Peyton Manning is figuring out what Coloradans have known for 17 years: when it comes to summer recreation in the Mile High City, you’re hard pressed to find a better venue than Coors Field. Whether it’s the modern-classic ballpark atmosphere, the simply perfect weather, or the LoDo Magic, Manning knows where to be found on a summer day in Denver.
Manning’s presence is certainly paying dividends for his college buddy Todd Helton. Helton had an RBI single in Sunday’s game that put the Colorado Rockies up 2-0 over the Los Angeles Dodgers, the team with the best record in baseball. The Rockies would go on to win 3-2 to wrap up a 6-1 homestand and revive a season left for dead.
The last time Manning was spotted in the crowd, Helton entered the game against the New York Mets with the bases loaded and two out against lefty specialist Tim Byrdak. The results were vintage Helton, and something fans of the Rockies (and last year, the Denver Broncos) are used to. An eight inning, pinch hit, grand slam that knotted the game at 4.
Two games, 2 hits, 5 RBI, and 3 walks for Helton when Manning is in attendance. Not a terrible show to witness.
Perhaps you’re a baseball and football fan who gets to enjoy the nuances of each game virtually year round, or maybe you’re a Broncos fan who simply has to endure baseball to get your sports fix until the headlining Broncos begin play in September. Regardless of your loyalty to the black and purple, Rockies baseball remains on the short list of ways to stay busy during the Broncos’ offseason, just like Peyton Manning.
If you are simply looking for reasons to bridge the gap between the Super Bowl and the season kickoff, here are a couple to consider:
- 14ers: The quintessential Colorado experience. Person favorites are Mount Yale and Huron Peak.
- Becoming a Vesuvius kind of Jets fan: You know, the volcano lies mostly dormant but when it erupts it’s a global catastrophe? Okay, so maybe this is a bit of a stretch. But don’t tell me you’re not still a little obsessed with Number 15 and will probably be rooting for his Jets just a little when CBS cuts away from another Denver Broncos blowout.
- Training Camp: Is there are better way to play hookey on an August day than to go to one of the better fan experiences in all of sports? Seriously. Go! Autographs, photographs, and seeing the 2012 Denver Broncos prepare for another season.
- Preseason game on August 9 at Chicago Bears: Three reasons to watch this one are Jay Cutler, Brandon Marshall, and, oh yeah, the first football of any kind in eight months.
- Preseason game on August 18 vs. Seattle Seahawks: Sure it’s preseason, but it’s football in the summer! Yes, football weather is a driving snow, but you can’t tell me you don’t enjoy it in your flip-flops as well.
- Preseason game on August 26 vs. San Francisco 49ers: See above
- Preseason game on August 30 at Arizona Cardinals: The Broncos have played the Arizona Cardinals so many time during the preseason, the game really needs its own name. Perhaps “The Second-Team Hasn’t Even Been In Since The First Quarter But It’s Football And I Can’t Stop Watching Bowl?” That’s a tough one to market.
- Seeing a young receiving corps grow up: The Broncos have a group of young receivers, specifically Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker, who will be fun to watch under the leadership of Manning.
- Seeing a young offensive line grow up: This group started 16 consecutive game together during the regular season and spearheaded the Broncos to one of the most potent running attacks in the league. They’re a year more seasoned, and their current quarterback has the release time equivalent to a lightning strike.
- Knowing that Merril Hoge’s sage opinion won’t be directed at your guy: Enough said.
- Your fantasy football draft: Fantasy football is best during your league’s draft. You actually feel like you’re using your genetic General Manager skills, you aren’t fully relying on luck at this point, and you still have your 50 dolla-…er…I mean…pride. You still have your pride.
- The Arrival of Autumn beers: Hoptober, Tumbler, Samuel Adams Octoberfest, and pretty much anything infused with pumpkin.
- Training for Fall marathons: If you’re into that sort of thing.
- The obligatory Matt Prater 70-yard field goal attempt: During the preseason games, the air cools after sundown and causes the ball to carry exceptionally well. Oh, that and the altitude. Prater will probably one day get called on to try to break the NFL record of 63-yards in a regular season game, but in the mean time he’ll be tasked with trying to boom one during the preseason. Perhaps for no other reason than fan excitement.
- Orange!: Orange is back! Orange is back! It just feels right.
- So You Think You Can Dance: Full disclosure – I can’t stop watching this show. It isn’t even because my wife makes me watch it. This is all on me.
- September 9: The Pittsburgh Steelers have been looking forward to this match up for months. And so have we. It’ll be here sooner than you think!
Remember, the arrival of June means that football activities ramp up next month. Continue repeating it to yourself as much as necessary.