It’s time for one of the CJS HIgh Holidays: MLB Opening Day.Tomorrow we’ll be at the park with a beer in hand, cracking peanut shells and enjoying the greatest game on earth as it shepherds in the summer months. Around these parts, a new season not only brings a fresh sense of hope, but also a new batch of Rockies commercials. So let’s roll in the new season with the delightfully offbeat humor of the Rockies’ amazingly successful marketing efforts.

In the summer of 2005, Hart and I were living together in Fort Collins. We were preparing to move into our own place away from this mountain biking choad neither of us liked who had taken Senor Limon’s place after he graduated. I had been dating Lady E for about nine months, and it was at her place two blocks away that we found ourselves for the 4th of July.

That day would see the Rockies lose to the Dodgers 4-3 in 11 innings bringing their record to a dreadful 28-53. I did not watch this game. After at least a half dozen beers, and while Lady E and some of her lady friends left temporarily to buy cigarettes and probably more beer, I drunkenly and loudly laid out my plan to improve the Rockies to an otherwise trapped Lee S. Hart. I talked about how ultimately the team needed to play the same game at home as they did on the road, which meant building a team around groundball pitchers, a speedy centerfielder, and players who could hit from gap to gap. I’d just like to point out that I was right about all of this despite my extreme intoxication and thuggish belligerence.

And then I came to my last point. Gesturing wildly with what I’m relatively certain was a Henry Weinhard’s Private Reserve in one hand, and a Camel Turkish Silver in the other, I slurred the following to Hart: “And most importantly, they need to fucking market this team! The media calls them ‘Todd and the Toddlers’ which is awful. If no one knows the players, then no one cares. And if no one cares, no one goes. And if no one goes, there’s no money to sign elite players. The Blake Street Bombers are dead. This team needs to reinvent itself!” Little did I know, I’d be right about this too.

After an abysmal 2005, the Rockies actually showed signs of life in 2006. They were a game over .500 at the All-Star Break, and despite a miserable post-break skid they never recovered from, they bettered themselves by nine games by the end of the season. These two kids they had named Holliday and Atkins absolutely raked that season, the rotation was surprisingly not terrible with Francis, Cook, Jennings, Fogg, and BK Kim, and Fuentes anchored a serviceable bullpen. Additionally, the Rox drafted Tulo in 2005, got out from under Charles Johnson and Preston Wilson, took a chance on breathing life into a seemingly washed-up Kaz Matsui, and then astutely sold high on Jason Jennings for Willy Taveras (their much needed speedy centerfielder), and two above-average pitchers.

The pieces were there for the Rox to break through, now all they needed was an identity. So finally the Colorado Rockies’ front office psychically received the drunken message I sent them in 2005 about their need to market the team, and a series of new, charming, slightly off-kilter commercials aired spotlighting the team’s new identity: Generation R.

The playful sensibility and unique approach to showing off the players worked wonders for the Rockies as attendance rose, my friends talked with actual excitement about the Rockies again, and each subsequent year, people looked forward to the new batch of commercials. It didn’t hurt that the Rox went to the World Series in 2007, but I like to think the commercials put the team and the fans in the correct state of mind to do so.

With that in mind, here are my picks for the best Rockies commercials of each year. We’ll start at the beginning and work our way forward.

2007

Fuentes Saves

Having a good closer is like finding a good mechanic. You do your best to hold onto them and hope the rest of the world doesn’t catch on. Fuentes was a great closer for us for a great many years (our only All-Star in 2005, then our only other one besides Holliday in ’06 and ’07), and this commercial is a clever play on “saves.” Fuentes clips coupons (save money!), he rescues a cat from a tree for a pair of young girls (save kitties!), he prevents Dinger from choking on a head of lettuce (save ridiculous dinosaur mascots!), and he prevents Yorvit Torrealba from drowning high atop his lifeguard chair. It was this commercial that endeared me to this new marketing effort, and the offbeat juxtaposition of a couple of young girls saying gently “Thank you, Mr. Fuentes” with our closer helping a giant anthropomorphic cartoon dinosaur clear his blocked windpipe after eating too fast just won me over. Still love this commercial.

Honorable Mention:

The Humidor

Whereas the Fuentes commercial was the first one of these I ever loved, “The Humidor” was the first I ever saw. And it’s not bad! Cook and Francis sit in the Rockies’ humidor appraising baseballs like they’re cigars – “Ooh, smokin’ fastball!” “Aw, sweet changeup” – until they get to a hanging curveball, which they toss into the Visitors’ bag of balls. This commercial takes on an added level of humor after the accusations of doctoring baseballs from the buttfucking Giants from last season. God I can’t wait for the season to start so we can kick the shit out of those trolley-riding assclowns.

2008

In the Playoffs

It seems almost quaint now – all the controversy over whether or not Matt Holliday touched the plate in Game 163 against the Padres – but, the issue loomed all throughout the 2007 post-season and got passing mentions in every Rockies preview that Spring. That’s why I love this commercial. Two themes dominate here: 1) Team solidarity. After Holliday walks by a plate with a jelly-filled pastry on it, we wonder if he touched it. Clint Hurdle strongly asserts, “Oh yeah, you touched it, Matty. We all saw it. Didn’t we, men?” Yes we did, Clint. Yes we did. 2) Holliday’s declaration that “Yeah, I touched it. Get over it,” with a scuff on his chin pretty much shuts down the argument because fuck you, San Diego, the call was “safe” and we went to the World Series. So shut up.

