Monday, October 29, 2007

Wait 'til next year....

Well the Rockies season came to an end last night, as they were finished off by the Red Sox in the World Series. I am disappointed, but the day after it's easier to remember what the state of the team was just a month ago, and now anything seems possible. I think the best part about this run that they went on to get to the World Series was that it rekindled my love of the game. The Broncos will always be my first love, but Baseball was the sport I played growing up, and remains my favorite game to both play and watch in person. I had let my frustrations with the Rockies ownership and the way in which they ran the franchise take me to a point where I followed the team, checked the box score every day, but ultimately didn't really care about what happened to them. Not anymore - the Rox are back and I'm already looking forward to spring training! Here's my bold prediction for 2008 - Rockies over the Indians in 6 games. W00t!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Confession

I have to get this off my chest once and for all....I find the sight of mascots fighting to be just about the funniest freakin' thing in the world....to that end....

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Vacation!

Allison and I just returned from a week long cruise to the Caribbean, where in addition to spending 3 full days at sea we visited Puerto Rico, St. Thomas and St. Marteen. I've never been much for boats (or water) but this cruise was about as painless an experience as I could have hoped for. Very rarely did I feel the boat moving, it was usually only when the ship was at top speed (22 knots, or 25 mph) that I could detect a slight rocking back and forth. So no seasickness for me, although I did nearly blow it during a bus ride on St. Marteen that was more than a little bumpy, but other than that I had no problems....

Sunday, October 14th

We had an uneventful trip to Port Canaveral, FL where the ships are launched from. It took about 5 hours to get there, and the highlight for me was a trip to 7 Eleven where I was able to procure my idea of heaven on Earth - a Mt. Dew Slurpee. The drive was easy - we really didn't even need the GPS. Straight shot down I-95, then one exit to Port Canaveral then another exit to the cruise terminal. We unloaded our bags (where we issued the first of many, many tips to Royal Caribbean personal), parked and got in our first line of the day - the line to enter the cruise terminal. 20 minutes of that lead into a fairly long line at the security checkpoint, then that lead into a 45 minute line to check in. During all this waiting in line, I experienced what would be a recurring theme during this trip - people pointing at me and yelling "GO ROCKIES!!!!". Whether it was wearing a Rockies jersey or just the Rockies cap, people seemed fascinated by the sight of an actual living, breathing Rockies fan. Anyway, we finally boarded the Mariner of the Seas and made our way to the cabin. The room was small to be sure, but it wasn't as small as people had made it out to be. Either that or I just didn't mind the cramped quarters. Now, the bathroom on the other hand....yikes. TINY doesn't really describe it....the only upside is that if you forget the soap or shampoo you can always just reach out of the shower and the counter is right there!

We explored the ship for a little while, finding the pools, basketball court, miniature golf course, rock climbing wall, casino, ice skating rink and about a million other things to do and see. We found our assigned dining room and met our table-mates for the rest of the cruise, Sheryl and Mark. Now, if you know me you know I'm not much of a people person (no, really!) and don't generally gravitate towards strangers, but thankfully they were really cool and we all got along great for the whole trip. Also at dinner we met our waiter Francis, who could very well been the highlight of the trip. He was from India (the crew came from 47 different countries) and while his English wasn't the greatest, he had a quirky sense of humor (one night he folded a napkin into the shape of a rodent and made me pet his "naughty mouse"....so take that for what you will) and made every dinner enjoyable. After dinner I found the sports bar to see if I could watch the Rockies game, and thankfully they had it on. There were a few people from Colorado there rooting for the Rockies, but there was also some loud jackass Diamondbacks fan that was just in a pissy mood cuz his team was getting beat. When Yorvit hit the 3 run homer he was pretty pissed, but my new friends and I were going crazy. After the game was over we returned to the cabin to get some much needed sleep.

