Lord knows how we've tried to get a major league baseball franchise here in Denver. We've sent committees to all the owners' meetings. We've made up T-shirts. We've bought lunch. We've been waiting forever, and still we've got nothing but Triple Damn A ball. We're left with no alternative. The time has come for—you guessed it—veiled threats.
And so here are 10 reasons why you, Mr. Peter Ueberroth, commissioner of baseball, had better bring a major league team to Denver soon or hire yourself a food taster (not to be pushy or anything):
•Convenience. Ballplayers are always flying over Denver anyway. Might as well stop and play a game during the trip. By the time the game's over, their luggage will have arrived.
•"Viable working relationship." That was in your criteria for expansion, Mr. Pete, and some of us didn't understand it. But let me tell you, if it means, Will the boys in city hall let some owner come in and ramrod them with a lot of sweet lease agreements and outrageous concessions, you can bet your last dab of Bryl-creem they will.
•The fans. Every year for the last seven years at least 45,000 fans have shown up for at least one minor league game in Denver. Minor league, Mr. Pete! When the Cubs and the Mariners played an exhibition series here two years ago, 77,000 came over two days. Do you have any idea how long it takes the Mariners to draw 77,000 at home? More than 56,000 people turned out for an Old-Timers' Game, for the love of Manny Mota. The local NFL outlet here has sold out 125 straight home games. More than 60,000 people showed up to send the Broncos off to the Super Bowl. Mr. Pete, anytime you have a flight to catch, we will do the same for you.
•The big tease. Denver deserves a team just out of mercy. Do you know how many times we've been told a major league team had the vans packed and pointed in our direction? There have been the the Giants, the A's, the Pirates, the Pilots (Seattle), the Indians, the White Sox and the Mariners (Seattle, again). If you're counting, sir, that's two teams for Seattle and zip for us. Seven times Denver has been standing in 102° heat at the end of a very long line only to get to the front and have the guy tell our town the keg just ran dry.
•Righting a geographical wrong. You put Denver in the National League West and you can finally kick Atlanta the hell over to the NL East, where it belongs. Make this change and schoolteachers across the nation will light candles in your honor. After all, how can they explain to the kids that when the Chicago Cubs, who are in the NL East, fly to Atlanta to play in the NL West, the players have to set their watches an hour ahead? No wonder Pascual Perez was always late.
•Taters, dingers, souvenirs, etc. You ever hit a golf ball here? The pros say it goes 7% farther than at sea level. This gives the fans their hoots, and fans who get their hoots keep showing up with more framed pictures of presidents.
•Forget the cold weather. People see one lousy snowstorm in Denver on Monday Night Football (Broncos versus Packers in 1984), and they think Dr. Zhivago grew up here. There was the exhibition game between the Yankees and the Blue Jays that was snowed out in 1984, but big whoop. In 1982 the cold led to the cancellation of season openers in Chicago, Philadelphia, Detroit, Milwaukee and Pittsburgh. At least when you snow-out in Denver, Vail is only an hour and a half away.
•Doing what's right. This ain't no jerkwater town. We got museums. We got a symphony. We got smog. Hey, we're the 19th-biggest television market in the country. So how come the 19th market in the country is the home of the farm team for Milwaukee, the 30th TV market? Go figure it.
•Tradition. Denver isn't a baseball town, baseball snobs say. Doesn't anybody remember the 1955 Little Yankees? Marv Throneberry at first (he was great then), Bobby Richardson at second, Whitey Herzog in the outfield, Ralph Terry and Don Larsen pitching, and Ralph Houk managing. History, schmistory. Denver has had baseball for more than 100 years. Hell, we don't even need a whole bunch of big leaguers shipped here. We'll just take some of the guys who have played here over the years: Graig Nettles, J.R. Richard, Eric Davis, Kal Daniels, Tim Wallach, Tim Raines, Andre Dawson, Barry Larkin et al.
•Dave Flaming. Mr. Flaming, a Mile High Stadium peanut vendor, took all the furniture out of his house, built bleachers inside his living room and had 150 guests over to watch Game 2 of the 1986 World Series. Then he moved to upstate New York. Please give Denver major league baseball so he can come back.