I put my Orioles cap in the dishwasher, not remembering all the red beans I ate that week. It emerged coated in bean paste, more a bowl of nachos than a baseball cap.
It was a bad omen in the days before my First Rockies Game. Undeterred, I brought my Padres cap out of retirement. I can't tell you one player on either team.
The day came, and as fate would have it, I found myself flying solo. I left Boulder several hours early and immediately found myself lost on the streets of Denver.
Everything went south from there.
Gravity took control of the eight cups of coffee I drank at home, and I found myself trespassing behind an abandoned house in the Santa Fe Arts District for want of a gas station equipped with a restroom. As I emerged, a Denver police truck barreled toward me. "Will I do well in jail?" I asked myself.
As luck would have it, the cop wasn't after me. He did, however, swerve to the right at speed and splash me with alley puddle water. Thanks.
I found a train station, parked, bought a ticket and climbed aboard. Calm washed over me. Soon I would be at Coors Field, eating a hot dog and watching baseball.
Except I left my ticket in my truck. Exit northbound train. Wait for southbound train. I impulsively said, "I quit." That was immediately overridden by a compulsive, "Never quit, never give up no matter how futile continuing is." Wile E. Coyote is to blame for this.
I grabbed the ticket and caught another train to Union Station. I was about an hour early, so I took my seat, bought a hot dog and a coke ($11!) and tried to forget about the tragedy of the afternoon.
It was a pitching duel for several innings, not my kind of baseball. I enjoy minor league ball, because 36 runs get scored. Anyone on first steals second, and the catcher usually overthrows second. There is a beautiful poetry to the incompetence of it all. (For the record: The Rockies scored five runs in the seventh. That's what I came for.)
The weather turned chilly, and it rained sporadically for about an hour. It was fun to watch the crowd run inside every time the sky spat tiny raindrops. I ate another hot dog ($7!) and fought off the shivers.
And then it happened. The foul ball took a high arc and returned to Earth. Right at me. I sat frozen in terror. It was little league all over again, as in I didn't want to be there and I felt like I was being punished. There's a reason I played right field. That's where they put the poet on the team.
A man sitting behind me leaped over his seat and took a grab. The ball struck his hand, careened off my left elbow and essentially landed on my lap. I picked it up and smiled for first time all day.