Vajentic Family Western Odyssey: Week 5, Day 29 (Saturday, August 10)

When putting together our itinerary, and researching how and when I would get from San Jose back to Kansas City, I discovered that the Pirates would be playing in Denver during the weekend of my return.  So, I figured, why not?!  I might as well fly through Denver on the way home, stay a few nights and catch a few games as a nice way to wrap up my sabbatical.

For some reason, I could not sleep on Friday night/Saturday morning.  I had to be on the shuttle from the Hilton Garden Inn to the airport at 4:30 AM, so around 3 AM I decided that it would probably be less risky to just stay up instead of going to sleep.  I knew I would be tired, but the ballgame in Denver didn't start until Saturday night, so I would have time to take a nap.  I lugged my bags down to the shuttle around 4:15 AM.  Some guy noticed my statistics book that I had bought from the Stanford University bookstore, and he suggested to me that we all have a lot to learn about Baysian statistics.  Interesting discussion topic for the early morning hours!  I tipped that shuttle guy $10 when he dropped me off at the airport, checked my bags and settled in to await the boarding call.  The flight was not long, and I arrived in Denver at around 10 AM.  I think carrying my overloaded luggage throughout the huge Denver airport aggravated my ankle injury, because it started to hurt even more than it had been.  I found a taxi, and paid $75 to get from the airport to the Tabor Westin in downtown Denver.  The Westin is a nice, swanky hotel in the heart of Downtown Denver that I had heard the Pirates stayed at while playing the Rockies.  In line with my 'you only live once' attitude of this trip, I booked a nice mountain-view room.  After checking in and taking my bags to my room, I headed out to find some lunch.  I ate at a bar and grill around the corner of the hotel.  While eating on the patio, I think I saw Pirates pitcher Jared Hughes walk by with a lady.  I finished eating and headed back to my room for some much needed rest.  As I was waiting for the elevator, I saw former Pirates pitcher and current broadcaster Bob Walk coming into the hotel.  I wanted to say hello, but I was too shy.  I slept all afternoon, finally getting up around 5 PM, when it was time to walk to Coors Field, which was about 5 or 6 blocks from the hotel.  I was impressed with Coors Field.  It's a relatively new ballpark in the mold of PNC Park.
Right outside of Coors Field
 I only wish that the seating offered a better view of the mountains to the west of Denver.  I settled into my seat and started to take many pictures of the Pirates warming up, and the stadium in general.  Just before game time, a storm rolled in, and the game ended up being delayed by 1.5 hours.  I used the delay time to walk around and explore the stadium, and take some more pictures.  There were a lot of Pirates fans at the game.  I had an excellent seat, right by third base, about 10 rows up into the stands.  There was a guy sitting next to me that used to live near Pittsburgh, so it was fun chatting with him.  The weather was beautiful once the rain stopped, and I enjoyed some ballpark food and a nice, cold beer.  Unfortunately, the game itself did not go well.  Although the Pirates got out to a lead, they were unable to hold it, and ended up losing 6-4, with Pedro Alvarez and Andrew McCutchen both striking out in the top of the ninth with men on base.  Clint Hurdle got thrown out of the game by the second base umpire for arguing a double-play in the later innings.

Hurdle getting tossed....

So, the loss stunk, but I still had a good experience at the game.  

When I got back to the hotel, I hung out in the lobby for a little while to see if I could catch a glimpse of any of the players.  Indeed, I believe I saw Gaby Sanchez walk in.  Then for sure, I saw Pedro Alvarez and Neil Walker walk in together around 11:00 PM.  I also saw Andrew McCutchen riding the escalator from a distance.  I felt a little giddy and silly for being such a star-struck 40-year old baseball fan.  Still, it was a neat experience.  I went to the hotel bar to have a beer, and then headed up to my room.  As luck would have it, while I waited for the elevator, Pirates manager Clint Hurdle and pitching coach Ray Searage walked up at the same time around 11:30 PM.  Clint Hurdle actually initiated conversation with me!  In a jolly voice, he asked me how I was doing, and what my name was, as I got onto the elevator with them.  I thanked him for the turn-around he had initiated for the Pirates.  He introduced Ray Searage, and apologized for not being able to "bring home a win."  I told him to get them tomorrow, and that I would be at the game.  This was just such a cool experience, and I was super impressed by how personable and friendly Hurdle was, especially after a tough loss in a game in which he was ejected.  I only interacted with him for about 45 seconds, but I was so happy to be able to shake his hand and thank him as a lifelong Pirates fan.  As I got back to my room, I really wondered what it must be like for these players and coaches to be on the road so often.  They get to stay at fancy hotels like this one, but wouldn't they get tired of travelling?  I was tired of travelling after only 30 days!

I was hungry, so I ordered some pizza and pot stickers from room service, and ordered the movie 'The Great Gatsby', which I watched from 12:30-2:00 AM.

Fountains!  Just like Kansas City.

El Toro at bat


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