I confess that there are two Colorado entities that I’ve remained skeptical of in recent years: The Fray and the Rockies.
Even as The Fray rose to super stardom, I was never comfortable listening to their music. I’ve never been comfortable listening to The Fray because I think their songs are dreadful. I cringe and turn the dial whenever KBCO plays a new Fray single. The group’s trite, overwrought lyrics are not even a guilty pleasure. The Fray is not piano rock or an alternative rock band. The Fray is yet another bad Christian rock band represented and popularized by Sony. That’s it.
I did not attend Denver East High School, but I nonetheless maintain strong ties to the institution. Two of my brothers went to East and many of my friends are Angel alumni. None of them are proud that The Fray featured the East High campus in a 2005 music video.
A typical fan of The Fray takes solace in the band’s hackneyed sound. Fans find lead singer Isaac Slade’s fauxhawk, faith, and pain (and his faith in pain) curiously endearing. I’ve been told that one should listen to The Fray to sooth the soul following a break up or to boost morale after a steep fall from grace. I however would play the band’s latest album, the self-titled hit “The Fray,” on a loop to initiate a break up. I am fairly certain that I could end our relationship by drowning my girlfriend in the group’s collective sorrow and confusion. The track “Where the Story Ends” seals the deal. Hearing that song for the eighth time undoubtedly convinces her that I am so depressed and emotionally frail that I cannot even help her pack up her belongings before she rushes out my door.
The Fray is not a good band. They choke on their own melodrama while Slade wishes he were David Gray. Though the band’s members hail from Colorado, it is unfortunate the group recently headlined the Mile High Music Festival. The song “You Found Me” sounds like something a fourteen year old falls in love to at Bible camp. I hear the band’s next project will be laying down the soundtrack to Young Life’s rendition of “When Harry Met Sally.”
I have been unwilling to trust the Colorado Rockies for much of the past decade. Truth be told, I gradually lost interest in the Rockies. As a little leaguer, I was overjoyed to finally have an MLB team in Denver to root for. I remember attending the Rockies’ second game at Mile High Stadium. I purchased a pennant that read “I Was There!” and displayed a large illustration of the stadium. Upon returning home from Mile High, I promptly used a sharpie to mark where I had sat at my first Rockies game. The pennant stayed on my wall for several years, and the little black “x” between first base and right field continued to reinforce Rockies optimism.
My passion for the Rockies faded due to a combination of factors. For one, I stopped playing baseball. It was therefore easy to cease caring about the Rockies as the Blake Street Bombers disbanded, the losses piled up, and the franchise introduced Dinger as the team’s mascot. It was somewhere between the birth of Dinger and Denny Neagle’s infamous car-date on Colfax that I gave up on the Rockies. I did not necessarily care about Neagle’s legal woes; I was actually much more disturbed that the most shameful mascot in sports history represented a Colorado team.
Denver’s baseball culture waned following Y2K. After leading the major leagues in attendance during the mid-1990s and proving that Denver was indeed a baseball town, things went utterly wrong at Coors Field. And people, including myself, could not have cared less.
I moved to Boston soon thereafter and discovered a true baseball Mecca on Lansdowne Street. I was taken aback by the rich tradition and history of the Red Sox. Everyone in Boston followed the Red Sox. The Red Sox are to Boston, as the Broncos are to Denver. Red Sox games are always televised, and more importantly the majority of the public always watches them. When I lived in Boston, local sports radio hosts spent hours debating then-manager Grady Little’s decision to remove Nomar in the seventh inning of a seemingly meaningless May game against the Texas Rangers.
The truth is that no baseball game is meaningless in Boston. Far too many Red Sox fans care about their favorite franchise year round. The same can be said about the New York Yankees and their fan base.
Baseball is inescapable on the East coast. Red Sox and Yankees fans are like soccer hooligans in Europe or futbol fanatics in Central and Latin America. I discovered a much more exciting brand of baseball in Boston. Fenway is never empty and tickets to the big games are nearly impossible to acquire. Attending a Red Sox-Yankees game is a privilege, and going to Fenway during the playoffs will change any sports fan’s life. Yet, Bostonians and New Yorkers are equally humbled and rowdy when they attend regular season games. Their relentless enthusiasm amazes me. We are not as constantly passionate about the Rockies because professional baseball is not as significant in Denver as it is in Boston or New York.
Though Rockies fever enveloped Denver during the 2007 playoffs, I remained skeptical. At heart, I feared becoming a bandwagon fan. I had just spent the majority of a decade disinterested in Rockies baseball. It was not that I disliked the franchise. Rather, I simply did not feel anything for the Rockies because I had not tracked their successes and failures since I was a pre-teen.
Rocktober ’07 was an interesting period of my life. It brought about more personal reflection than admiration or excitement. I nonetheless emerged from Rocktober just as I had entered it: disinterested in the Rockies and pissed off that Dinger still existed.
This summer I decided to make a concerted effort to fall back in love with the Rockies. I followed the team in the Denver Post and on ESPN.com, but these articles did not suffice. As a last resort, I read Michael Lewis’s book Moneyball. It is now safe to label me a “changed man.” I see the game of baseball in a whole new light. I watch games unfold pitch by pitch and truly appreciate the value of homegrown talent. If you are reading this column and have not read Moneyball, finish reading this column and then go read Moneyball. You do not even have to like baseball for the story to fascinate you. The book alters the way one views and dissects professional sports.
It also explains the current make up of the Colorado Rockies. The Rockies are one of the MLB’s premiere “moneyball” teams. The franchise creatively and frugally fills the holes on its roster with savvy veterans and efficient role players, while simultaneously growing talented and uniquely effective minor league prospects. Dan O’Dowd’s tendency to decline huge paydays to homegrown Rockies not named Helton and Francis is not such a travesty after all. Furthermore, it is actually a boon that O’Dowd often acquires notable players during the last year of their contracts only to part with them at season’s end (i.e. the Jason Marquis situation). Baseball, like finance, is a transient business; understanding when to let go of an asset is as important as knowing when to acquire it in the first place.
Truth be told, I did not attempt to reconnect with the Rockies on my own volition. My good friend Kevin, a New Yorker now living in Denver, convinced me to give the Rox another shot. I am already glad I did. I publicly re-pledge my fanhood to the Colorado Rockies! So there. I said it, and I promise I mean it.
I nevertheless remain unapologetic about my years of ignorance. It was a dark period for baseball in Colorado, and I proved my worth by refusing the urge to jump on the bandwagon during Rocktober ’07. I would be forced to repent if I had immediately fallen back in love with the team during the World Series run. But I didn’t.
As a testament to my commitment to the Rockies, I will attend two of the Rockies upcoming away games against the New York Mets. I’ll dig up my Dante Bichette shirt, travel to Citi Field, and root for the Rockies.
I’ve officially restored my faith in the purple and black. And no, I will not celebrate by listening to The Fray.
P.S. Thanks, Kevin. Maybe Yankee fans are not as evil and selfish as I previously thought…
Check out Dan O’Dowd’s mid-season assessment of the Rockies
Like father like son? Take a look at Dante Bichette Jr.’s home run during the ’05 Little League World Serious. Also, pay attention as proud coach Dante Sr. cheers from the bench. We miss you, Dante.