Thursday, July 7, 2016

Day 8: Colorado Springs Sky Sox. Colorado Springs, CO. The Gardens and Wrath of the Gods

So after a late, high scoring affair at Coors field two nights ago and only a home run contest the day before, we were itching to see an entire game.  And we did, by both hell and high water, see a game from start to finish in Colorado.  The Colorado gods tried to keep it from us, gave us every reason not to finish this one, but dammit, we stayed.  And got a free hat.

Before the game, though, we did some exploring south of Denver.  After an unremarkable lunch at Wendy’s, we sped to some place called Mantinou to see if we could climb Pikes Peak.  There is a three-hour round-trip railway line to the top which looks amazing, but was understandably full.  We waited on standby, but with only 3 minutes left on the parking meter, and the fact that we had no water with us, it wasn’t the end of the world when they didn’t call us.  And the prospect of the 40 degree summit while clad in t-shirts and shorts was daunting.  Plus, we had an excellent backup plan.
The Garden of the Gods has large red rocks.  And very limited parking.  Fortunately, you can drive around the large red rocks as many times as you’d like as you revisit every lot looking for a spot.  
Yep, we've been here.  And you haven't.  Well, maybe you have.  You might be Scott or somebody.  Who are we to judge?

Eventually we found a spot in the 8th place we looked and took a loopy walk (with plenty of water and under cloud cover, this time) around the rocks, seeing formations with names like “Kissing Camels” and “Sleeping Giant.”  If I were a god, I could certainly do worse than this for a garden.
I call it "Neckless Behemoth"

And you’ll thrill to knowledge of yet more mini-golf.  This time, it was inside, with air conditioning.  Nice and cool.  And glow-in-the-dark!  If you’re depth-perceptionally deficient, this is not for you.  The course did come with nifty capsules to put your balls in and make them glow, too.  Both courses shared an 18th hole, however, and it was Plinko style with an unavoidable hole at the bottom.  So both courses were decided after 17 and Ben’s ball got stuck on the Plinko bars and didn’t even go into the hole.

When we got to the park in Colorado Springs, it was already starting to drizzle.  We made a quick circuit for food and watched the first couple of innings from our seats behind home plate before the skies opened and left us huddled under the concourse roof with everybody else.  And it was COLD!  Who would have thought that a mile in the air with rain coming down would not be good weather for shorts?  Anyway, after an hour and a half of delay, the game resumed and we stuck it out, getting back to our beds in Denver at 1 in the morning.

Does this look like quitting weather to you?

But you’re here about the free hat, aren’t you?  All in good time.  Here come some


1.       Not sure if it was specifically a military appreciation day, but it was full of soldiers and veterans.  The “Play Ball” was said by a two-year old in army fatigues.  The national anthem, God Bless America, and Take Me Out to the Ballgame were all sung by an officer of some sort.

2.       The net is one of the best we’ve seen!  It doesn’t extend even to the dugouts and it is short in a vertical sense, too.  Really any spot is in danger of a foul ball approaching quickly.  It was so short that we saw a foul bunt go into the second level behind home plate.
Not pictured:  The complete lack of net anywhere else in the park.

3.       The stadium is called Security Service Field and we saw a gaggle of private security personnel outside the park.  We assumed they were related and the fact that the field and the team both had the initials SS made us nervous, but it’s just the name of a credit union.  The main building has retired numbers along the face, and they looked really old.  Further research shows that some of them came from the Sky Sox’s first iteration as a team in the 1950s.

4.       We always try to do a full lap of each park, but this is one of those that has nothing at all in the outfield, no seats, no berm, no walkway.  And since the park faces east, there wasn’t even that breathtaking a view of any mountains.

5.       Except these!  Whenever the Sky Sox scored a run, the mountains over the scoreboard would light up all flashy-like.

If only they would line the real Rockies with lights.

6.       Other outfield highlights include a hot tub!  There was a birthday or bachelor party or something up there tonight, and it continued to be occupied even after the rain delay.  I think this is the first hot tub since St. Paul.  We would have given it a try, but it costs $300.  Our purchases, and indeed our entire hobby, are financially suspect, but that’s a little too rich for our blood.

7.       Turns out the Sky Sox are a Brewers affiliate, and not Rockies as we had thought previously.  They were Rockies affiliated until recently, so we can be forgiven, which makes the several Brewers fans we saw that much more impressive.  The crowd in general was very enthusiastic before the rain delay, getting absurdly loud over free pizza handed out by the mascot.

8.       The mascot was a Fox.  Named Socks.

9.       We did get some free stuff, but we had to work for it.  Everyone got a free Rally “Towel” (more like a washcloth) for signing up for something or other on a touchscreen hub in the middle of the concourse.  Well, Gertrude Stein of Towncity, Utah may not have won the air conditioner back in Frisco, but she sure as hell put her name down for whatever this was to get her washcloth.

10.   The washcloths were actually good for something, though.  Remember the rain delay?  Well, when chairs sit in the rain for over an hour, they get wet and make your butt sad when it sits on them.  If you use the washcloths on the chairs first, though, the chairs aren’t as wet and your butt is less sad.

