Sometimes it’s just a few inches…

Day 196

 

By now you’ve all seen it. Carl Crawford robbing my boy Brad Hawpe of a homerun in the all-star game. Not cool. Great job for him and the American League but so not cool for Brad in his first at bat in his first all-star game and a chance for America to see one of the best right fielders in baseball. It got me thinking though. A few more inches and the ball is a homerun out of the reach of Crawford’s glove and life is completely changed. Just a few inches..

Recently if you’ve dropped by I Live for This written by one Mrs. Emily Marshall, you’ve read that she and I were able to take some time out to enjoy the American pasttime in the great stadium of Coors Field.

She asked me how life was going and all I could respond was that I felt like I was a giant 747 stuck in a holding pattern. Not landing and not flying, I was just seemingly revolving in a circle trying to figure out the best way to maneuver. Not long after I felt a presence greater than me and I had to smile as I stopped in time to savor the moment. I excused myself to take and picture to capture that memory and when I came back, Emily had asked me if I had gotten my picture.

DSCN0547.JPG     Coors Field by Tom Walsh 

 I sure did. 

I laughed as I was posting this, because I remembered taking it and I had moved a few inches over a few times trying to get what I considered the perfect picture. I wanted to remember that feeling and how beautiful the park looked and what a perfect temperature a summer evening can bring. Just a few inches…

It was amazing the next night and how the promise of a few inches of rain could immediately stop a game. Scoreboard read threats of a heavier down pour and lightning, stopping the game in it’s tracks.

 

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     Coors rain out by Tom Walsh

A few inches of rain could flood a field and a lot of baseball fans.

The more I thought the more it seemed a few inches could change so much..

How many men would love just a few more inches to work with..?

How many caught stealing second could have stolen bases if they had been a few inches under the tag..?

How many soldiers would still be alive if the bullet had been a few inches farther over?

How many hearts would not be broken if nice words had fallen a few inches closer to the heart or retaliatory words had been a few inches farther away..?

How many homeruns would there be if a few more sliders stayed up just a few more inches..?

How many people would have won the lottery had they been a few inches ahead in the line where the winning ticket was purchased..?

If you heard from Emily, I tried my best to mentor the eager young baseball fan to score some autographs. She had gotten some before at promotional events, but I learned never any at a ballgame.

Before too long, she would figure out that getting autographs at times was just a matter of
DSCN0493.JPGinches. After missing out on an opportunity with Chris Ianetta the first day, I was quick to point out where to put the item to be autographed and it was, you guessed it, just a few inches further.

Bam, calling the spirit of Billy Mays (RIP), Emily had not only perfected her technique but had used all the vicarious knowledge I could give to score not one, but three autographs the next day. Bam, Chris Ianetta could now be checked off the list. Emily had her first autograph at a big league stadium.

The always gentleman Clint Barmes took Emily’s pen, went to place his down on the wall, and just like that as it was falling, caught it within inches of it’s departure. Of course being the guy I am, I had to point out I “expected nothing else from our sure handed second baseman.” It got a genuine smile and it was a compliment I was happy to give.

I explained to Emily that ever since I had first met Clint in his Triple-A days many years ago, he has been and I presume will always be a class act. He’s about as humble and nice a guy you could ever expect in a baseball player and I’ve always loved him for that. I still keep his autographs from the Triple-A days with the same regard as his now. Who knows, maybe had his life or a major life experience like him falling down carrying a slab of deer meat in his rookie of the year run in 2005 and had him falling a few inches differently and not breaking his collar bone, he becomes a major idiot?

 

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     Clint Barmes by Tom Walsh

Personally, Barmie (as we call him around these parts) I’m glad you never lost that sense of humility you have always carried with you. Maybe it seemed like that injury years ago was an unfair place to get hurt and a few inches the other way, but I like the way it’s turned out.

 This poor guy had a blood clot that could have travelled a few inches over into his heart and killed him.

 

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     Aaron Cook by Tom Walsh

Before the end of the season, I’d like to see his knuckleball dropping a few more inches and him getting back into that number one starter role we need him to be to overtake the Dodgers.

