DENVER — Next time the MLB All-Star Game comes to this great American city, the No. 48 Rockies jersey worn by Germán Márquez, with pride, will be retired up on the right-field wall.
Do not let that gem of a man and starting pitcher skip town like Nolan, D.J. or Trevor Story.
Tuesday night at Coors Field, 49,184 kids and romantics piled into Coors Field, and by the sixth inning wished they had brought a fleece. On a perfect evening for baseball, happy hour, a PMD hatch or free concert in City Park, the game honored Hank Aaron. His No. 44 was in right field. The only thing wrong with this game is that it should have stayed in Atlanta, where Aaron set the home-run record in 1974 and is seriously beloved. At Coors he got a video tribute that probably played better on TV.
Everything else was as perfect as Friday, April 9, 1993 — the day "EY" Sr., Dante Bichette, “Big Cat” and the late Don Baylor welcomed Colorado and LoDo to the big leagues.
“It seems like it’s been forever but at the same time (it feels) like yesterday,” said Bichette, whose 23-year-old son, Bo Bichette, made his All-Star debut as a shortstop for the Toronto Blue Jays.
The American League beat the National League 5-2. Toronto slugger Vlad Guerrero Jr. earned MVP. He bombed an 89-mph slider into the left-field bleachers — 468 feet from home plate.
“Dad, this is for you,” Junior said after.
Next time the All-Star Game comes to Colorado, Vlad Jr. could be a 20-time participant. He’s 22.
The moment of the perfect night arrived in the fourth inning. Germán Márquez arrived, for real, in the fourth inning. After he was told to remove the white Spandex sleeve from his pitching arm, the 26-year-old Venezuelan received a standing ovation from the equally proud home crowd.
Marquez was able to secure travel visas that allowed his wife, Dilvanny and son Damian to attend his All-Star debut, according to The Gazette's Danielle Allentuck. He is the rarest of Rockies, a no-doubt staff ace and their finest starting pitcher since 2010 Cy Young candidate Ubaldo Jimenez. Marquez also caught the ceremonial first pitch — from Peyton Manning, who was joined on the mound by Todd Helton.
Next time Arch Manning could be the ex-Broncos quarterback who throws out the first pitch.
“I’m not going to lie. I was nervous” said Marquez, the lone All-Star from the Rockies, of catching Peyton’s pitch. It bounced in the dirt.
Denver has problems, but Denver knows how to party. Shohei Ohtani, the All-Star of the week and the future, smashed one to the Party Deck during batting practice for Monday's electric Home Run Derby — 510 feet.
So, what’s next? Always nice to have something fun on the calendar.
Next Time the major sports event in Denver could be a Stanley Cup final with the Colorado Avalanche. They are betting favorites to win the Stanley Cup in 2021-22. Or it could be a PGA Tour stop at Castle Pines. Was the BMW Championship at Cherry Hills already seven years ago? Or the NFL Draft — at Red Rocks, in 2024, since the Chiefs and Raiders get the next two. Or it could be the FIFA World Cup in 2026. Denver’s a finalist. Should be a no-brainer.
“I love everything about this place,” Nolan Arenado said. Just not everyone, as it turns out.
The ovations ranked like this in terms of decibels: One, Marquez; Two, Arenado; Three, Bud Black; Four, Ohtani; Five, every time a batted ball jumped into and tested the thin air.
“It was a pretty amazing feeling,” Arenado said of the loud reception from the fans who adored his ascension to six-time All-Star. “One of the better things I’ve ever had in my life.”
Only three balls flew out of the park — the monster shot from Vlad Jr., one apiece from catchers Mike Zunino and J.T Realmuto. Sports books set the O/U on home runs at 3.5. Hmmm.
The Dodgers all got booed — Chris Taylor, Justin Turner, Walker Buehler. Always boo Dodgers.
Next time the All-Star Game comes to a mile high we need three-time NBA champion Nikola Jokic in the celebrity softball game.
Nuggets teammate Will “The Thrill” Barton told me: “’Jok’ would have this thing rockin’. I wouldn’t even have shown up. After winning the MVP, after the year he had, I can’t have him in my way right now. He’s too hot right now.”
Too hot right now. Too perfect. Marquez threw a 1-2-3 fourth inning. He needed 13 pitches and touched 97 mph on a trio of four-seam fastballs. He waved his cap as he strolled to the Rockies' dugout at Coors Field. Till next time.