Monday, October 15th

The day began with news from the Captain that the weather in Coco Cay wasn't very good, so we were skipping that and going instead to San Juan, Puerto Rico. This meant a full day at sea, and we'd arrive in San Juan at 2PM Tuesday. We found plenty to do on board Monday, including turning $5 at the casino into $25 at the slots...and then promptly losing said $25. Oops. We also saw a show with some comedian that I'd never heard of but apparently had been on the Tonight Show or something. He got a laugh when he was describing the amazing amount of suction that comes from the onboard toilets...."the first time I sat down to use the toilet I was fully dressed and chewing gum - after I flushed I was naked and the gum was gone....". The day ended watching the Rockies win Game 4 and become National League champs. I was glad they wrapped it up when they did so that I didn't have to worry about finding time to watch them more during the cruise.

Tuesday, October 16th


In the morning I decided to tackle the rock wall. Now, I don't have a lot of what the cool kids call "upper body strength", so I was a little hesitant to do it, but ultimately decided to go for it. I did pause however when I had to fill out a waiver (the 'if you fall and kill yourself it's not our fault' waiver) and the guy told me to put down the date.....October 16th - which just happens to be the day my Father died. I looked at the date I'd just written down, looked up at the wall, looked at Allison who also knew the significance of the day.....and decided to take my chances. What's the worst that could happen right?! I got all strapped in and started my climb....I had made it about halfway when I became aware that my heart was pounding and arms/legs were burning. It was a fairly unpleasant feeling, but I soldiered on....after a few tense moments, I made my way to the top and rang the bell. If I hadn't been so completely out of breath I would have taken a moment to appreciate my accomplishment, but I was more interested in getting down right about then, so I let go of the wall and the dude on the ground reeled me back down. After I caught my breath, I decided that I was pretty darn proud of myself, and that perhaps not all the athleticism has left my body after all.

In the afternoon we got off the boat and headed into San Juan...we walked to the old fort San Cristobal which was pretty cool, then walked in the old downtown area. There were shops all over the place (mostly jewelry....which must be pretty big in this part of the world because that's all there was to buy in St. Thomas and St. Marteen too), and Allison found a great deal on some manner of expensive purse. She has decided to believe that it is not a knock-off. Overall I liked San Juan....it wasn't America, and yet it kind of was. At least I found a Mt. Dew in a convenience store, which I saved for dinner on the last night.

Wednesday, October 17th

When we woke up we were already docked in St. Thomas. We had purchased a shore excursion, the "Ultimate Island Experience" ahead of time, so we got off the boat and got on a taxi where we were taken to a couple of locations where you could see some spectacular views, as well as stimulate the local economy (this picture of Allison and Monica Lewinski cost me $5....). Finally we made our way to the beach....now, as you may know, I don't like the beach. I can't stand salt water, I hate sand (it gets everywhere) and my people (computer nerds) generally don't react well to direct sunlight. But, I sucked it up, lathered myself with sunscreen and dove in. The water was nice but I got bored pretty fast, so I went back to the beach, found a tree and tried to take a nap. After our time was up at the beach we went to Blackbeards Castle and ate a hot dog. We caught a taxi back to the ship, and got back on board. I didn't really like St. Thomas all that much....too much panhandling and people pressuring me to buy something. Plus I had sand in my shoes, which was also irritating. Bah. That night we caught a show on board, as they were playing the Newlywed Game. They had three couples on stage that they were asking questions of - a couple that had been married for a week, a couple that had been married for 16 years, and a couple that had been married for 58 years. Naturally, the couple that had been together 58 years won, though it was more than a little uncomfortable watching this nice elderly couple try to answer the question of where the strangest place they ever had sex was (for the record, the back-seat of a '48 Pontiac - nice!).