But you get the point and so does my leg as I need to move this laptop a few inches off it before it gets burned.

Just remember though, whenever it seems like miles before a break in the circumstances, those miles are just made up of inches and it just takes a few…

Down but not out…outside Coors and still looking in…and 27th?

Day 189

 

So much for a poignant well written come back letter…maybe I was never gone, but movable type decided it wanted to sign me out and when I signed back in I had two letters of an at least 700 word blog. Ah the universe.So here’s the leftovers..just kidding.

Hello each and all and welcome to another addition of Rocky Mountain Way. As you can see from the header, I am still outside Coors looking in. Maybe someday I can score a janitor’s key or something, but for now it’s just the little ‘ol me wishing and waiting on a dream.

Where to begin? What’s it been like a week or something? I’m sure some would surmise of my demise, but alas I am still here. Hmm with that sentence maybe I should go seek a job at the local renaissance fair. C’mon you know you all knock it until you go and find yourself being one of the geeks telling yourself next year you’re going to put aside some cash to score a cool costume like everyone else. C’mon we’re all friends here.

Trying to get back into the swing of things and needing baseball like a junkie needs a fix, I find myself trying to track down where exactly everything is. Just then,like the forever thoughtful MLBlogger she is, Julia stopped in to say she missed me and by the way I was 27 in the lastest rankings. 27? I’m sure with my absence I’ll be 72 come next time. But for now I am 27 and the spirit of Mr. Jimmy C who came up with a cool idea seemingly a long time ago, I am going to dedicate this blog to the man known as #27 Garrett Atkins.

 

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     Garrett Atkins by Tom Walsh

Travelling across America and putting 10,000 miles on the Rockies Roadster I got to know a little better the man known as Garrett Atkins. I’m not saying we became friends or anything, but I got to see him outside Coors and even had a few exchanges with him that had me thinking a great deal about the guy.

I remember an usher in Houston walking over to Garret while he was warming up and saying something softly to him. Moments later Atkins would come running over to a little boy at the wall where a proud papa would blurt out before he could even reach it, “his name is Garrett Atkins too.” Atkins would smile and say “I heard.” Signing the little boys gear, it was clear he cared and whether it was a fluke or a on purpose this kid was named after him he, wanted to acknowledge it.

 

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     Garrett Atkins by Tom Walsh

At that same moment I reminded him he had signed my team ball and to not make me out to be a liar because I had promised him it was a slump buster in Atlanta. He laughed and said, “It’s gotta turn sometime.”

Fittingly enough, I think of that line a lot these days. When everything seems to be in a slump for me, I think back to that moment and say to myself, it’s gotta turn sometime.

Later that night, I think I was proud as any fan could be in Houston when Atkins hit back to back homeruns in the game. Minute Maid park has very little foul territory along the walls and I was sitting literally in the front row yelling, “It’s gotta turn sometime” as he rounded third base. Third base seemed so close and I hoped he could hear me. I was happy for the guy. That game wouldn’t get him out of his slump, but it was a nice start.

It hit me hard as I was on that road trip and I heard rumors of the Rockies looking to trade Atkins. Since 2005 where he had been stationed over at third base, I watched a rising star come up in the organization. Now, I had talked to a Rockies insider and heard they had been trying to trade him the entire off season. I know baseball is a what have you done for me lately game, but I was sad to hear the front office thought there was a better third baseman lying around.

I don’t play fantasy baseball but I’m sure Garrett has been taken off a few teams this year. Hitting .225 in 227 at bats this season, his future is uncertain. Young Ian Stewart has taken over third base and Atkins plays sparingly. Everything I’ve heard says he is completely professional in his situation and still a great team player. I wouldn’t have guessed anything else.

 

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     Garrett Atkins by Tom Walsh

One thing I know for certain, Garrett and I, ironically enough, are stuck in similar places in different situations in our life. We are both talented and in a “slump” if you will, so it’s fitting I get to dedicate my number 27  ranking to a class act in the Rockies organization. We both know too, it’s gotta turn sometime.

