Tagged: Jim Tracy

Chipper Holds Class…Braves Kick Ass


Braves vs Rockies Game 2

Today’s adventure started out early. Hunter and I headed to Groove Chevrolet in Littleton to support MVP Sports and  Colorado sports Artist Kyle Banister who was helping host a Wilin Rosario autograph session.

When we arrived it was still early on in the session and not many folks had arrived yet. I was able to shake hands with Wilin, get one of Kyle’s Rosario prints autographed, and get a picture of Wilin autographed for Hunter.

Wilin was kind enough to pose with us for a picture. I asked Wilin what his favorite part of being a Rockie this season and his face lit up and he said:

 “Everything man, the fans, the players, I love it.”

What Wilin doesn’t know at this point is once you shake the hand of the Ranter..Good things begin to happen.


Wilin is a really nice guy and Kyle drew an awesome print for this autograph session. As we were leaving we ran into Amy, Eric, Gary and Alannah X who were hang’n round enjoying the free lunch after getting Wilin’s autograph.

What I love about Kyle’s artwork is when you step back a few feet it comes to life.

Whenever I think of the Braves I think of my buddy Andy from Spring training. As much as I’ve taken abuse from  him about the Rockies, I give it back too. I enjoy the Braves in town because it usually results in a good batting practice and today did not disappoint.

For a change of pace I switched up gloves. I had a small amount of play from the Rockies today but each time the ball would drop short or fly over my head. However, once the Braves took over the field I knew I had picked the right part of the pavilion to be standing. My first ball was a toss-up that bounced short of the first row. I was able to snatch it up on the second bounce. My second ball was hit hard and I knew it was going to land in the tunnel. I headed for the  tunnel, turned back and was positioned for a perfect tunnel catch. At the last-minute another dude reached into the tunnel from the pavilion and deflected the ball. It went into the tunnel and through the door. I ran in and snagged it.

At this point I’m glad I’ve snagged two balls but I still hadn’t caught one on the fly this season. This was grinding on me hard. Finally with about ten minutes left of BP Dan Uggla hit a homer that had my name on it. I took a few steps to my left and made a perfect catch. I can’t tell you how glad I was to get that first one out-of-the-way.

Today was Cinco De Mayo or as I heard a Rockies fan say Drinko De Mayo 🙂

Here are a few pre-game pictures.

My mission today was to get pictures of Chipper Jones last time at Coors Field.

Cuddy’s Grand Slam..A nice shot into the pavilion.

Jamie Moyers first hit as a Rockie.


I told you once you shake the hand of the Ranter good things happen. This is one of two Rosario homers tonight.

Here’s not only Chipper Jones but Chipper as his bat is starting to shred. First time I’ve gotten a shot of a bat breaking this particular way. Chipper was money tonight and had a career high 5 RBI’s.

Here’s what Tracy had to say about Esmil Rogers:

“With Esmil, it’s back and forth,” Tracy said. “A good day, a bad day, a good day, another bad day. Which guy’s coming? Which guy’s going to show up? That’s what we have to sort out and get to the point where we know a consistent guy’s going to show up on a regular basis. That’s where we’re failing, right?

Major group duck!

 Jim Tracy and his thoughts about the loss:

 “That’s the worst game of the year for us. From the sixth inning on, we didn’t pitch at all. We had a 6-0 lead after two innings, and once we went to our bullpen no one that we ran out there threw with any consistency whatsoever. When you’ve scored 17 runs in the first two games of the series and you haven’t won one, it gives you a pretty good idea of where we’re failing.”

It’s tough to watch Jamie pitch so well then watch a nice lead slip away.

Final Score: Braves 13 Rockies 7…Ouch that’s two now.

I’m “D” The Ranter and I’m thinking I need to shake hands with all of the Rockies.

Slammed his Bat n’ That Was That


Game Two

I was pretty excited about the game today(surprise).


The Rockies had won game one the night before and the Rox Addict had informed me it was raining baseballs during batting practice in the pavilion on Monday. With my record so far I was ready for a downpour.

I was the first in the pavilion and worked my way down to the first row. The Rockies stayed out for most of the half hour we’re allowed to watch them hit. I had play on one ball before the Rockies called it quits. I didn’t bobble it, it just fell about six inches short of my glove as I was leaning over the wall.

I was hang’n with the Rox Addict and my buddy Scott today. After the Dodgers took the field Scott pointed out that Don Mattingly was walking around the field catching pop flys. At one point Don scooped down to pick up a ball that fell short and turned to toss it to the crowd. I called his name and was sure he was going to toss it to me. Instead he tossed it over my head and my buddy Scott snagged it…That’s pretty damn cool in my book and that’s why I show up early. You never know when you’ll make a lifetime memory.

I had play on a few more baseballs but again I pulled a goose egg. It’s starting to stress me a little because my vision isn’t quite what it used to be and I’m hoping that’s not what’s causing me to keep coming up a bit short. Gett’n old sucks, no doubt about it.

I took some pre-game pictures today.

The Hosers

My good buddy and former Rockie Mark Ellis. This guy is a helluva player, not sure why we let him go?

Tony is always dangerous.

Before I could choke down my dollar hot dog the Rockies were down 7-0 and Chacin was a memory.

 In comes Roenicke.

That bat is history but on the plus side no stitches required.

Rockies played hard and got within one run.