Thursday, October 18th

We arrived in St. Marteen overnight, and we had another shore excursion lined up. I stepped off the boat and onto foreign soil for the first time....the Island is actually split into two countries, one belonging to France and the other to the Netherlands. We got on a bus and headed for the beach (starting in the Netherlands side and ending on the French side....after never having been out of the United States, I hit two different countries in the same morning!), and along the way our tour guide (who was from London, oddly enough) gave us some interesting facts about how the Island came to be split in two. This time when we arrived at the beach I decided not to make myself all gross with sun screen and sand, so I just kept my t-shirt, shorts and shoes on the whole time. After Allison got out of the water, we decided to walk down the shore a little...and came upon a nude beach. Now, I don't mind standing out in a crowd, but I have never felt like I was sticking out like a sore thumb just by being clothed! Anyway, walking down that beach was quite an experience.....it wasn't the fact that people were naked so much, but more that they were a) seriously overweight (I mean, holy crap people...no one wants to see that.....I saw a grand total of ONE really attractive woman on that beach - I had to fight the urge to go up to her and shake her hand for taking care of her body) and b) a color that I'd never seen any human being be before. All of them were this dark bronze color, all wrinkled and just overall very, very strange looking. I suppose it's a lifestyle or something, but I don't understand why people want to do that to themselves - is the risk of skin cancer really worth looking like some kind of alien race? I guess so....ick.

Friday, October 19th

The first of two full days at sea. Not a whole lot left to do on board, other than to visit a few places on the ship we hadn't been to before and eat. We saw an Ice Show, went to the pool, and I bought Allison her Xmas present (some neckless....I don't know what she needs another neckless for, but then again I guess she doesn't understand why I need more than one computer so.....).

Saturday, October 20th

Our last day of the cruise....the highlight of the day for me was taking home a share of first place in the Sci-Fi trivia tournament. There were 15 Star Trek questions and 15 Star Wars questions - I got 28 out of 30 correct. I failed to remember the name of the song Picard and Data were singing in Insurrection (Gilbert & Sullivan's H.M.S. Pinafore) and the race the guards at Jabba's Palace belonged to (Guramarian - I knew it started with a G, but couldn't come up with it in time). I was called up to the front along with the other guy who got 28 questions correct, and I assumed we were going to have a tie-breaking question asked of us, but instead the host played the music and we (along with the 2nd and 3rd place people) each received our medals - a nice touch :) the rest of the day was spent packing and getting ready to leave - we had our final dinner with our new friends and Francis, then called it a night.

Sunday, October 21st

We left the boat around 8AM, and had a fairly painless trip through Customs (baggage claim was a different story, as they put our bags on a different conveyer than the one they told us to check) then made our way to the Kennedy Space Center for the final leg of our vacation. It turned out we actually were just a little early, as the Space Shuttle is on the pad and ready to be launched on Tuesday. To bad we have to go back to work otherwise we might have stayed to watch it. We couldn't get very close to it, but we could see it from the observation gantry, and did drive right past the crawler that moves the Shuttle from the Vehicle Assembly Building to the launch pad - the 1 mile trip that takes 8 hours. Then we were bused to the Apollo/Saturn V Center where you get to see an actual Saturn 5 rocket. From there we went to the International Space Station Center, and saw the actual components of the station that are still in production to be delivered on future Shuttle missions - very cool. We had to cut the trip a little short, as we needed to get on the road to make it home to see the Broncos beat the Steelers :)

We are both pretty tired, and Allison reports that she still thinks she's rocking back and forth slightly while standing up, but other than that we are ship-shape. Ha. While I didn't like being out of touch from work and the outside world in general, I came to realize that I did desperately need a vacation, as other than holiday's I hadn't had a day off in over 13 months. Next vacation will most likely be next spring and fall, as Allison wants to go home to Boise and I want to go to Denver next fall to see the Nugs and Avs play in person.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Ouch

"They cannot stop the run, they cannot stop the pass, they cannot play special teams, they cannot get off their blocks, and they cannot score in the red zone. Other than that, things are great!"

- Mark Schlereth, former Bronco and current ESPN Analyst guy on the 2007 Broncos one day after their worst loss at home in 41 years. All I can say is that it's a good thing the Rox are taking the city of Denver's collective attention away from the fact that our football team, apparently, sucks.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

ROX WIN! ON TO NLCS!