A chip and a chair

Day 174

 

Woke up this morning and I got myself a beer. The future is uncertain but the end is always near… The Doors

 

I like the game of poker and there is a saying I have always been fond of- a chip and a chair. Basically, it just means that as long as you have at least a chip and a chair at the table you are still in the game. The odds may be heavily stacked against you, but there is still hope.

Dear readers of Rocky Mountain Way..Outside Coors looking in, I have some not so great news. The money for Baseball Across America has come to an end. It saddens me to have to even think of this post and for the last few days I didn’t even have the stomach to write it.

There are plenty of reasons why the money came up short and I am okay with every one of them. They each represented something and it was part of the journey. I would not have known my cat, who now resides with my parents, would need serious dental surgery and it would take a significant chunk of money. But I would never regret paying for it, because even if for a few moments of being around her, she brings love to so many. World meet Samantha.

 

DSCN0497.JPGSo I missed more ball games and opportunities to meet new and interesting people. The joy she brings is worth more than all of that. Knowing she would be suffering while I was galvanting across America would never have sat well with me.

Maybe I bought one too many hot dogs or should not have taken in so many places to spend money, but that was part of the journey. Whether it was tipping a really cool beer enthusiast bartender who picked my brain about Colorado breweries, or a healthy tip for a tired ballpark vendor, it all added up. I wouldn’t want any of it back.

I don’t want to say that I am not saddened or upset at not being able to finish out the season, but in retrospect everything I did to get to this point is pretty damn crazy and satisfying in my book.  I don’t know anyone else who sold, donated or disposed of %90 of their posessions, moved out of their home, became a nomad and decided to follow baseball.

People have asked with a sort of speculation what I would do after the money ran out, like I had a nice nest egg lying in wait ready to open and start life over again. I assure you that when I said I cashed in my 401k that puppy is gone, like the wind. So here I am. yet again jacking wifi from a business who puts out the strongest signal. I have no permamnent home and basically the Rockies Roadster and some friends and family to bounce around with for awhile. Still the open road calls to me with its allure.

I believe everything happens for a reason and I know I am here for some reason I am not yet aware of. Leaving Chicago, I was able to meet up with Jeff of RSBS and it was a “short” encounter in that I was not able to spend days with him, but the time was interestingly more meaningful then I think Jeff even understood. See, Jeff passed on a book to me that I read in two days flat. I read it with an overall understanding of the author and his ordeal, but I did not understand the impact it would have upon me. If Jeff did, then I think China imparted some wisdom on him that he is keeping up his sleeve. 

That’s when I wondered, had I had even a momentary impact on any of the people I met along the way? Hearing stories and listening long enough to offer that person an opporunity to be heard. I always say that everybody has a story but people don’t often slow down long enough to hear it. I heard many and will be forever changed.

That’s where a chip and a chair comes in. I am still actively looking for a short time job opportunity that will allow me to launch yet again into the heart of America. Every ballpark had its own qualities and peoples and I know there is more yet to learn. My chip and my chair aren’t gone yet, but the odds are completely stacked against me.

I guess that’s where hope comes in yet again. Starting out on this crazy adventure, I wondered how America would receive me. Young, old, liberal, conservative, Cubs, Dodgers, what would I see? I can honeslty say that my belief in people is at an all time high. I won’t lie and say it’s not like a drug calling to me. The idea of one more road trip or one more amazing person to meet tears at me, but I have to work with what I have because as Mick Jagger loves to belt out, ” You can’t always get what you want. But if you try sometimes you just might find. You get what you need.”

I am not exactly sure what it is I need, but I keep turning over rocks and turning pages in hopes of a clue or more of an answer. My father went to the hospital yesterday and I asked him how it went when he came home. “Terrible.” My first thought was the tests went bad and how bad was it. He explained how everything came to a stop as they rushed in a 92-year-old man into the emergency with a trauma one. He had shot himself in the head and would die 15 minutes later.

It hit me hard because I empathized with that man what it took to get to that point. He had probably lost all his friends, was probably in poor health and just had given up. It put all my sadness into perspective immediately. Yes, I wanted another shot at America, but at least I had the hope this poor man had lost.