11.   Even better were the ushers with actual absorbent towels.  They were out there as soon as the rain slowed down and would dry off your chair to order whenever you wanted to return to your seat.  Great service.

12.   When the game restarted, it was in the middle of an at-bat, but with a new pitcher.  But he had a no hitter going?  What sort of heartless manager takes his starter out when he has a no hitter?  And don’t give me that nanny-state crap about “preserving his arm” or “reduced effectiveness after extended rest.”  Back in my day, men were men until they weren’t men anymore!

13.   The count was 2-0 when play resumed, so we got to see the all-too-rare Walk on Two Straight Pitches™

14.   When the new pitcher inevitably got three outs, we were treated to prizes!  Well, some sections were, as apparently that’s a thing whenever the home team goes three scoreless innings.

15.   A minor celebrity close to our heart was Sky Sox leadoff hitter Kyle Wren.  We could easily make a Star Wars joke now, but we prefer recognize him as son of erstwhile Braves General Manager Frank Wren, from back before we couldn’t stomach the Braves.  But let’s be honest, we all know how Frank is going to die now.  Thanks for the spoilers, Disney.

16.   Almost as if to apologize for the rain delay, the post-delay game sped right along.  It was a concise and well-played affair through the top of the 7th, with a score of 2-1.  The Sky Sox decided to get some insurance in the bottom, which I can forgive.  But then they did it again in the 8th.  And then in the 9th, the visiting New Orleans Zephyrs, down 7-1, dared to drag the game out with another couple of runs before finally losing.  It was close to midnight by this point and we were cold and tired.  We’d like to thank the teams of this contest for another opportunity to test our inner scrappiness.

17.   Ok, so here’s how I got the hat.  In the top of the 7th, with maybe 200 people left in the park, a promotion lady came down and asked the folks in front of us if they would like to participate in some baseball trivia on the field for prizes in the 8th inning.  They declined, but Ben is the SJ Baseball Trivia Champion 5 years running and quickly got himself noticed and selected. 

18.   The game worked like this:  If I answered 5 questions right in 30 seconds, then I won a hat.  The first two questions had to do with the sponsor and the answers were “Prism” and “Yes”.  What’s that, you say?  OF COURSE the MC didn’t prompt me to say those answers!  I totally knew that esoteric knowledge about the Coloramumblmumble Company!

19.   The other questions were basebally, and I handily answered which pitcher is the only to win 500 games, which hitter has the most homeruns in history, and how many games are in a full-length world series.  Some more obscure questions also appeared, such as which anniversary the Sky Sox were celebrating this year.

20.   The first time I didn’t know an answer, I simply named the greatest prime minister in English history, Pitt the Elder.  Zach did not disappoint when I heard a small cry from across the field “Lord Palmerston!”  Anyway, I won the hat.

Hat McCulloch, of course.

Beer Prices:  Another Thirsty Thursday, another 8/10.

Most Caloric Food Item:  In the sense of “caloric” meaning “providing heat”, I have to give the prize to the churros that kept me warm in the late innings.  There were also some pretty loaded cheesesteasks for that rich Colorado Philly flavor.  6/10

Minor League Personalities:  Major League Fans.  Minor league diehards for anyone who stayed the whole game.  Families and teenagers on dates, though they mostly disappeared by the 6th.  4/10

Willingness to Give Random Bloggers Free Seats:  No, but a free hat and towel is worth a point.  1/10
Promotion Quality:  It was military, but didn’t hit you over the head with it, which we appreciate.  Several games between innings and, of course, Free Hat.  6/10

Crowd:  A really large crowd at the start and a surprising number stuck through the rain delay.   The largest exodus was probably at the stretch and we can’t really blame them, but the ones who stayed cheered their team on heartily.  And they did get unreasonably excited about pizza and chanting.  6/10
Funniest Name:  Some honorable mentions go to Damien Magnifico, Asher Wojciechowski, and the aforementioned Kyle Wren.  Our grand prize, though, goes to Destin Hood, which sounds like the place you get to when you fulfill your destiny.  I have rescued the princess and saved the kingdom.  I have achieved destinhood.  7/10

Men’s Room:  A ton, but it was the only warm room in the park.  1/10

Bonus Points:  +1 for mountains lighting up, +2 for short net fun, +1 for Fox in Socks, +1 for awesome ushers, +1 for prizes for the fans after scoreless innings, +2 for hot tub, +2 for Free Hat, +1 for Rally Washcloth, +1 for old retired numbers, +1 for Zach seeing his own breath, +1 for hard root beer floats

54 points on our arbitrary scale.  A pretty park with an entertaining game and lots of free goodies.  It’s a bit of a slog to come down from Denver, but probably wouldn’t get you home that much later on a normal night with Denver traffic.  And we had a surprisingly good time despite the physical discomfort which is out of the team’s control.  Well worth a trip if you’re in the area.  8/10

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