Final Score…Dodgers 7 Rockies 6

I like Chacin but the dude is 0-3 this season with 7.03 ERA in 5 starts. This game was his worst with a career-high seven earned runs on 11 hits and four walks.

I’m “D” The Ranter and I’m wondering if the next time I see Chacin start it’ll be in Colorado Springs??

Next game…Saturday vs the Braves…Go Rockies!!


He’s Been Around a While…That Makes Me Smile


Rockies vs Padres Game 2

Older than me and making history.

My buddy “B” went with me to this game. We showed up early for batting practice and I was rewarded with my first ball of the year.

A toss-up from Dexter Fowler…Thanks Dex!

I immediately gave that ball away for good luck because if it weren’t for bad luck, I’d have no luck in my life right now. I had totally spaced out that Jamie Moyer was the starting pitcher today and when I found out that made the game a lot more interesting.

I couldn’t help but smile for the first five innings. The more I learn about Jamie Moyer the more I really enjoy watching his style of pitch. Plus anytime you hear the words Rockies and winning pitcher, believe me that’s a good thing around here :).

Here are the game pictures I took today.

Rosario gets a double.

Cuddy scores off the double.

I think once you’re past 45 you should get an extra swing at least.


Smooth sailing to first.

Smooth sailing to second.

Strike three Dex.

Seriously…Are you kidding me? I think a tumbleweed race would be more exciting.

Racing Teeth is straight up embarrassing. I can say that because I’ve raced inside a Bud Light bottle before.

If you’ve never seen it…Here’s the blog entry:

 Running Full Throttle in a Bottle

Rex Brothers

Huston Street.

Here’s three pictures of Helton’s slide home.

A little closer.

Umpire says safe.


It’s always cool when my pals come up to the Rockpile and hang for a while. The best view is up here 🙂

Rafael…The slowest of the Ninja Turtles.

Slow and steady wins the race this time, here’s the last swing of the game.

Rockies kept it together this time and helped Jamie get his record-breaking win.

You Da Man Jamie!!


 I wish you many more wins as a Rockie…Sir!

 Click here to see Jamie talking about it all:  

Best picture I took all night.

I’m  “D” The Ranter and now I have a ticket that needs the “Oldest Winning Pitcher’s” autograph on it…”D” 🙂


Up and Down and All Around.

Here’s an article about Jim Tracy by Chris Jaffe with help from Tom Nawrocki I thought was interesting and worth sharing…”D”

Chris is a writer for “The Hardball Times”

The rise and fall (and re-rise and re-fall) of Jim Tracy


by Chris Jaffe
April 16, 2012

Jim Tracy has had one of the most peculiar career arcs of any manager in memory. He has an overall career record that’s mediocre despite almost never having mediocre teams. They’re either pretty good or really bad, and Tracy’s reputation seems to rise and fall with his teams.

That last sentence is anything but peculiar. It’s a commonly held and widely believed truism that managers get too much credit for their teams’ successes and too much blame for their teams’ failures.

True, but in Tracy’s case it’s more extreme. Every time his team wins at least 85 games in a season, Tracy receives legitimate support in Manager of the Year voting. Conversely, the people who I know who don’t like Tracy detest him as fervently as I’ve known a manager to be detested.

He’s great. Or he’s terrible. Yet his overall record is smack dab in the middle, as he entered 2012 just 10 games over .500 after nearly 1,600 games managed. He’s an odd manager to try to understand.

This is something that I should know something about; or at least be able to pretend like I know something about it since a few years ago, I wrote a book, Evaluating Baseball’s Managers, 1876-2008 that, well, evaluated baseball’s managers.

With Tracy, what I find striking is not his personal proclivities and tactical decisions. Those are almost extraordinarily ordinary. There are certain things he does more or less than an average skipper, but nothing especially notable. The most interesting thing about Tracy is his career arc.

The rise of Jim Tracy

Tracy first joined the fraternity of big league managers with the Dodgers in 2001 and quickly won acclaim, guiding them to four straight winning seasons, including a postseason appearance in 2004. In his rookie season, he finished second in the Manager of the Year voting. On the face of it, that was an odd and unlikely result. In 2000, the year before Tracy showed up, the team went 86-76. With Tracy in 2001, they again finished 86-76. That normally doesn’t get MoY support.

True, but the 2000 team won with strong pitching, and in 2001, many arms—most notably ace Kevin Brown—fell to injury. Ultimately, only pitcher was able to make more than 25 starts in 2001. Yet they stayed in the pennant hunt until late in the season.

Frankly, that 2001 team was lucky, as going by runs scored and allowed they were a .500 team, but Tracy kept them competitive for each of the next three years. And it wasn’t just luck. With the Dodgers, Tracy had the knack to get good performances out of his pitchers.

There’s a system used in my book to judge this: The Birnbaum Database. The Birnbaum Database was created by Phil Birnbaum to estimate how teams over/underperform their predicted performance in a given year. There are five parts to it, but the two most important are a pair of algorithms Phil invented to look at how hitters and pitchers did versus how they would be expected to do.

Say you want to look at how Kevin Brown did in 2001. You look at his performance in the surrounding seasons and use that to determine what he should’ve done in that particular year. Then you adjust for playing time, park factor, and various other basic mathematical hokey-pokey adjustments and boom, you have a reasonable projection. Now just compare that to reality and you have your result.