Colorado sweeps Philadelphia, will face Arizona

By Troy E. Renck
The Denver Post

Destiny is not halfway. Either you believe or you don't.

The Rockies' faith began three weeks ago and hasn't wavered. A September push has turned the Rockies' into Legends of the Fall, Colorado trumping the Philadelphia Phillies 2-1 Saturday night to advance to the National League Championship Series. They will face the Arizona Diamondbacks in Phoenix beginning next Thursday. As the Rockies sprayed Domaine St. Michelle champagne and gulped Coors Light in the clubhouse, it felt more like a beginning than an end. It was a scene - Todd Helton drenched in celebration - that was 15 years in the making, made possible by 17 wins in their last 18 games.

"To be within one strike of being eliminated (with a San Diego win eight days ago), you start to think maybe it's our time," third baseman Garrett Atkins said. "It's things you just don't see. After a few more of those things keep happening you start thinking maybe we are destined for this." For a team that has toiled in obscurity - they have been on National TV more the past week than over the past two years - the final act naturally blended anonymity. After consecutive eighth-inning singles by Garrett Atkins and Brad Hawpe, seldom-used Jeff Baker wandered into the spotlight. He had only three pinch-hit RBIs in 46 bats. He survived a frightening beanball to the face, to scratch his way back onto the playoff roster. And With the Phillies sticking with left-hander J.C. Romero rather than going to closer Brett Myers, Baker delivered. On a 1-0 count, he lashed a 90-mph fastball into right field for the decisive run. "What do you think of that?" said Baker, known as the Bake Show to teammates.

Three outs, fireworks and a relatively tame on-field celebration later - hey it was their second in six days -- the Rockies had won their first playoff series ever. Phillies' shortstop Jimmy Rollins insisted all season that Philadelphia was the team to beat. Now the Rockies are the dream to beat. "Baseball is all about confidence and our confidence continues to grow with each win," outfielder Brad Hawpe said. Saturday was not just another night on the calendar. It was circled in purple. The last time the Rockies hosted a playoff game Bill Clinton was president and John Elway was pining for a Super Bowl ring. Elway, as he has done for the Avalanche and Nuggets, provided the pregame boost on the Jumbotron, urging a win in what has become known has ROctober. "It was crazy. All those fans. I love them," pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez said. Pleasantly bizarre was perhaps a more apt description. Game-time temperature was allegedly 73 degrees. It dropped to 55 within 20 minutes, a wicked wind swirling in Coors Field that turned flyballs into floating obits for four innings.

Not long after the sellout crowd zipped its coats, the lights went out at 7:56 p.m. A 14-minute delay followed because of a computer malfunction, not a late electrical bill. Jimenez made the Phillies, the National Leagues highest scoring team, look as if they were swinging in the dark. He permitted just one hit through five innings, relying largely on his sinking fastball and big curve. Jimenez finally gave way in the seventh, a hanging 82-mph slider to Shane Victorino the outfielder deposited into the right-field seats the only blemish on this record. Problem was, he had no margin for error. Jamie Moyer played the ice to Jimenez's fire. He never topped 83 mph, stepping on and off the gas with his parachute changeup. Manager Clint Hurdle watched an hour of film on Moyer before the game, stressing the importance of patience with his hitters. The Rockies' first run came from their two best offensive players in this series - Yorvit Torrealba and Matsui. Torrealba singled in the fifth and scored on Matsui's triple that left fielder Pat Burrell took a poor angle on as it reached the fence. "It's always somebody new," catcher Yorvit Torrealba said. It was proven as the Rockies bathed in champagne, smiling, laughing, and more than anything, wondering who's next. "I really thought we'd win," owner Dick Monfort said. "What about these guys? They are unbelievable. I am so happy for them."

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

AMAZING!!!!

