Lots of thoughts on this one, which I attended in person. First of all, let's hurry up and get Mike DeJean and Scott Dohmann back healthy. Tom Martin and Sunny Kim are not good for much besides turning blowouts into cheap save opportunities for Brian Fuentes. Fuentes, Ray King, and Jose Mesa have looked very impressive so far this season. It would be a shame to ruin their effectiveness through overwork.
I missed the pregame festivities because I was parking, but it seemed to me that during the ballgame at least the Rockies did too little to recognize Jackie Robinson Day. There were two trivia questions on the scoreboard about Robinson during one half-inning and that was it. It's true (and unfortunate) that major league baseball has seen diminished involvement by African-Americans in the past several years, but Robinson's importance transcends race. Nobody can give any baseball fan static about being obsessed about a trivial sport because of Robinson. Baseball and this country's long struggle to improve itself are inextricably linked now and forever because of what Jackie Robinson and Branch Rickey accomplished. I don't have a problem with the little kids sitting in front of me in the rightfield upper deck not knowing that you can tag up after a fly ball. I have a big problem with them not knowing who Jackie Robinson is. After the Preston Wilson trade, the Rockies went a considerable amount of time last year with no black American players, but that's not the case anymore. I would have liked to see King and Choo Freeman up on the big board sharing their thoughts on Jackie.
Speaking of little kids, there was an adorable family of Phillies fans sitting in my section. The kids, some of whom were quite little, sat and paid rapturous attention to the game for the full nine innings, even staying to cheer their team on after the Rockies blew it wide open in the seventh. That's good parenting. I'm an extreme loner -- I work from home, go to games, concerts, and movies by myself, and often go days at a time without physically speaking to other human beings -- but seeing parents and their children at ballgames always makes me reconsider my misanthropic stance. I may have to bite the bullet and get married one of these days, just so I can sit little Voros or Alyson down upon my knee and explain to them the intricacies of the double switch.
Charlie Manuel faced a double bind in the seventh inning tonight. What was he to do, leave a clearly gassed Jon Lieber out there or make the call to the Phillies' little bullpen of horrors? There was no right choice. In the end, he stuck with Lieber, who promptly gave up the lead. Then he called to the bullpen, who really got down to business making sure Philadelphia was well and truly out of the game. Jason Jennings was really quite effective aside from the titanic home runs he allowed to Bobby Abreu and Pat Burrell. Abreu troubled the Rockies all night, but when the game was really on the line tied in the top of the seventh, Ray King came on and induced the Phillies star into a rally-killing double play groundout. Maybe Philadelphia fans are right about Abreu. Didn't I once say they could have Matt Holliday for him any day of the week? Maybe I spoke too soon. Holliday was huge in this one, coming a single short of the cycle and knocking in five, including a decisive triple off of Geoff Geary in the big Rockies seventh. Clint Barmes was 3 for 5. Jason Smith and Choo Freeman had big pinch hits in the five-run inning. And Danny Ardoin surprised even himself by clubbing a triple leading to an insurance run in the eighth. Pretty sweet stuff from both sides of the ball for the Rockies.
And hey, the defense is looking pretty good too. Luis Gonzalez, who has started cold at the plate but did have a single, made three nice plays at second. Holliday laid out for a fine catch in left. Todd Helton continues to be so smooth at first that it's a surprise when he doesn't make a play, as happened when Jimmy Rollins lined a rocket off of his glove for a single. Clint Barmes made a poor error on a routine play at short in the ninth, but his earlier work with the bat more than made up for it.
I don't know if this is physically possible anywhere other than Coors Field, but it seemed like there were more people in line for walk-up ticket sales out in front during the first inning than actually in the seats for the rest of the game. The lines were very long and very slow. If the Rockies staff is going to be this unprepared for people actually wanting to attend their games, maybe this new knack for winning isn't a wholly positive thing. Oh yeah, and I got my magnetic schedule. Very handsome, with a little "R" that pops out on the top. Eye-caching. On the fridge it goes.