Looking at the numbers of just one guy doesn’t tell you too much about the manager, but when you combine enough players together, the sample size becomes meaningful. In other words, it’s not random happenstance that Bobby Cox scores historically great with pitchers. In LA, Jim Tracy scores wonderfully: +240 runs with individual pitchers.

It was in LA that he made the best move of his entire career. In spring training 2002, he made a controversial move, shifting a young starting pitcher into the bullpen. The pitcher was a young arm with talent who could strike people out. I remember some opposed moving this lad to the bullpen. He had talent, and if you kept him in the starting rotation, he’d have more innings and thus could mean more to the team. Admittedly, in two partial seasons in the starting rotation he’d been rather middling, but he was talented and entering his prime.

That young pitcher’s name was, of course, Eric Gagne.

Did that move ever work! For a few years, Gagne was the best closer in baseball. It would’ve been perfectly easy to leave Gagne in the rotation or even ship him to Triple-A, but Tracy thought the young kid could make it as a closer, and boy was he ever proven right.

Gagne isn’t an isolated example. Tracy also managed to get superior performances out of middle relievers Guillermo Mota and Paul Quantrill, both of whom did notably better in Los Angeles than in any other stop in their careers. In 2003, Gagne, Mota, and Quantrill combined to throw 264.2 innings, allowing just 11 homers and 61 walks while fanning 280 batters for a cumulative ERA of 1.66. Tracy also had some success with his starting pitchers, most notably Odalis Perez, but that bullpen was Tracy’s strongest feature.

Anchored by that trio, the 2003 Dodger bullpen posted an ERA+ of 164, which is the highest by any relief unit since WWII.

This should not be overstated. Tracy didn’t have a magic wand that made all pitchers under his care better, but on the whole, pitchers improved.

Tracy’s reputation peaked in 2004. Despite a middling offense and an unimpressive starting rotation—the only truly above-average pitcher was Perez—LA won 93 games and a trip to the postseason. Tracy had four consecutive successful seasons under his belt and was one of the best-regarded managers in baseball.

His future seemed secure, and Tracy looked poised to be the next long-term manager of the Dodgers. Instead, Tracy’s career was about to implode.

The fall of Jim Tracy

Tracy lasted just one more season in LA—an incredibly ugly and controversial season. On the face of it, the year doesn’t look that interesting. The Dodgers lost more than they won; 71-91 to be exact. That’s a disappointment to be sure, but plenty of prominent managers have survived worse without incident. The season itself was quite a bit uglier, and Tracy got caught up in the mess.

The Dodgers had a new GM in 2005, Paul DePodesta, who had come to prominence as Billy Beane’s numbers guru in Moneyball. This was the height of the whole stats-versus-scouts controversy, and DePodesta was a flashpoint in that whirligig with people rooting for and against him based on what he represented. DePodesta made a series of moves that worked out on paper, but the team was done in by injuries, and controversies kept swirling around the team.

Where did Tracy fit into this? He didn’t get along with DePodesta. The two never could get on the same page, and as the year wore on, it just got worse. The Tracy-DePo dynamic became part of the larger concerns surrounding the team.

The situation became so poisonous that I’ve heard one Dodger fan float that the only time he ever seriously wondered if a manager was trying to tank a season to torpedo the front office was in the Dodgers’ 2005 campaign. That certainly didn’t happen, but a team that was in first place in mid-May ended up losing 62 of their last 100 contests.

After 2005, both DePodesta and Tracy would be gone. Tracy might’ve been better off taking a few years off after 2005, just as Jim Leyland took a sabbatical after a draining 1999 season. Instead, after his dismal 2005 campaign, Tracy landed in situation where things would go even worse for him, Pittsburgh.

Prior to Tracy’s arrival, the Pirates hadn’t enjoyed a winning season since 1992. On the surface of it, Tracy’s arrival made no difference whatsoever and his two-year stint was just another forgettable pair of seasons in the recent dreary history of Pittsburgh baseball. The team lost 95 in 2005 without Tracy, dropped 95 and 94 games with Tracy in 2006 and 2007, and then lost 95 with Tracy’s replacement in 2008.

You’d be hard pressed to find a more consistent level of performance among any team over four years. Based solely on that, you wouldn’t expect there to be anything especially good or bad about Tracy’s tenure.

Well, that would be wrong. I don’t claim to know exactly what happened, but I will say this: Never in all my days have I ever encountered fans that so vehemently loathe like Pirates fans do with Tracy.

I spend a good chunk of time at Baseball Think Factory, a nice internet watering hole frequented by fans of all types. I’ve known many Cubs fans that were left seething by the likes of Dusty Baker or Royals fans that cringe at the name Tony Muser, or Brewer fans for which “Yost” is the vilest of all four-letter words. But no fans muster the level of outrage BTF’s Pirates fans reserve for Tracy.

Maybe it’s just some random sample-size fluke based on who I’ve spoken to, but those Pirate fans who I’ve met have all had the same reaction: Jim Tracy is the lowest of the low. They despise him as a manager and to some extent as a man. He threw everyone under the bus and came off horribly.

The team apparently agreed to some extent. As bad as the Pirates have usually been, they give their managers plenty of time. Tracy’s predecessor, Lloyd McClendon, lasted nearly five full years. John Russell, their post-Tracy skipper, held out for four years. But Tracy, despite having a far bigger name than either of them, barely made it two seasons.

