hell we were forced to have the Terrible Twosome hit right one after another in the ninth inning, and of course we were second-guessing like crazy the reason that they ran Francis out for the eighth. We bitch and bellyache and threaten to leap off bridges. Then the next night we eagerly gather in the game thread and go at it again. If we were mental patients, we would make a fascinating study.

So why do we stick with our team? And why am I doing this? For one, I'm still in my scheduled procrastination time, which means I don't have to attempt to be productive until after lunch, and two, I was thinking about this last night, having stayed up past one yet again in order to watch what turned into yet another loss. There has to be something in our brains that makes us take the masochism day after day. So I thought about writing something funny, perhaps a parody of the "Knights of the Round Table" from Spamalot, but I realized that a) it's awfully hard to rhyme "Coors Field" and "hot dog" as well as "Camelot" and "spam," and b) it would just make everyone wonder what the heck I am smoking out here on the East Coast to keep my sanity until semester's over. (The answer, for your information, is nothing. Drug free, proud to be).

So I decided to do something else instead, on this long, boring off-day with no Rockies game to look forward to at the end. Whatever that chemical trigger in our brain is, that little bugger has got us good. We can thump ourselves on the back and proclaim that we are true fans, which may be true; if not, it makes us feel better. But it's true that this is a 14-year-old franchise that's just gotten going and hasn't exactly had its heyday yet, and despite the numbers of people who just like to see a game and go out to the park if they feel like it, the Rockies franchise does have - as exemplified by the membership of this site - a devoted, passionate, caring fan base that sticks by their team through all the bad times, even without any real good times to balance them out. We don't have a World Series title (or two, like the Marlins, our brothers in expansion, who have had some worse times than us to go with their rings) or even a championship series appearance. The last time we were in the playoffs, Dante Bichette, Larry Walker, and Vinny Castilla were our big stars, Don Baylor was managing, and Bob Gebhard was at the helm. So take that, Yankees fans, rooting for a team that's like Chevrolet or Coca-Cola, you with all your rings and legacy and nah-nah, hah-hah, how you liking that losing April? (Shhh... but we would like a good season too can you give us one of those 97-winners okay please thanks).

Yes, times have changed. But after suffering through the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune known as Mike Hampton, Charles Johnson, Jorge Piedra, Denny Neagle, Tom Goodwin, Neifi Perez (and, one hopes, Clint Barmes) we have built a core that rivals that the original Blake Street Bombers. We have good players again! It's a marvel. Matt Holliday, Garrett Atkins, and Brad Hawpe (and yes, the latter two will start hitting again) are stars. Tulowitzki and Iannetta are getting there. Helton is experiencing a massive reawakening. I know the reason I watch this team, even though they daily drive me to contemplate the merits of psychiatric medicine or a long walk off a short pier.

I love our guys. Holliday's big, goofy grin (which always makes me grin too), Atkins' funny ears and great smile, Hawpe's ski-jump nose, Tulowitzki's eagerness, Iannetta's brains, Cook's red hair (and his recovery), Hirsh the giant, Kaz the midget, even Helton's House of David homage. They're my boys. I feel like they're family. While this is wildly inaccurate in a genealogical sense, I sometimes feel like I pay more attention to them than I do to my actual family, so it's not all wrong.

I love baseball. We all do. I have pictures of Coors Field and tickets from games last year taped up on my bed. My baseball hats are on the end of the bed, my posters above it, my numerous baseball jerseys and shirts stuffed in my increasingly disordered drawers. I mentioned this in my post before Opening Day, but we watch the Rockies because we love our guys and we love the game. And that, to me, is one of the best things in the world. Last night in the game thread, we were sharing our experiences of how much we're addicted, and you know what? If there's a 12-step group for weaning your addiction to baseball, then I want to see it fall into Clint Barmes.

The management drives me nuts. It drives most of us nuts to some degree. But I'm not watching the team to carp on Hurdle's latest ill-advised decision (such as, say, Finley and Mabry pinch-hitting back to back? Yes, I'll get over that one, sorry). I watch the team to see the guys play. Because there's always that hope that something good is going to happen. And it does. This season hasn't been all bad. We could be the Nationals or the Royals. But hey, we're not.

I don't blame anyone for being frustrated. I have not enjoyed our assorted losses. I tend to think that we are inventing new ways to blow games, not hit in important situations, or implode on the mound. I myself have vented, stewed, bubbled, and mused, losing more minutes off my already scanty sleep time, as I wonder what in the heck can be done to pull all this talent we have together into a cohesive unit. I always think that the answer is a) Fire Clint Hurdle Now! and b) Free Ryan Spilborghs Now! But that's beside the point. We all have various theories. None of them might actually work in reality. But we're so involved that we're busy dreaming them up anyway.

The Rockies can be a tough team to root for. They can be so stubborn and they don't seem to realize the talent that they have. Everyone thinks they know what parts need to be moved, adjusted, promoted, demoted, expunged, included, prioritized, and eliminated. But that's what we do as fans. When the game comes down to the nine guys actually taking the field (and only nine, we don't have the DH because we're better, take that, Yankees. Nyah. We don't care that your DH hits 30 homers or so a year. We're still better. Nyah. Stop waving that championship banner, you haven't gotten one since 2000. Nyah) they're the ones playing it. All the outside influences in the world don't matter when it's those nine guys on that field with the ball, the bat, the glove, and Steve Finley, and because we are Rockies fans, they are ours. So let's keep on giving them all we've got. *

Besides, you think this early-season skid is bad? Wait until September, when we're tied with the Diamondbacks for the wild-card lead and Hurdle gives the ball to Hawkins in the eighth inning of the tiebreaker....

* I am not responsible for any insanity, mental breakdowns, depression, slipping job/school/home life, neuroticism, paranoia, general lunacy, prescription medications, divorce lawyers, irate bosses, high Internet bills, high therapy bills, or assorted other detrimental side effects that may result from following my advice. Some restrictions apply. See store for details.

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