Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Four-Fifths of a Grand Junction

First pitch, through the net, at Grand Junction, 8/9/15
These trips are conditioned by luck in countless ways. The team schedules have to work right. Our schedules at work have to cooperate. The weather has to be nice, or at least nonfatal to playing baseball on the day we pass through. We have to make it to each stadium on time. And so on.

We're finally on the trip that I don't think we were ever sure we would take—seeing all the Montana teams—and stop number one is the team we have long said would be the hardest to get to: the Grand Junction Rockies. Astute geographers will note that Grand Junction is not one of the Montana teams. Indeed, it's a good (and it was good) 600 miles from Billings. Still, when in the West....

Luck has been with us in multiple ways already on this trip. I know there's little more boring than a story about interactions with an airline ("Hey, let me tell you about the time I went to traffic court!"), but in this case we profited greatly from the experience. Rob flew from New York to Denver, and I flew from Chicago. We met on the B concourse about 45 minutes before our flight to Grand Junction was scheduled. For reasons we'll never know, our flight was so painfully overbooked that by the time all was said and done, we each had $800 in travel credit, and all we had to do was sit in the Denver airport for another four hours. This is a job I could happily do on a regular basis.

How we spent our time
The upshot was that we landed in Grand Junction far closer to game time than anticipated, but we made it to Suplizio Field with time to spare. We did, of course, see the Rockies' previous incarnation as the Casper Ghosts in 2009, and we assumed that Grand Junction had offered a new stadium and whatnot when they lured that team here in 2012. What we found, though, was a somewhat clumsy complex in which the baseball stadium shares much of its infrastructure with the Colorado Mesa University football field. Casper was arguably the worst stadium we've ever been to (yes, even worse than you, Beloit), so it's sort of depressing that the franchise couldn't arrange for better in the move.

Backstage in the Pioneer League
The game itself was a laugher, with the Missoula Osprey jumping out to a 9–0 lead after two. Eventually the score was 12–2, and in a sense that was the final. The Rockies did score four in the bottom of the ninth, but that was more due to the Ospreys' desire to get on the bus than anything else.

We typically see scouts, cross-checkers, and the like at games. Not here. After the conventional major-league trade deadline passes, it's pretty hard to get prospects through on deals. August waiver deals tend to involve bloated contracts, not starving wannabes on the bus to Orem (where, incidentally, Missoula lost 11–3 the next day). And sending someone all the way out to Grand Junction can't possibly be worth it by this stage in the season.

Wait till next year
We got lucky on Day 1 of an epic trip. I can't say the same for the Grand Junction Rockies.

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