Pirate fans have also said Tracy didn’t develop his players worth a damn, and the Birnbaum Database agrees with them there. He scores miserably, and once again dealing with individual pitchers was the engine of his overall score. This time, however, he scored –86 runs with individual pitchers.

Let’s pause here for a second. As noted above, the Birnbaum scores aren’t prefect, and there’s always some noise in the signal. Managers often have their ups and downs, even when it looks like the data are telling us something about the skipper himself. But rarely do managers suffer the sort of whiplash-inducing shift as what happened to Tracy.

The Pirates had a crop of young pitchers that the team rested their hopes on when Tracy arrived in 2006. In general, they fizzled.

It’s one thing to have a dismal departure from LA. He had enough success there to excuse it as just one of those things. But Pittsburgh made it two jobs in a row over three full seasons of disaster. And really, Tracy only had those four good years with only one playoff appearance. It’s not too surprising that Tracy was left dugout-less for a stretch after his days in Pittsburgh.

Jim Tracy: Repeating his own history?

Then, after a few years on the sidelines, in 2009 the Rockies hired Tracy as their midseason manager. As expected, Pirate fans prophesied doom, doom, and even more doom. No good will ever come of Jim Tracy. He’d screw over the kids, be impatient with his players, and be a self-glorifying lout all the while. Just wait.

Well, that isn’t what happened. A team that went 18-28 under Clint Hurdle suddenly erupted, going 74-42 and making a stunning appearance in the playoffs (where the Phillies soon dispatched them). Back from his depths, Tracy’s reputation was restored as he won the Manager of the Year title.

Not only was he successful, but he showed a willingness to do those things he failed at in Pittsburgh. He was patient with the younger players. He took Ian Stewart, who’d been moved all over the diamond, and made him the regular third baseman, allowing Stewart to develop his power stroke to the tune of 25 homers. When Carlos Gonzalez couldn’t hit, Tracy stayed with him anyway, and Gonzalez eventually flourished. Instead of promoting himself, Tracy gave the players all the credit, noting they’d been to the World Series just a few years earlier.

You could seemingly write a new narrative. Former Rockies manager Jim Leyland once explained his failures in Colorado and subsequent success in Detroit by saying that sometimes with a manager what matters most of all is the fit. It’s how he meshes with the situation, not his own personal proclivities. Maybe both DePodesta and the Pirates were just bad fits for Tracy. Maybe he just needed some time to recharge.

Yeah, but instead of building on his initial success, Tracy has once again done another U-turn. The longer he’s been there, the less patient he’s become. Young players who struggled would find themselves back in the minors. Stewart perhaps cratered the worst. In 2011, just two years after looking like the team’s third baseman for years to come, he batted .156 with zero homers. The team traded him away for silly string and chewing gum this most recent offseason.

The team is going backward, not forward, with him. You can all but hear the “Told ya soes” coming from Pittsburgh. Not only are the Rockies stalling from year to year, but also within years. In 2010, the team was in the pennant race until late, but it then dropped 13 of its last 14 games. Last year, they were better, losing only 11 of their last 14. For that matter, in his final season in Pittsburgh his team was 2-12 at the end. Tracy’s teams weren’t normally bad in the past, but that’s a pretty impressive trio of season-ending performance over his last four years on the job.

As for the Birnbaum Database, it doesn’t tell us much about Tracy’s Colorado stay. By its nature, you need data for 2012 and 2013 to measure what happened to players in 2011. His overall career score is still good—he’s +190 runs with pitchers and –25 with hitters—but those numbers could be a bit inflated. Tracy does well in 2011 in part because players are expected to regress a little in 2012-13. When those years are added in, he’ll fall some.

It would be nice to have some brilliant and insightful summation of Tracy’s career to date, but his tenures seem to defy an easy wrap-up. He’s probably the best current example of how a manager can get too much credit or blame for his teams’ wins and losses.

References and Resources
Rockies fan Tom Nawrocki offered some valuable feedback for the Colorado portion of his career.

Baseball Think Factory, as noted in the article, came in handy, especially the thoughts expressed on Tracy over the years by its leading Pirate fans, most notably Mike Emeigh and Vlad.

Phil Birnbaum created the Birnbaum Database, which is actually more elaborate that described here.

History instructor by day, statnerd by night, Chris Jaffe leads one of the most exciting double lives imaginable; with the exception of every other double life possible to imagine. Despite his lack of comic-book-hero-worthiness, Chris enjoys farting around with this stuff. His new book, Evaluating Baseball’s Managers is available for order. Chris welcomes responses to his articles via e-mail.

Iannetta Knew It…The Kid Blew It


Brewers vs Rockies Game 3


Our first Rockies Photo Day..For some reason we always seem to have something going when this day rolls around.

Our little roped off section of Coors field was filled with Rantics. The Rockies who were posing for pictures were all friendly and approachable other than “The Duece”,  who once again lived up to his number. I made a comment that out of the group of eight of us who were doing this round robin with the picture and camera switch during the photo session,   I bet that Tulo would diss four of us.

I was wrong, Tulo dissed six of us and left Hunter standing there just waiting for his picture as he moved past us as quick as he could.

Tulo, c’mon man…Most folks in this state look up to you…Hunter used to. I respect your athletic abilities brotha, but you need lessons on how to treat your loyal fans.

Believe me I’m not ripp’n Tulo for this just this “ONE” time. You don’t earn the nickname “The Duece” overnight :).


