Baseball: Rocktober enthusiasm had already cooled by Game 4
It was a long shot, fans said, as they put Rocktoberfest to rest.Its a miracle they got this far, said Kathy Whitman at Grand Lakes Lariat Saloon, prior to Game Four of World Series O7. Explaining away the Rockies three consecutive losses that carved the way to a disappointing end in the spotlight was par for fans settling into bar stools Sunday. Even with shreds of hope, many had the feeling they were about to witness the seasons final hurrah.We dont even have any fat ladies here, you know, for when the fat lady sings, one fan said, looking around the barroom, even before the first pitch was thrown.Gauging from the attendance in this and other Grand Lake bars, Rocktober enthusiasm had already cooled. Support waned, unlike last Wednesday, when local bars were packed. They even canceled Trivia, Wednesday said Lariat patron Anita Archer of Grand Lake. Some blamed it on Trail Ridge Road being closed, some on the travel day for Denverites, some on the losses. As for those, fans blamed it on a seven-day cool off before the series started, some on cold feet at legendary Fenway Park, others on a Red Sox payroll three times that of the Rockies. But one point all seemed to agree upon: The Rockies have the rookie factor.And for this, Colorado fans are forgiving.Our expectations were so high because of what theyve done. Its such a letdown, but when you look at the big picture, you think, Oh my God, its a place most teams never get to, Whitman said. We should be proud.The Rockies are a young team, said Lariat patron John Carl of Grand Lake. Theyre playing a team thats been around a long time.(Red Sox) are familiar with being under the gun. Were not. Up at Grand Lakes Gateway Inn during the first few innings endearingly referred to as The Old Farts Bar by patron Tim Thorpe fans tried to muster up some enthusiasm.Hey, thats a start, said proprietor Tom Jenkins in the second inning when the Rockies Todd Helton advanced to second base the teams first real glimmer of hope. Whitman, who herself had advanced from the Lariat to the Gateway, signed the line pool and focused on the game.Good try, she yelled to the boys. Well, you have to give them some hope. But after a few more discouraging plays, she changed her tune. Hey, can we change the rules? Can we get a shot every time they dont score? she asked Jenkins. Ted Fasso of Grand Lake and Denver reminisced about the time he was on the front page of the Rocky Mountain News, when Larry Walker hit a home run in 2002. We were sitting right behind him, he said. Walker hit it down the right field line and we were standing behind him in the eighth row. I was just glad I didnt tell work I was sick that day.Fasso had season tickets during the Rockies first five seasons. But after we watched them lose 30 to 23, we didnt go anymore, he said. He now admits it took a Rockies winning streak to rekindle his interest in them.Back at the Lariat, fans tolerated game lulls by eating 75 cent hot dogs and taking part in group rally shots, which at times, seemed to work.In the bottom of the seventh inning, Brad Haupe hit a homer. Yeah. Somebody Scored! Craig Capps of Grand Lake shouted as the handful of Rockies fans rose from their stools.But the positive wave was short-lived. Like an omen, one side of a Rockies pennant that hung behind the bar during games 1-3 let go, and the souvenir dangled. Its hangin by a thread, just like the team, said Steve Cormey after Bostons Bobby Kielty hit a homer into the left field seats for a 4-1 lead. Although the Lariat crowd was thin, they knew their baseball. Cormey is a Denver native whose been a Colorado baseball fan all the way back to the The Bears farm team. The cap he wore sported a flashing Rockies logo. He and Capps shared stories of going to respective Triple A games when they were kids. Capps, originally from Iowa, used to watch the Kansas City Athletics in the early 70s (before they were the Oakland Athletics) and saw the likes of Vida Blue and Catfish Hunter. Behind the bar, Lariat manager Nine-toed Bob Nicholls, a native Denverite, is also a Colorado sports fanatic, a Broncos season-ticket holder.As the Rockies trailed by three, Carl lost all hope. Que Sera, Sera, he said under his breath. Go, Avalanche.But hope unexpectedly swelled in the bottom of the eighth inning when Garrett Atkins belted a home run, driving first baseman Todd Helton home.A ninth inning nail-biter followed.But Denvers Jamey Carrols oh-so-close home run, followed by Seth Smiths final strike sealed the Red Soxs four-game sweep. Final score: 4-3, Bostons seventh World Series title in franchise history.Its too bad (the Rockies) couldnt have won at least one game at home, Cormey said, At least for the fans.At any rate, he reasoned, hed still be able to get some more use out of his Rockies jersey.I figure I can still wear this on Halloween, with a big pitch fork through it, he said.Surprisingly, the games end wasnt a totally solemn moment in the Lariat bar. Sometime during the ninth, three Boston Red Sox fans had wandered in. They high-fived each other as the television showed Sox players charging the field in celebration.It all comes down to this: The best team won, said a triumphant Shawn OClair of Manchester, N.H., who, with his wife Renee, was visiting friend Sarah Smith of Grand Lake also a Boston fan.Nick Kenney of Grand Lake, who just minutes earlier had been sulking, staring blankly at the television, piped in, Tonya, dont you dare write that down!
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