Rockies tag Hoffman for 3 in 13th to win one game playoff and lock up wild card

DENVER (AP) -- Matt Holliday raced home on Jamey Carroll's shallow fly ball, capping a stunning, three-run rally in the 13th inning against Trevor Hoffman and leading the Colorado Rockies over the San Diego Padres 9-8 Monday night for the NL wild card.

After Scott Hairston's two-run homer put the Padres ahead in the top of the 13th, Colorado came back against baseball's career saves leader. The Rockies, who won for the 14th time in 15 games, took the longest one-game tiebreaker in major league history. They advanced to play Philadelphia in the first round starting Wednesday.

Kaz Matsui and Troy Tulowitzki, who had four hits, lined back-to-back doubles off Hoffman, making it 8-7, and Holliday tripled off the wall in right to tie it. After Todd Helton was intentionally walked, Carroll lined out to right fielder Brian Giles. Giles' throw home bounced in front of catcher Michael Barrett, who couldn't hold on as Holliday swiped the plate, then lay face-down after cutting his chin with his headfirst slide. Umpire Tim McClelland made a delayed safe call, and replays were inconclusive on whether Holliday touched the plate with his left hand or was blocked by Barrett's left foot. "I don't know. He hit me pretty good," Holliday said. "I got stepped on and banged my chin. I'm all right."

Carroll entered the game as a pinch-runner in the seventh inning and stayed in to play third base. He got one hit before finding himself in position to hit the sacrifice fly that won it. "I was just trying to get a ball up in the zone," Carroll said. "Had a guy at third. Matty did a great job. Matty ran his butt off. I am so happy that we get this opportunity to go on." Hoffman (4-5), who has 524 career saves, blew his seventh chance in 49 tries. On Saturday, he was one strike away from clinching a playoff spot when Tony Gwynn Jr. hit a tying triple for Milwaukee, which went on to win 4-3 in 11 innings. The Rockies won the longest game at Coors Field this season behind Holliday, the MVP candidate who won the NL batting title at .340. He also drove in two runs to take the league RBI crown with 137, one more than Philadelphia's Ryan Howard.

Ramon Ortiz (1-0) got the win. He was the Rockies' 10th pitcher, taking over after Jorge Julio gave up Hairston's homer. The Rockies are headed to the playoffs for the first time since 1995, when they lost to Atlanta in the first round. After stranding runners at second in the 10th, 11th and 12th off Matt Herges, the Padres broke through against Julio. Brian Giles drew a leadoff walk and Hairston homered into the bleachers in left-center.

The Rockies didn't flinch.

It was sweet atonement for Holliday, who misplayed Giles' flyball into an RBI double off Brian Fuentes with the Rockies ahead by 6-5 in the eighth that scored Geoff Blum from second base with the tying run. The Rockies and Padres were tied at 6 in the 163rd game of the season for each team, the first play-in game since the New York Mets beat Cincinnati 5-0 for the 1999 NL wild card. In the bottom of the eighth, Holliday stranded the go-ahead run at second when he whiffed against Health Bell, who relieved ineffective Padres ace Jake Peavy. Manny Corpas went 1-2-3 in the top of the ninth, and Bell sent the game into extra innings by retiring the side in the bottom half, stranding the potential winning run at first base.

The big hit for Colorado earlier came from September callup Seth Smith, who tripled in the sixth and scored on Matsui's shallow sacrifice fly to give Colorado a 6-5 lead. Colorado took an early 3-0 lead only to watch Adrian Gonzalez erase it with his first career grand slam in the third inning, which Peavy ignited a five-run rally with a single. The Rockies came back to tie on Helton's 17th homer in the bottom half and Holliday's RBI single in the fifth off Peavy, who looked little like the Cy Young Award candidate he's been this season. Peavy allowed six runs and 10 hits in 6 1-3 innings. He failed in his bid for his 20th win -- Boston's Josh Beckett was the only pitcher this year to achieve the feat. Rockies starter Josh Fogg allowed five runs and eight hits in four-plus innings.

It was a fitting end to a season full of late comebacks and collapses.