Way too many pictures today of players and Rantics to post em all but I’ll share a few.

 Skipper Jim Tracy 

Jim and I

Rox Addict and his famous “Running Man” Pose

Must be contagious, here’s Dan striking a pose.

Me, I’m not really a running man, I’m more of a glider.

Tom Helmer sport’n a mustache?…Guess I have been gone a while 🙂

Gary and Alanna X and the Coaches

Mike and Chris Iannetta “aka Spongebob” holding Spongebob…Perfect!!

Me n Wiggy

Hunter and Ian Stewart 

Ryan Spilborghs

Aaron Cook and the Rantic Red Beards

Cha-Ching on the mound, first pitch of the game after a brief  rain delay was a strike.

Best hat of the game.


I was a little late to the action but I got some pretty good pics.



 It was different watching Chris Iannetta getting gett’n all fired up as he’s usually quiet and reserved. I guess watching  Chris pop his cork got Jim Tracy all fired up.

Usually stuff like this jump starts a team… But this was not the case today.

I’m the “Ranter” and despite the loss I had a great time hang’n with the Crew.

ranter hat.jpg 


I see the light, let’s hope I’m right.


2011_Predictions2.jpgI normally don’t make predictions about how I think the Rockies season will turn out because I don’t want to jinx anything. This is my fourth season blogging about the Rockies and they have yet to win a World Series so I figure a little speculating can’t hurt right?

With the buzz of the new spring training facility and general good vibes it’s creating, good thing are going to happen this year.

Plus it’ll be fun to check back at the end of the season after we win the World Series and see how accurate I was.

                            Rockpile Ranter’s 2011 Rockies Predictions…

First off the Rockies finally break the road curse and become the team to beat on the road winning ten more road games in 2011 than in 2010. This is in part due to the Rockies strength in the bullpen this season.

Ubaldo Jiminez throw 4-27-10.JPGUbaldo Jiminez had 19 wins in 2010

In 2011 Ubaldo will dominate the National League with 22 wins.

Thumbnail image for jason hammel 8-15-10.jpgIn 2010 Jason Hammel had 10 wins

In 2011 Jason Hammel will step it up a bit with 12 wins.

Thumbnail image for Aaron Cook 7-1-10.jpgIn 2010 Aaron Cook had 6 wins.

In 2011 Aaron Cook will improve locking in 8 wins.

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for chacin 2 7-6-10.jpgIn 2010 Jhoulys Chacin had 9 wins.

In 2011 Jhoulys Chacin will continue to make his mark with 12 wins. 

Troy Tulowitzki 5-16-10.jpgTroy Tulowitzki will have his best season to date.

In 2010 Tulo had 27 homeruns, 95 RBI and 11 stolen bases

In 2011 Tulo will hit 36 homeruns, 107 RBI and will steal 18 bases.

Carlos Gonzalez at bat 8-15-10.jpgCarlos Gonzalez will also have his best season to date.

In 2010 Cargo had 34 homeruns, 117 RBI and 26 stolen bases.

In 2011 Cargo will hit 35 homeruns, 120 RBI and will steal 28 bases.

Dexter Fowler bunt 5-16-10.jpg

In 2010 Dexter Fowler had 6 homeruns and 36 RBI and 13 stolen bases.

In 2011 Dexter busts out with an incredible 21 homeruns 65 RBI and 25 stolen bases.


    2010 season win/loss record was 83-79

                                       2011 season win/loss record will be 94-6

                                                        Which means..

National league champions ring.jpg                        This time Jim Tracy’s Rockies are all business.
Thumbnail image for Mylee and Jim Tracy RF.jpg 

World Series Champions.jpg                         Rockies take the World Series in five games.

                            I’m “D” The Rockpile Ranter and I can see the f’kn light.

LIght at the end of the tunnel.jpg                             2011 is the Rockies year… Rantics do you feel me?ranter hat.jpg 

The Tour Was Boring So I Went Exploring

                                 Road Trip to Kauffman

                             Rockies vs Royals Game 1 and 2

Robert and I drove straight through the night on a mission to give the Rockies some much needed support on the road during two of their three games in Kansas City. 
RPR driving 5-21-10.jpg Kaufman Stadium is the closest MLB ballpark to Denver and I’ve been wanting to go there since I read Zack Hample’s blog about his record breaking experience there.

The opportunity to see the Rockies play in KC doesn’t happen often so I jumped on it.

                          Zack Hample at Kauffman Stadium 6-18-2009

Robert hooked me up and drove part of the way so I could get some sleep as I have a job and he’s retired.

                          Although two hours in a car seat ain’t what I’d call quality ZZZZ’s.
George Brett Bridge.jpg

We crossed the Geogre Brett bridge arriving in front of Kauffman Stadium several hours before the joint opened.


Kauffman Parking.jpg

Then we did what any baseball fan and photographer would do the first time they visit a new stadium. We walked around the outside of Kauffman taking pictures getting a feel for it.

            We were also killing some time before we could check into our hotel room.

RPR and Robert 5-21-10 first base gate.jpg

royals mural.jpgWe were told the spot to see the players arriving was by the front entrance so Robert and  I camped our butts there. I had one of the locals explain to me that the groups of collectors sort of split up into two groups.

                            Those who collect autographs and those who sell them.
Split crowd.jpg                             Then there’s Robert. He’s like me,…. we don’t sell them.

