OK, it has been about five weeks since my last column. For that, I apologize. The past month or so has been a wild ride. I’ve moved homes, tirelessly searched for employment, and developed a full-fledged addiction to Rockies baseball.
I re-pledged my fanship to the Rockies earlier this summer. I made good on this vow by traveling to Queens to watch the Rockies play the New York Mets at the end of July. My trip to Flushing had few ups and many downs. The weather was terrible, the Rockies lost both games I attended, and Citi Field is more of an amusement park than a ballpark.
I admit that Citi Field is an architectural marvel. The stadium’s façade resembles old Ebbets Field in Brooklyn, a historical MLB ballpark, and there is not a bad seat in the house. Even so, sitting in the stands comes at a steep price–both literally and figuratively. Unfortunately, Citi Field’s classic façade does not protect the sanctity of the game played within its walls.
Citi Field is the opposite of Coors Field. This is not surprising when one considers the location of each stadium. Contemporary Flushing is less charming than North Blake Street circa 1984, and Mets fans do not even register on the “classy fan” index. Furthermore, I paid $48 dollars per game to sit in the uppermost level above right field. I felt as though I was watching a ball game in Tokyo. The seats at Citi are piled on top of one another, creating a sense of discomfort and nauseating vertigo in the upper decks. Additionally, stadium patrons are bombarded by advertisements wherever they look and listen; as if vertigo was not enough to contend with when seated in the uppermost reaches of Citi Field.
Seriously, every inch of the new stadium was sold as ad space. Even the structural beams supporting the right field box, known as The Pepsi Porch, were not off limits to corporate sponsors. The constant flash of neon product names at Citi could trigger a seizure. Worse yet, the Mets shamelessly play loud advertisements on the stadium’s HD jumbotron in between outs. This has to be the most annoying feature of Citi Field. I learned at Citi Field that the audio experience of a baseball game is an aspect of pro sports that too often goes overlooked. Instead of breaking down the previous play with my buddy Berry, I was forced to watch and listen to ads for “upcoming non-gameday events.” Let’s hear it for “non-gameday events!” Yes! (Note to Bud Selig: I purchase tickets and travel to a ballpark to avoid annoying television advertisements. The MLB should ban talking TV ads on all stadium jumbotrons. It induces sensory overload. Franchises that force-feed verbose video advertisements to ticketholders encroach on the purity and bliss of live baseball.)
I did not merely watch eighteen innings of baseball at Citi Field. I endured over seven hours of brutal humidity, abusive product placement, fake tans and blown out hairdos…on men, and, worst of all, pitiful play by the visiting Rockies. It was humiliating. It was tiring. It was New York City.
On the bright side, I discovered Bohemia Hall and Beer Garden in Astoria. This place quickly became one of my new favorite spots in all of New York. Bohemia Hall is New York City’s oldest beer garden. The authentic central European taphouse is located adjacent to the 7-subway line, which one takes from Manhattan to Citi Field. I stopped at Bohemia Hall for some pre-game perogis and pitchers. My Czech waiter, Viktor, introduced me to Brauchek (pronounced “bro-check,” which is awesome), a dark yet extremely drinkable Czech beer, and he treated me to the best red cabbage I’ve ever tasted. When you travel to New York City, you must check this place out.
Now back to greener, sunnier pastures…
I attended several Rockies games during the recent 10-game homestand. Coors field, what a happy place. The relaxing atmosphere and classic ballpark architecture make Coors Field one of the most pleasant professional sports stadiums in America. There is however one problem with Coors Field: the stadium employs a subpar DJ.
As I previously stated, the audio experience of an MLB game often goes overlooked. I love Coors Field, but I take issue with the fact that “We Like to Party” by Vengaboys plays after each Rockies home run. Is Denver really a Vengaboys town? I don’t think so. Furthermore, the song “We Like to Party” does not hit home (pun intended) on any personal or local level with Rockies fans. Yes, the Dutch techno beat does make ladies rise from their seats and dance after they’ve consumed three Mike’s Hard Lemonades. But the song ultimately bears no reference to the Rockies or the locality in which they play.
Several days ago I set out on a quest to find the perfect 2009 Rockies home run song. The new home run song at Coors Field needs to stand for something. It must connect the fans to their ball club every time a Rockies player completes the sweetest of strokes and goes yard. This is especially important due to the elevated (sorry, I couldn’t resist that pun either, I promise I’ll stop) number of balls that go over the wall here in Denver.
Here is a list of the best and worst songs I considered:
1. “Footloose” by Kenny Loggins
This classic 80s tune is absolutely infectious. It is impossible to keep from dancing to this song. In the same breadth, the song does not relate to Colorado, the Rockies, or baseball in any way. I suppose this fact makes it nothing more than a retro version of “We Like to Party”; the music video screams, “Our generation LOVES to party!” Additionally, the music video would have to play on the jumbotron while the song blared through the loudspeakers. The crazy 80s footwork, back flips, high-fives, and constant shots of a young, still cool Kevin Bacon would energize any Coors Field crowd even if the Rockies were losing.
