Friday night, when the Rockies host San Diego in the 2020 home opener at Coors Field, LoDo magic could strike. You just never know with baseball.
And, although the Rockies are off to a surprising 4-1 start, there will be no fans in the stands to enhance the moment. The coronavirus pandemic has seen to that. There will be no single-somethings drinking beers on the party deck and no dedicated fans keeping score from their prime seats behind the Rockies’ dugouts.
But Kent Krosbakken and his crew will be doing their best to make Coors Field come alive with music and piped-in crowd noise.
“Our goal is to make it as realistic as we can,” said Krosbakken, Rockies senior director of in-game entertainment and broadcasting. “Obviously that’s going to be really hard with no fans in the stands, but our goal is to, No. 1, energize the players and give them that Coors Field home-field advantage.”
But Krosbakken’s crew also will strive to produce a baseball atmosphere for fans watching on television.
“The sound is for inside the stadium, yes, but overall it’s more important for the TV broadcast,” he said. “So we will have somebody downstairs, monitoring the game on TV and letting us know, ‘Hey that sounds good, or ‘Let’s boost up the noise’ or ‘Let’s bring it down.’ We want to make sure it’s right, not too annoying for the players.”
Walk-up songs will be played, most importantly Charlie Blackmon’s anthem “Your Love” by The Outfield, in which the fans chime in with the collective ending chorus of “I don’t want to lose your love, TONIGHT!”
“We’re going to give that a shot,” Krosbakken. “We’ve taken a recording from last year and we are going to see if we get it synced up to where the fans are singing ‘Tonight!’ at the appropriate time.”
Added Blackmon, “That sounds cool, but you can’t replace a true Denver crowd.”
The Rockies will try — sort of — with cardboard images in the stands.
The team has created cutouts of more than 80 former players that will sit in some of the seats behind home plate. The alumni cutouts, featuring former stars such as Larry Walker, Todd Helton and Andres Galarraga, will be auctioned off after the season with proceeds going to the Rockies Foundation.
Prior to the first pitch, toward the end of the national anthem, four F-16 fighter jets will fly over Coors Field and fireworks will be shot off as the players take the field.
“We are trying to make it as normal as possible for opening day, but also let everyone who is in the downtown area at 6:10 p.m. know that the Rockies are home and playing ball,” Krosbakken said.
Big crowds have always been a huge part of Rockies baseball. In the Rockies’ first home game in franchise history, a record 80,227 fans showed up at the old Mile High Stadium.
On June 18, 2017, a Father’s Day crowd of 48,341 at Coors Field watched Nolan Arenado complete the cycle by hitting a walk-off home run in the Rockies’ 7-5 victory over the San Francisco Giants.
Moments later, his face and jersey bloodied from a cut suffered in the wild celebration at home plate, Arenado exhorted the delirious crowd to get even louder.
“I do miss the fans and I miss the energy from them,” Arenado said. “I miss the fans at away games, too. It’s been a little bit weird, but it’s better than not playing at all, so I’m having a good time.”
Manager Bud Black said that the new baseball normal is taking some getting used to.
“Everything is different,” he said. “You are so used to the ballpark sounding a certain way and now it just doesn’t. That’s the thing that stands out for me and I think for all of us.”
Black said he especially noticed the absence of fans Saturday night in Texas when Rockies relievers ran into late-game trouble.
“They were putting pressure on our bullpen, each and every inning, late in the game, and those are the moments where you usually hear the crowd, you can really feel the crowd,” Black said. “When it’s absent, it’s noticeable. Sometimes it affects a player negatively and a lot of times it affects a player positively when they’re on that big stage. You just never know.”
Pitcher Jon Gray, who’s scheduled to start Friday’s home opener, misses the energy fans provide but said the Rockies are creating their own vibe.
“That first game? It was a little weird,” Gray said, referring to Colorado’s opening-day loss to the Texas Rangers last Friday at the new Globe Life Field in Arlington. “It wasn’t completely dead, but there wasn’t a ton of energy either.
“But then again, I like our team. I think we have done a really good job of keeping positive energy in the dugout. We’re staying fired up and on top of our game. I think that is going to carry us a long way.”
Black added that the longer the season goes on, the more normal the empty stands will feel.
“What’s unique about this, and different, is that we are getting used to this,” he said. “We are getting used to it quickly. It’s becoming our present norm.
“It just goes to show you that, as professionals, players can adjust to something quickly and respond. To me, that’s something that has been truly apparent. I don’t hear players commenting about no fans. I don’t hear players really saying one thing or another about it, which shows me their focus is on playing baseball.”
Source: Read Full Article