Robert camped.jpg How cool is it that the players here use the front gate as their entrance into the stadium?

 I noticed a lot of the Royals players who use that entrance rushed past their fans who were waiting patiently for autographs. I witnessed Billy Butler(Royals first baseman) use his wife and kids as a shield to avoid signing.

Unless you have grotesque warts or a people phobia you should sign for the fans who wait patiently for you.

I can’t really judge Billy though, maybe he signs a lot and today he wasn’t feel’n it? 

There’s (sort of) a secret tunnel that some players use when they want to avoid the painstaking process of signing a few autographs. But I’d say the majority manned up and used the front gate.

(I didn’t try for any autographs today. I just wanted to take pictures. I’ll explain later why I have only a few pictures from Friday.)

We eventually had to leave so we could check into the hotel and get ready for the game but before we did we purchased a ticket for a stadum tour.

                                   Not just any tour, this one was right up my alley .

Thumbnail image for Kauffman Early Bird Tour.jpg
           It was an  Early Bird Tour that gets you inside the stadium an hour early.                  

Ok so let me clarify the title of this entry. The stadium tour wasn’t really boring. In fact if you’re a Royals fan you might even find it interesting.

But from the second I set foot in Kauffman I wanted to explore. I knew the batting cages were up and the players were on the field.

Unfortunately before I could be free I had to watch a twenty minute long movie about the Royals from which there was no escape.

As soon as the movie ended and the tour continued I ducked out for a fake bathroom break and headed straight for left field….See Ya! 

On my way there I walked past the Rockies bullpen where noticed Randy Flores warming-up.

He was finishing up and started walking out to left field to talk to someone. I called out his name but got no response.

I wandered out to where my seat location was in left field to check it out and realized I was the only visible fan in the entire stadium. Finally my moment of zen. I just stood there and let it soak in.

Moments like this are few are far between in my world and I enjoyed every second of my outfield bliss. My entire trip was worth those precious few minutes even if no BP homers were hit anywhere in the outfield during my moment of solitude.

When I came out of my zen moment I looked to my right and standing on the concourse were Robert and one of the tour guides both giving me the come here finger.

                         Oh well it was bliss while it lasted and I got mine.

They met up with me halfway and at that point we were standing along the third base wall. I explained to the tour guide that I really had no interest in the tour and I was only inside the stadium early to catch baseballs.

Just then Randy Flores finished his conversation walked by me and tossed me the baseball he had been holding.

                          Thanks Randy..I thought you didn’t notice but you did.

Our personal tour guide was more than cool. She let us stand behind the Rockies dugout for the rest of the tour. We hung out there watching the entire Rockies team work out until the stadium opened for the rest of the folks. Then we were released and free to roam.

For the short batting practice I stayed in left field but I did go over and check out the right field. It’s very cool the way you can just walk through there or stop and hang out.

I went back to left field and was glad I did. As I was standing on the top row I heard a loud crack and soon I was tracking a baseball heading my direction but beginning to curve to my right.

       I had to dodge a few people and tripped over a chair slightly but I caught that ball.

                I needed that to happen. I needed that memory…Now I could relax.

     I met up with Robert after batting practice. He was shutout and not happy about it.

I never did sit in my exact seat during game one. Yes it was front row in left field but it was in the middle of the row and I would have been trapped. I sat in the last row of left field and had the chance at one home run ball.

Here’s the video the home run and you can see me on the walkway in left field by the Eldeman and Thompson billboard. I wasn’t that close but sometimes baseballs take a bounce so you never know.

                                       Guillen’s two-run blast

This game was a tad depressing. It felt to me like the Rockies were tired and not into it. Not what I wanted to see after a long drive and a long day and the fact that I was totally into it. Props to my man Clint Barmes for trying to get something started with his homer in the eighth inning.Barmes at Bat 5-22-10.jpg

Rockies go on to lose my first regular season road trip game to see them by a final score of 9-2. To add insult to injury the next morning my film card got erased when we were trying to upload some of Robert’s pictures to my card. 

So all of my day one pictures were deleted. It was my fault not Robert’s. For me losing pictures is like losing a friend. My pictures are my memory and my story..Oh well.

The Royals put on a fireworks show every Friday (home games), immediately after the game.

                            Here’s a few pictures Robert took of the display. 
DSC_4491.jpg                               Rockies vs Royals Game Two

Armed with a freshly erased film card, a six pack of local brew and a desire to catch up on my picture taking Robert and I arrived at Kaufmann Stadium shortly after 11 am and proceeded to do a little tailgat’n.Tailgat'n at Kauffman 5-22-10.jpg

             Not a bad beer for a local Pale Ale..Colorado’s microbrewed beer is better.KC Beer 5-22-10.jpg

Today was the World Series re-match of the 85 Royals vs the 85 Cardinals. Except they were playing softball.

              I guess the big yellow softballs are easier to hit after you’ve retired.

 I did my outside the stadium walk again and took pictures as we waited for the players to arrive and the gates to open.Kauffman Stadium 1.jpg

Kauffman Stadium 2.jpg

Kauffman Stadium 3.jpg

Kauffman Stadium 4.jpg

Kauffman Stadium 5.jpg

                         The first Rockie to arrived was manager Jim Tracy.