I wondered if he had shed a tear at seeing the most beautiful fire fly in St Louis or had known the roar of the crowd at Wrigley? Had he driven the back highways of middle America and listened to a lively conversation about back yard groundhogs in a Dairy Queen. Mostly, I wondered if anyone had slowed down to listen to his story, because now it was too late.

Rocky Mountain Way will continue on. Should I find the money to restart this journey, I may be in a town near you. Until then be good to your neighbor because they are probably a lot more like you then you think. Hug a loved one because they may not know what you feel and the next time at the ballpark take it all in, not just in a hurried rush to get to your seat and kill time, but take it all in because you never know when it could all end.

LIke this sign in Nebraska said…

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Where in the world is Tom Walsh?

Day 169

 

Something I didn’t realize I would come across before I undertook this adventure was waking up in the morning and wondering, “Where the hell am I?”

It happened again today. Opening my eyes and coming out of a slumber, I had to ask myself where was I. Like the hourglass on a computer, telling you there is processing going on, I flipped through all the places I could be and realized I was back in the 5280 (Denver). What a crazy feeling.

I drove back from Chicago Monday and got into Colorado and Coors Field Tuesday just in time to see the Rays punch my Rockies in the face and snap the amazing win streak they had been on. Oh well, had to end sometime but I can’t explain how good it felt to be back in the heart of Coors. Home sweet home. But, let me get you the reader caught up as I have been absent in the blogosphere.

Chicago

I can understand when old Franky Sinatra sang, “My kind of town Chicago.” What a blast. taking time off to make a pit stop in this city was a great thing to do and I recommend it for anyone. Here’s a quick pictorial of a few things to see.

DSC07897.JPGCheck the “bean” out if you want to see some cool art in downtown Chicago.

 

DSC07925.JPGTake the red line up to the beach and laugh at how they bring in palm trees to give you the feeling of a beach on Lake Michigan. The beach is awesome, but think about how palm trees would not grow in the Chicago winter.

 

DSC07927.JPGSit down at a beach bar and have yourself a weekend lunch before you jump back on the train.

Look who I found!

Chicago has some famous people in it’s history and it’s present. Maybe not as famous, but always near the top of the blogging world- Jeff Lung of RSBS. Yep, had to touch base with this blogger while in the windy city.

 

DSCN0484.JPGJeff was awesome enough to not only recommend an awesome Chinese restaurant, but also whip out that crazy Chinese fluency. Allen was not kidding when he said Jeff is more fluent than most Chinese. Watching the man in action was impressive.

After a very good meal and some great conversation, Jeff indeed lived up the quality he puts on every blog. I would have liked to have seen him in action, live on stage doing some standup, but that leaves something else to do in Chicago when I make it back.

Thanks for the meal Jeffrey and the book, I look forward to reading it. This guy is the real deal and MLBlogs is lucky to have him in the community even if he isn’t a Bud Selig apologist…

The long and winding road

Heading out of Chicago would mean at least 15 hours on the road heading to Coors Field. A little bit of rain in Iowa, a nice drive for the most part, and Chinese food leftovers beginning to smell up the Rockies Roadster, the trip was pretty good.

If you have never hit up a truck stop shower you should at least once in your life. Nebraska was the perfect place for that and low and behold they had a sign I had to take a picture of.

 

DSCN0485.JPGSays it all.

Coors sweet Coors

Driving in to the Mile High city I saw the rain clouds looming and I thought what a way to welcome me back nature.

 

DSCN0486.JPGNature would not be the only soggy moment as the Rays would welcome themselves into the confines of Coors with a homerun fest that would equal 12 runs in a 12-4 beat down of my boys.

 

upton.JPGThe final score hurt but it was so nice to be back in the familiar territory of the Rockies.

 

DSC07957.JPGWatching the sun set on Coors and the clouds begin to roll out, I had faith the Rockies would come back strong the next night and they did, taking the game 5-3. Today they took the series and look strong as ever. That run was no fluke.