2. “Colorado Rockies Team Fight Song” by Joseph Brow
I found this “gem” by youtubing “Rockies team song.” Big mistake. The existence of this song only further proves that the Rockies lack a musical identity. It’s ok, I’m working on this. Just keep reading.
3. “Rockies Anthem” by 3Oh!3
Denver appreciates the local effort, but the lyrics are far too unoriginal…and lame.
4. “Hit ‘Em Up” by 2Pac
While this song is upbeat, inherently badass, and its title doubles as a witty baseball pun that describes a home run, Pac’s lyrics are not suitable for the ballpark. I’m sure parents would love explaining to their young ones that Pac was saying “Glocks” and not “Rox” after Seth Smith hit that game-winning homer in the bottom of the ninth inning.
5. “Rocky Theme Song” from Rocky Balboa
Better. Warmer. Good. The title is appropriate and Rocky Balboa is the ultimate champion; just thinking about Rocky gets an avid sports fan’s adrenaline pumping. The beat is as funky as it is inspiring, and the song is an absolute classic, ensuring it will appeal to every generation in the ballpark. That being said, this song does not possess quite enough of an up-tempo beat to rile up the crowd following a home run. Perhaps the Rockies should instead play this song at Coors Field following each victory? The Yankees do this at Yankee Stadium with “New York, New York” by Frank Sinatra. Yes, it is time the Rockies start this tradition in Denver with the “Rocky Theme Song.” Do not write in arguing that the Rockies should start this tradition by using “Rocky Mountain High” by John Denver or anything by The Fray. There you go, you resisted that urge and you maintained your dignity.
6. “Purple Haze” by Jimi Hendrix
I was set on this psychedelic, primal rumpus of a song for ten minutes until I remembered the next song existed. The appeal of “Purple Haze” in the context of a Rockies home run needs no explanation. Wild guitar solo that sounds great when played loudly, check. Mass appeal, check. Rockies relevancy, double check. The Rockies have some of the most…errr…interesting colors in all of sports. I say we make the best of it by taking pride in our purple. The Coors Field grandstands should be a purple haze following every Rockies homer.
7. “Start Wearing Purple” by Gogol Bordello
Gogol Bordello is a strange band. Their sound is far from mainstream but remains catchy. Not to mention, the group is actually a roving band of eastern European gypsies, making them a strange band indeed. Like the Rockies, Gogol Bordello is rough around the edges. The gypsy-punk band blends accordions and violins with electric guitars, tambourines, and even a fire bucket. They are willing to try any sound combination and always go as hard as possible in an effort to deliver the best performance possible; just ask anyone who recently saw them at the Mile High Music Festival.
The Rockies, as of late, have also dug deep and done whatever it takes to deliver an epic performance. The seven-run inning, numerous clutch hits in the bottom of the ninth, tenth, and fourteenth inning, and the addition Giamba Juice demonstrate the current passion and creativity of the Rockies organization. The Rockies are alive and rocking in the same way that Gogol Bordello does night in and night out no matter whether they are playing a gig at the Fillmore in Denver or upon a dim-lit stage in a Bratislavian beer hall.
Gogol Bordello and the Rockies are linked by their respective creativity and each are fueled by gutless passion. Frontman Eugene Hutz, an experimental DJ who plays the fire bucket, does not give up until every audience member is on his or her feet, sweating, and having as much fun as he is…or until his fourth liter of wine runs dry. Tulo, Helton, and Seth Smith are cut from the same cloth as Hutz. They just express themselves in a more coordinated and sober way. Go-gol, Rockies!
Ellis Burks, Larry Walker, and Dante Bichette are gone. So is their at-bat music. If you recall, Burks, Walker, and Bichette’s plate songs were greater than their collective hitting ability. Burks entered the box to “The Message” by Grandmaster Flash, Walker to the sinister laugh of Ozzy Osbourne in “Crazy Train,” and Bichette dug in with the eye-opening intro to “Sledgehammer” playing in the background. Helton and Tulo’s questionable music choices, such as “These Are My People” by Rodney Atkins, pale in comparison to the cuts chosen by these Rockies greats. The whiny country tunes and played out pop tracks lack the thunder and head-noddability of the Blake Street Bomber classics. Alas, players choose their own at-bat songs. However, the fans need and deserve a better team song for the 2009 Rockies, especially now that we find ourselves in the midst of a riveting pennant race.
Let’s band together. Let’s get to the ballpark. And let’s start wearing purple, wearing purple NOW!