Jim signed for everyone and when he got to me I shook his hand, introduced myself and told him that we came out from Denver to support the Rockies. I also mentioned that I write the world famous blog called the Rockpile Rant.

Feeling brave I then asked,… “Jim if I were to show up at the dugout at the end of the game is there any chance I could get the line-up card?”

Jim smiled and informed me that “they”(I’m not sure who “they” is), keep those cards. I was a bit bummed but Jim said it so damn nice that I didn’t mind.

                                     Jim Tracy is one helluva nice guy.Jim Tracy signing for fans 5-22-10.jpg        Several other Rockies arrived via taxis. Here’s Matt Belisle signing my baseball.

Matt Belisle signing 2 5-22-10.jpgIan Stewart signed for damn near every Royals fan there. For some reason he totally ignored me even when I wished him good luck. Not sure what was up with him today.
Ian Stewart 2 5-22-10.jpg We drove a long way and I don’t mind not getting an autograph but I could have done without the scowl. No worries Ian, there’s always a second chance here on the Rockpile Rant.

                                             Everyone has a bad day.Ian Stewart 5-22-10.jpg

Carlos Gonzalez arrived quick and entered quick. He recognized me from Coors and on his way in signed a ball on the sweet spot for me. I wished him good luck and that was it.

                                                      Thank you Carlos !
Carlos Gonzalez autograph.jpg It was 1pm and time to enter the stadium. The field was set up for softball with fences in the outfield that kept falling down…Kinda funny. 
Fence falling down 5-22-10.jpgThe retired players were starting to come out of the dugouts and began warming up. You’d swear Snap, Crackle and Pop were throwing out the first pitch with all the bones creaking.

                                            Here are the 1985 Cardinals
1985 Cardinals 5-22-10.jpg                                               Here are the 1985 Royals
1985 Royals 5-22-10.jpg Robert and I figured we’d try for an autograph so we headed to the Royals side first. Danny Jackson was kind enough to autograph a ball for me. Danny had a homer in the game.Danny Jackson 5-22-10.jpgDanny Jackson autograph 5-22-10.jpg Then we headed over to the Cardinal’s side, that’s where I met a very cool dude named John.Huge Rockies Fan.jpg John introduced himself and said he was Rant reader. He told me he thought the Rockpile Rant was entertaining.. John was on a road trip’n to Kauffman just like Robert and I. 

He’s a huge Rockies fan and helped me get an autograph from Jack “The Ripper” Clark.

John was able to reach down low enough to hang a baseball in Jack’s face. Jack then grabbed the ball and signed it. Jack the Ripper.jpg                 Jack even autographed it “Ripper”. This is now one of my favorite autographs.Jack the ripper autograph.jpg                Here’s a shot of John working Kauffman getting his Rockies helmet signed.Working it 5-22-10.jpg

                     Nice to meet you John and thank you very much brotha!

I thought it was intersting and cool that more people walked up to me, introduced themselves and told me they read the Rant in the two games I was here in KC than the entire season so far at Coors.

  Does that mean there are a lot of Rockies fans in KC or do I just have national appeal?  🙂 

                Either way it was an honor to meet and talk to all those nice folks.

                                      Here’s a few shots from the softball game. 

                                   Here’s “Jack the Ripper” trying to rip one.Jack Clark at bat 5-22-10.jpg                                                                Group Photo
85 Classic photo.jpg
85 Classic photo 2.jpg    Not that the score really mattered but it was 4-1 Royals over the Cardinals again.

When the game finished it was time to take some warm-up photos of the Rockies and then head up as high as I could get behind home plate for the stadium shot before the game started.

                                               Rockies warming-up.Tulo and Stewart 5-22-10.jpg

                                                          LOOK OUT        Smith toss 2 5-22-10.jpgStewart and Tulo warm up 5-22-10.jpgGiambi Helton 5-22-10.jpgJ Giambi 5-22-10.jpg                                                            Alanna Rizzo.

                      Robert offered to take a picture of her and I but I chickened out.Alanna Rizzo 5-22-10.jpg

                                                 Spilly signing for the kids.Spilly signing 5-22-10.jpg

Hammel toss 5-22-10.jpg                                                     Manny Corpas pre-game.Manny Jamm'n 5-22-10.jpg

    I started climbing and here’s the picture that Robert took of me when I reached the top.
RPR at the top of Kauffman.jpg                              I peered out and here’s a shot of Arrowhead Stadium.Arrowhead under construction 5-22-10.jpgI decided to catch the beginning of the game from the very top. I believe other than the Yankees big screen this one is the biggest in baseball.
Full view Stadium.jpg       I thought you Rockies fans might like to see your Rockies on the really big screen.Giant Helton 5-52-10.jpg

                                            Here’s a shot of Todd at bat from above.Helton at bat 5-22-10.jpgxGiant Hawpe 5-22-10.jpg

xGiant Giambi.jpg

                                           Here’s Giambi at bat from above. Giambi from above 5-22-10.jpgGiant Fowler.jpg                                                    Dexter at bat from above.Fowler at bat 5-22-10.jpg                             I’ve seen every one of Jeff Francis’s starts so far.Francis from above 5-22-10.jpg                                 Check out the guy trying to Hi-5 the weiner.

Guy HI five the weiner.jpg                                                 Robert and a pair of feet.

Robert and feet.jpg                                    Some shots of the inside of Kauffman.

