Sports Memories

My Packers fan asked me the other day what football games I remember besides last year’s Bronco Super Bowl win. That doesn’t count, he said, because you were there. I realized that very few of my sports memories are actual plays, and I do not have a single stat in my brain.

But I remember…

…the first time my parents let me stay up late to watch a big game. The Bullets won the Championships. And as they celebrated, Queen’s “We are the Champions” played, and I was so happy and moved by the emotion of the win and the song that I cried.

…making a touchdown on the 7th grade camping trip.

…screaming until my voice gave out every time my sister swam in a race.

…feeling my heart break for Georgetown’s Fred Brown when he passed the ball to UNC’s James Worthy in a mistake that allowed Carolina to win the 1982 championship game.

…accidently smacking an opponent in the face with my lacrosse stick as I turned around to say something to our goalie when the ball was at the other end of the field.

…decorating the inside of my locker with newspaper clippings of John Riggins, Dexter Manley, Art Monk, and Darrell Green, and getting to miss school to go to the Super Bowl parade when the Redskins won.

…watching as one of the New York guys in my sophomore dorm ran through the halls banging on doors to celebrate the Mets’ World Series win in 1986.

…my husband doing the most funny Village People YMCA you’ve ever seen at a baseball game, so funny I do not even remember what game or which team. But I can still see his grin.

…being at the 2007 World Series cheering for the Rockies with my two week old son.

Since that day, my sports memories mostly come from watching my kids watch games. So I will remember my passionate Packers fan donning one of his brother’s many Falcons jerseys for the Super Bowl game last night, but showing me his Packers jersey and his loyalty underneath.

I have already forgotten the plays in the playoff game two weeks ago when the Falcons beat the Packers, but I will remember the boys’ “truce” for the game and their surprising sportsmanship throughout.

And now, the only thing I will remember about Super Bowl 51 is my Falcons fan lying on his bedroom floor crying, “Why? Why? Why?”

Historic World Series

Soccer practice was over. Homework was done. The dinner dishes were clean. So we all headed upstairs to get ready for bed, do the third grader’s out-loud reading, and watch the end of the 7th game of the World Series.

Indians versus Cubs. Two teams you want to cheer for because success must be sweeter for an almost-forever underdog. We are Rockies fans, so we know. And while we decided that 1948 and more than a century feel equally bad, we went for the longest-time loser.

And our former outfielder – a Rocky turned Cubby – started the game with an historic walk-on homerun.

But the second I closed my third grader’s The Worst Class Trip Ever, I crashed into a deep sleep. So did my husband and the third grader, while the older boys watched and cheered around us. It has been a very busy few weeks.

Then suddenly… “Cubbies won! Cubbies won!” Boys jumping on the bed. Hi-fiving. Our dog, disturbed from slumber, barking. Three once sleeping bodies trampled on. “Go Cubs!”

An exciting Series for two teams who have wanted it for so long. Sadly, mom, dad and the third grader missed its thrilling end. Sometimes, no matter how much you want to see the ninth inning or the tenth – history in the making – your typically insignificant eyelids wield their power. And you sleep.

Baseball’s Opening Day Tradition

One of my favorite springtime traditions is Opening Day at Coors Field. As a mom, it is a real getaway-kind-of-treat. As a wife, it is fun to be the one who gets to celebrate baseball and gloat. As a friend, a whole day together is a treasure. As a baseball fan, though, I barely watch the game. There is almost too much excitement to focus.

This year’s Opening Day for the Rockies was especially fun. The weather was amazing. Our favorite players hit well. The Rockies won. But what stood out for me, and what I wrote about, was something that happened before the first up-at-bat. Something that unsettled the crowd…

What Baseball Fans Really Want

We are Rockies fans. My boys learned their numbers by memorizing which number went with which Rockies player. My youngest went to the World Series when the Rockies made it in 2007, and he was only two weeks old. We must have twenty different Rockies caps lying around the house, stashed in closets, or carried in backpacks. And we went to our first game of the season last weekend.

The Rockies are not looking that good in 2012.

But when #17 Todd Helton, who started his MLB career in 1997 with the Rockies – and has never left – came to the plate with the bases loaded and the Rockies down by three, the crowd went wild. And when he hit a pinch-hit grand slam to tie the game in the eighth inning, we went absolutely crazy. High fives, jumping up and down, screaming his name, we stayed on our feet until Todd came back out of the dug-out and raised his hat to us.

Then….and here’s the problem…. it got quiet for a while. The players who came to bat after are mostly new to the team. We don’t know them like we know Todd. The team has traded away so many of our favorites since Rocktober less than five years ago: Matt Holliday, Kazuo Matsui, Willy Taveras, Yorvit Torrealba, Brad Hawpe, Seth “Late Night” Smith, Garret Atkins, Ryan “Spilly” Spilborghs, Jamey Carroll, Chris Iannetta, Ubaldo Jimenez, Jeff Francis and more.

Last weekend, we would of stayed on our feet if any one of them had followed Helton to the plate. We would forgive them for a bad game, a temporary bad attitude, or even a lame season, because they are our guys, our Rockies, our summertime Colorado extended family.

I feel sorry for new guys and the hush they hear that falls over the park when it is their turn to shine. Fans come to the ballpark because we want to connect. We want to believe that the players who play like heroes on the field are playing for us – their town. We want to feel as if we know the batter as he faces down the enemy pitcher. We want to feel the shortstop’s pain after an amazing dive catch. We want it to be our team that goes all the way – not an ever-changing mix of faces that call themselves Rockies for a year or two, and then move away.

Thank you for playing and staying, Todd. I hope the League eventually figures out a way to give the fans what they really want…more players like you.