5 Things GJ Rockies fans should do this summer
We’re all minor league veterans now, with a whole season under our belts watching the Grand Junction Rockies.
The games in between innings aren’t quite the surprise they were last summer, when surely more than one baseball purist was wondering why, after the first inning, is a kid standing in the first-base coaches box trying to toss a baseball through a hole in a board. And can someone explain exactly why hot dogs and condiment bottles are racing around the warning track in the middle of the game?
Minor league baseball is fan-participation baseball. It’s as much about the sideshows as it is the game.
So, get your hot dog and cold beer or soft drink, settle into your seat and let the season begin. And don’t forget your glove — you can keep what you catch, just don’t lean into the field of play or interfere with a player next to the stands.
Here are five things Grand Junction Rockies fans should do at least once this summer:
1. Watch Jon Gray pitch.
You want to see the future of the Colorado Rockies’ pitching staff? Make sure you show up when the Oklahoma fireballer pitches.
You witnessed a couple of highly regarded prospects last summer in Eddie Butler and Jayson Aquino. If they stay healthy and keep progressing, they’ll pitch at Coors Field someday. Scott Oberg is making his pitch to be the closer of the future.
Now it’s Gray’s turn.
He didn’t arrive in Grand Junction until Monday and won’t pitch for a couple of weeks. After throwing 126 innings at Oklahoma this season, the Rockies want to make sure his arm is fresh.
As soon as he was announced as the Rockies’ first-round pick (No. 3 overall), fans were asking where he’d start the season. Speculation was at one of the three Class A teams, most likely Asheville, N.C., or even Modesto, Calif., the Rockies’ Advanced A team. Some predicted he’d be in Double A Tulsa this season and ready for the bigs sometime in 2014.
That could still happen, even after the player development staff decided he would start in Rookie ball. Expect him to make a handful of starts for the GJ Rockies and then move up, likely to Asheville.
2. Cheer for the beer batter.
Each home game, the Rockies will choose one opposing player to be the “beer batter.” If he strikes out, anyone 21 and older can buy $2 draft beer for the next 10 minutes.
The beer batter is automatically a fan favorite, and if he fans his first time up, make sure to give him a hearty round of applause in his second at-bat, and maybe he’ll oblige with another K.
3. Predict each GJ Rockies’ future.
The Rockies will have a chart updating fans at the park of the 2012 GJ players’ progress. You can do the same with this year’s club. Take your roster, and say, at the halfway point of the season, July 30, mark down where you would assign each player next season. At the end of the season, Sept. 8, re-evaluate each player. This time next season, see how close you came once minor league assignments are made. The one in your group with the fewest correct buys the first round at the 2014 home opener.
4. Collect autographs and meet the players.
After each game, several players will sign autographs outside the GJ Rockies’ clubhouse.
Get yourself a program and start collecting autographs. You never know how much they’ll be worth someday.
If you get to games early, often the players will have a few minutes to talk. These are kids a long way from home, and they love meeting fans from Grand Junction.
5. Run the bases with Corky.
OK, this one is reserved only for the little kids.
But if you have a kid running the bases, make sure your phone is charged so you can get the video.
And yes, awwww at the little one who keeps running past second base into the outfield, or the one who stops at third base and sits down on the bag, but especially for the one who bursts into tears because there’s a lot of big kids out here and I’m scared of that big coyote ... where’s Daddy?