                                              The Pepsi Party Porch

Thumbnail image for Pepsi Party Porch.jpg                                                    Bud Light Party Deck

Bud light party Deck.jpg                                            Outfield pole to outfield pole.

Outfield pole to outfield pole.jpg

Francis and Stewart 5-22-10.jpgHawpe at bat 5-22-10.jpgTulo and Barmes 5-22-10.jpg Tulo Gum 5-22-10.jpg Matt Belisle 5-22-10.jpg Beimel.jpg Beimel throw 5-22-10.jpg 
Barmes jump.jpg                                 Remember former Rockie Scott Podsednik? Scott Podsednik 5-22-10.jpgI remember him because he would never sign autographs for fans. Rumor has it here he hasn’t changed.

Ok now to the only ugly part of the trip. About the sixth inning I was sitting along the third baseline almost alone minding my own business taking pictures watching the game. The only people close to me were a group of rowdy college kids.

They were drunk as hell razzing the Rockies, no worries. All was cool until they threw a peanut at me. I turned around and stared them down. They all looked away and I turned back around and let it slide. Then a second peanut was thrown. I saw who did it this and this time I stared him down.

A few minutes went buy and they started chanting LETS GO Roy-Als. Over a period of time that developed into F’ck you Rockpile.

I couldn’t believe it at first, I don’t mind hazing but this made it personal. So I sat there debating what to do. Finally I got up, walked in front of the group and said, “What’s up, you got something to say… Say it now”

The group went silent. I stood there for over 30 seconds and not one of them uttered a word.

Just as I thought. No balls just talk. I let them know exactly what part of a woman’s anatomy they were and headed up the stairs out of that section. 

The whole time this was going on a young usher just a few feet away oblivious to everything. I asked if he had witnessed any of that and he said “Witnessed what?” 

I’d like to point out this Usher as he was a Jack-A’ss himself. Good job buddy way to monitor your area. 

*NOTE: Other than this Usher every other Usher at Kauffman stadium was friendly and helpful to us. Many of them came up to Robert and I over the two days we were here and asked about our Jerseys and where we were from. 

                                         KC Royals USHER of the YEAR
Usher of the year.jpg

       I decided to leave that area as I prefer to eat peanuts instead of get hit with them.

As I was walking up the stairs I was thingking “WTF am I doing? That’s not how I roll!” So I walked back down the stairs and picked a seat close to these folks and started taking pictures and shooting video.

                                                   That’s how I roll.

          Here’s the Peanut Chucker…He’s my Royal’s Jack-A’SS of the game.

Thumbnail image for Royal Jack-xxx.jpgIn case you doubt my story here’s a little video of this classy group in action.                   

                             Remember at this point the Rockies are up 3-0?? 


 I questioned myself afterwards on whether or not I did the right thing. What would you have done in my shoes? You know when someone makes it personal?

         Either way it felt good to call them on it. The Rockies win this one 3-0.

Final Score game 2 kc.jpg Jeff Francis gets his second win and Robert and I get to exit Kauffman stadium with our heads held high. It wasn’t much fun walking out the previous night losers.

Robert and I took the opportunity to razz the Royals fans as we left the parking lot.

                                          Hell Yeah Go Rockies 

I had planned to stay a bit late and try to sneak into the batter’s eye like my man Zack Hample last year but things have changed since his visit there.

                                 Probably because of his visit there 🙂

Employees now empty the batters eye daily. Other changes include the stadium only opening 1.5 hours early. It used to be 2.5 hours. Rumor has it the players were complaining that the fans were bugging them as they tried to warm-up. Go Figure :).

                                 Damn those pesky fans who pay their salaries.

                                         A few more pictures…My autographs.KC trip autographed Bballs.jpg

season ticket stubs.jpg                                              The Hostess Sweet Spot.Hostess sweet spot.jpg

 Royals Cup.jpg Kent informed me tht the guy wearing the Royals cape is Chris. This dude has been to almost 500 consecutive Royals home games.

                                                        Nice job Chris!

IMG_1061.JPGThe only other thing I wanted to do before I left Kansas City was eat some good BBQ. We decided on Gates BBQ because it was close and I heard it was excellent.

Gates BBQ restaurant.jpg       Andy(from spring training) had recommended this place and here’s what I ordered.
Gates BBQ Pork Sandwich.jpg Best BBQ I’ve ever had in my life. The pork sandwich was the tenderest pork I’ve ever tasted and it melted as it hit your tounge.

                                     Thanks Andy, I’ll never doubt you again.

Full stomach and the sun setting we hit the road home in search of some thinner and less humid air. 
sun setting over Kansas.jpg                Kansas had great food but it’s way too flat and I dig my mountains.

  After I dropped off Robert and was almost home I had to just stop and look. You know, one of those moments.Colorado Rockies my home.jpg

                                           Home Sweet Home Colorado

                              Props Go Out To:

All of the Ushers at Kauffman Stadium. Other than the above mentioned guy you were all professional and friendly.

The dudes who hung out in front of the stadium before the games. I chatted with several of you and you gave me good information. I really appreciate that..Thanks

The people of Kansas City. Other than the small group of hooligans throwing peanuts the rest of you are good people and I enjoyed my visit to your state.

Robert for hang’n with me on this adventure.

I’m “D” The Rockpile Ranter and thanks for joining me on my 58 hour Rockies road trip.

                                                        Go Rockies…DThumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Green Floppy Hat.JPG