So back in Colorado for now, but the road beckons yet again next week as the Rockies take on the Pirates at home and then on to Los Angeles for more interleague play versus the Angels and then Oakland and the A’s.

I’m sure while out there, I will have the same feeling of waking up and asking, “Where the hell am I?” I’ll just answer I am everywhere I need to be : )

Who knew Chicago would be so live…

Day 165

 

You ever think in your life that you should have a soundtrack like a Hollywood movie? Like when the lead character is walking down the street and some cool and catchy song is summing up the scene. Waking up on a Sunday morning two blocks from Wrigley I have a tune in my head.

Remember the song in Slumdog Millionaire “Paper Planes?” The gal from MIA singing the catchy phrases and you can’t help but bob your head with a rhytmic swagger.

“Sometime I been sitting on trains. Every stop I get ’till I’m clocking my game.Everyone’s a winner we’re making our fame. Bonaifide hustler making my name.”

My boys are working on a 10 game winning streak and with a confident swagger walking into stadium bars across from Wrigley and seeing the repeated highlights, I like what I see. Not on top of the division but all of the baseball world is looking to see what got into these guys. Rockin the purple and grey I have a permanent smirk.

 

DSCN0352.JPGWalking into Wrigley with $15 standing room only tickets and getting $200 worth of tickets from a fan who gave my friend Nick and I seats 12 rows up from the field near homeplate…for free. Paying more for the Old Style then the tickets…

DSCN0365.JPGSeeing what I thought I would never see, another teams fans take over Wrigley. How many cities had I seen Cubs fans take over opposing stadiums and here I would be watching Twins fans dominate the friendly confines.

 

DSCN0370.JPGLike a blur with moments of clarity and chaos thrown in, the days in Chicago have been as live as I could have ever thought.

 

DSCN0355.JPGWho knew Chicago would be so live…

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The food and the drink and vibe is all pretty incredible. Depending on where you go, you can get lost in any direction you’d like.

 

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Nobody should ever go hungry in this city.

So much to do so little time. Where to get lost now?

 

Shortest post ever

Day 162

 

Let me just enjoy this. There’s nothing I could write or say. I asked for it before I left Colorado. I was hoping for a win.

Me, I can’t get out of town fast enough. Not because I don’t love Colorado this time of year, but because I am looking for any reason to see the Rockies first put together a win, then maybe a second. Who knows, with enough luck I may get to see a winning streak.

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I got it. Two sweeps in a row…I’m gonna think about what I should want to see next : )

I love Milwaukee!!

Day 161

 

That’s number 7! Yep. I cannot say it any better than that. The Rockies are on fire and I don’t see a water hose anywhere in sight. Winning back to back series, who knows where this train is going to end.

So needless to say I love Milwaukee!

My friend and I sat next to some very cool but intense Brewer fans. They were great for all kinds of information and they even clued me in on who this guy is still coming in to close games playing “Hells Bells.” I wouldn’t get to see him these first two games and although I’d like to see how crazy the crowd supposedly gets when he comes in, if he doesn’t we have a lead going into the ninth and I like it that way.

 

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     Trevor Hoffman by Tom Walsh

Scoreboard baby scoreboard

 

DSCN0270.JPGAfter the game we had gotten the word on a place to check out. I’m always up for an adventure and sure enough we would find one of the coolest bars ever. So cool even some scenes from Major Leagues had been filmed there. Being the nerd I am, I had to ask the waitress to take the photos recreating them. What a blast.

 

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majorleague.JPGIt was 1989 when it was filmed so some things had changed, but the bar was still pretty much the same as the movie.

 

DSCN0286.JPGThe waitress was very cool and even enlisted another one for a “stand in” role.

 

majorleague2.JPGSo I’m not sure what statue makers are thinking these days and I came across a staute of the “fonze.” It was pretty terrible so I had to give it the thumbs down.

 

DSCN0307.JPGWell, the day grows longer and I am off to track down some Laverne and Shirley. Milwaukee has far too much to see before another night game.

Go ROCKIES!!

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