Honorable Mentions:

Tulo Chants

Clap. Clap. Clap-clap-clap. Clap-clap-clap-clap. Clap-clap. Tu-LO!

That’s pretty much all I hear during the offseason too. Thank God baseball is back! Also, Tu-LO!

Dodgeball

Here’s the draft order from team captains Aaron Cook and Jeff Francis in this commercial: 1. Brian Fuentes, 2. Manuel Corpas, 3. Chris Iannetta, 4. Jason Hirsh, 5. Garrett Atkins (He says “Attie” or “Addie” and this is my best guess as to who this mystery man with a fake mustache is. I spent 15 minutes trying to figure this out), 6. Ubaldo Jimenez, 7. Dinger, 8. Spilly in a goofy wig.

What’s the funniest thing about this commercial? A) Ubaldo Jimenez gets picked third from last in a game of dodgeball; B) That he gets picked behind both Manny Corpas and Jason Hirsh; C) Spilly’s enthusiastic jumping and whooping; D) Dinger gets hit with a wrench. While they’re all funny in their own way, history has rendered B by far and away the most unintentionally hilarious thing here.

2009

Players Adjust

And this is officially the last performance of Garrett Atkins I ever enjoyed. His hammering of a nail into the drywall with his baseball bat and then carefully checking his work despite the giant gash he’s just put into it is very subtle and humorous. His constant taking of called third strikes and bouncing into easy doubles plays in 2009 was not. It was more like sad and enraging. Special mention also goes to Aaron Cook for shaking off chore instructions from his wife in this commercial.

Honorable Mentions:

Endorsement

Only here for one line, and those of you who know this commercial already know what it is. It comes from Ubaldo Jimenez. “If YOU bald-o, try Hair Be There!” This commercial is the reason Lady E and I still over-pronounce Ubaldo. This charming play on his name combined with his somewhat dopey grin and that pile of white shit on his head is just so impossibly endearing, it’s hard not to just enjoy the hell out of this commercial.

Wedding

The man playing the groom? Yep, that’s Rockies Public Address Announcer Reed Saunders. When I was working for the PR firm, I hired Reed to emcee an event for one of my clients and got to take him to lunch on the client’s dime. We spent most of that lunch drinking Herman Joseph, bullshitting about a mutual friend’s 21st birthday party we both attended nearly 10 years ago, and talking about his awesome PA job. When I asked him how it felt to get smacked on the ass by Tulo in this commercial, I believe his exact response was “Kind of exciting, not gonna lie.” And I’m not gonna lie, I kind of wish Tulo would smack me on the ass. Judge all you want, I don’t care. Tulo’s awesome.

2010

Junior and Senior

What’s not to love here? You’ve got the guy who popped a Rockies crowd bigger than anyone in history acting as the overbearing, but lovable father to his son, hot prospect Eric Young, Jr. These two hit all the right notes in this commercial, and it earns an easy laugh from me every time. The scene stealer here, however, is Dexter Fowler who has a gigantic grin on his face and looks like he ruined many a take while Senior cuts Junior’s steak. Playful and fun.

Honorable Mentions:

Lost in Translation

Iannetta’s grinning like an idiot wins the day here as he offers a few Spanish malapropisms. Rest assured, if Lady E and I have children, you can bet your ass dialogue from this commercial is the way we’ll announce it. I’ll ask my friends for soup in Spanish, then confuse “embarrassed” with “pregnant” only I won’t, and that’ll be how I tell everyone we’re pregnant. Because that’s how you should share with everyone one of the most momentous events in your life – through repeated dialogue from a regional television commercial of a baseball team. Big moments deserve nothing less.

Translation Please

Steely-eyed veteran Todd Helton stands stone-faced and unfazed by CarGo’s motormouth Spanish. He’s then able to pinpoint exactly what Carlos needs while everyone else stands mouth agape without a clue. That’s why Todd’s the man. And his deadpan is totally underrated.

2011

Lucky Couple 

Whoever this actor is who says “Every time the wife gets a-pregnont”  deserves his own sitcom. Seriously, I’ve watched this commercial somewhere between 25 and 4,000 times over the last two weeks, and it never fails to get a laugh from me. In watching “Rockies All Access,” a Rockies communications rep said they were going for a “Modern Family” vibe here, and amazingly enough, they succeed. Framing, tone, and delivery all have that distinct “Modern Family” vibe. Well done. What elevates this commercial to legendary is that the cat is named Galarraga. Awesome.

Honorable Mentions:

Is It April Yet? Start Practicing Your Handshakes

I didn’t need the television to ask me if I missed baseball. Of course I missed baseball. But in a totally weird way, this slow-mo video of Spilly and CarGo doing the goofiest handshake of all-time (seen in part in the lead photo of this article) took that longing to an entirely different plane of existence. Is it April yet? Fuck, that question has never been so central in my brain.

Metal Detector

Tulo’s got new hardware that’s keeping him from going cleanly through the metal detector at the airport, namely a Gold Glove and a Silver Slugger. Cute. But then there’s savvy veteran Todd Helton who’s already got his 4 Silver Sluggers and 3 Gold Gloves already loaded onto the conveyor belt like a pro. Translation: This team fucking owns it. I can’t wait for this year.

And in case you were unaware, or have forgotten 1600 words or so ago, Opening Day is tomorrow. You hear me? Tomorrow! CJS will be down in LoDo celebrating the High Holiday. So send us a message, meet up with us and let’s play some fucking baseball!

Go Rockies!

edagger@crujonessociety.com