Sunday, August 26, 2007

Day 62: Coors Field

All photos of Denver and Coors Field available on Flickr.

It was a gorgeous day in Denver today, a great day to walk around and explore the city. We started the morning as we often do - blogging at a local coffee shop. After that, we walked down towards the state capitol building. On the way there, we passed two very cool areas. One was the 16th Street Mall, which I remember from my last visit to Denver about 10 years ago. It is a pedestrian/bus-only street with lots of shops, banks, and restaurants. Also on the way towards the capitol, we passed the Denver Convention Center. Although I am generally not a big fan of convention centers, as they tend to be eye-sores that wastes 10 blocks of prime downtown real estate, this one was actually pretty cool and featured a 4-story tall blue grizzly bear by one of the exterior curtain walls.

The Colorado state capitol is on axis with other federal buildings and the US Mint, which we tried to tour but was full. We at least got to visit the US Mint gift shop, which was actually just an air-conditioned trailer. It was eerie to me how much it resembled the National Mall in Washington; there was even an obelisk there, albeit a smaller scale than the Washington Monument. We spent about a half-hour walking around the capitol and looking around people's offices and various meeting chambers. The thing that makes this building stand out is the ridiculous amount of gold present everywhere - the dome, the handrails, even the bubblers (that's "drinking fountains" to those of you not from Wisconsin or Massachusetts).

After leaving the capitol, we walked through LoDo (Lower Downtown), which is the area where Coors Field, the Pepsi Center, and Union Station all reside. It was a former warehouse district that has boomed since the hockey and baseball franchises came into Denver. A large portion of the buildings are historic and the district has a lot of character for an area that is a little over a century old. We ended our day of touring at the Wynkoop Brewing Company, where we sampled all 12 of the beers they featured on tap. We got a great spot across the street from the stadium, but had to compete with scalpers and peanut girls, and we only made about $20.

I was at Coors Field about 10 years ago, but I didn't really remember much of the park, as I was significantly less interested in baseball when I was 15. So, like Erik, it was kind of like I was going there for the first time. The things I did remember were the bullpens and the row of purple seats in the upper deck that are exactly one mile above sea level. The bullpens are cool because they are situated around a little wooded area that the opposing team actually has to meander through to get onto the field. The stadium is in its 13th season already and was the first stadium done in the retro-style after Camden Yards. It is a little confusing getting to the upper deck, but otherwise I really enjoyed the park. It had very nice concourses, particularly behind the bleachers. The left field side is not inundated with seating, so there is a nice view to the Platte River basin when the sun is out. Tonight was 80's Night at the park and made the game even more enjoyable, as all the players featured 80's haircuts and clothes on the jumbotron, and there was 80's trivia throughout the game, most of which I got correct. It was the 2nd Rockies victory we have seen on the trip and they have to be my pick to win the NL West based on what we've seen these past two months. The second game of the tour we saw the Rockies come back from 8 runs down to tie the game in the 9th, only to eventually lose to the Cubs in the 10th. This game featured a measely 5-run comeback, but unlike the disappointing loss in Chicago, the Rockies won this game 6-5 on a walk-off reached-on-error by Kazuo Matsui in the 9th. Jeff Francis went 6.1 and threw 120 pitches in the game, and closer Brian Fuentes ended up getting the win, as he pitched the top half of the 9th. We saw three homeruns at hitter-friendly Coors Field, by Matt Holliday, Ryan Zimmerman, and Wily Mo Pena. You could really tell by these homeruns and the triples that were hit in the gaps during the game how much the ball carries here.

Tomorrow we head back into the central time zone, as we drive through scenic Nebraska to an independent league in Lincoln.

park stats and rankings:
aesthetics - 8
views from park - 6 (good during the day)
view to field - 6
surrounding area - 10 (LoDo)
food variety - 6
nachos - 9
beer - 3 (we found Miller Lite at one stand, which salvaged this category)
vendor price - 5
ticket price - 9 ($4 bleachers)
atmosphere - 5 (80s Night)
walk to park - 9
parking price/proximity - 10 (3 blocks away for free)
concourses - 9
team shop - 5

best food - Denver Dog
most unique stadium feature - forest in center field
best jumbotron feature - 80s Night animations
best between-inning feature - Hog race

field dimensions - 347/415/350
starters - Shawn Hill (WSH) v. Jeff Francis (COL)
opponent - Washington Nationals
time of game - 2:45
attendance - 25230
score - 6-5 W
Brewers score that day - 11-6 L

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