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The Wonder of Baseball

Baseball is a day at the ballpark, a dream for the young, a reason to fight, and more. It’s more than a game. What does baseball mean to you? 



It starts with a tee, a bat, and a helmet three sizes too large. It shapes into a common dream, held by millions, maybe billions, of youth across the globe: to become a major league ballplayer, just like Jackie Robinson. Just like Derek Jeter. Just like Todd Helton. Just like…

Ultimately, it blossoms into a romance. Sunflower seeds cause a painfully delight dry mouth, the sun beams down onto welcoming bodies, covered in shorts and tank tops, and the only sounds that matter are the CRACK of the bat, WHIZZ of the pitcher’s heater, and SMACK of the ball finding a home in leather.

Major League Baseball comes back with teasers from February through March, giving us a reminder of what is to come. It’s been long enough that we miss football, but are ready to embrace something different.

That ‘something different’ finally blooms in April, which brings on a new wonder and magic to the spring and summer months. Baseball season is an almost like an extended holiday season, for avid and casual fans alike.

Baseball means something different for everyone, but it connects us all. At some point, we’ve all played the game, been to a game, or at least learned how to throw a ball. It could mean a shot at a World Series title. It could mean adventures at the ballpark, united in team pride with friends and strangers. Or, it could mean the courage of a boy, mature and strong beyond his years, turning the game into something much bigger.

In the majors, it means 162 games of survival, hoping to fail at a rate only two or three times more than success every day. It’s striking out two times to hit a game-winning home run in September. It’s uniting a community, a city, a country, with a magical run to the World Series in October. It’s the goggles to protect your eyes from stray champagne in the locker room.

For Rockies fans, it’s another season of wonder. What will this season bring? New faces wearing the purple pinstripes, new breathtaking plays from Tulo and Arenado, new laser line-drives from CarGo. Will it be another fast start, rapid decline, like we’ve become accustomed to? Will we be swept up in the euphoric experience of another surprising playoff run?

At some point, it will be nothing less than exciting, even if only for the first day. A trip to Coors Field always brings about a wonderous feeling. The majestic beauty of the mountains in the distance, the flawless and masterful artistic preparation of the field, the fountain bursting after a homerun and a Rockies victory.

Though the season can’t be correctly predicted, one thing we do know is that summer days and summer nights can be best spent at the ballpark. A baseball game is more than a sporting event; it’s a social experience. Baseball gives an excuse to bond with friends, family, or total strangers over bad calls, towering homeruns, and highlight-reel catches.

The magic of the ballpark combines chatter with songs, dancing with shouting, and of course hot dogs and peanuts with beer (or $7 soda, if that’s more appropriate). It’s a chance to meet a new friend, maybe a chance to meet someone that will have a huge impact on your life. A romantic interest, a new lifelong friend, a new business connection.

It means something different for everyone, but it connects us all. It’s more than a game. It’s a chance for the high school ballplayer with cancer to have something to fight for. The dream, the one held by millions of kids, is still alive for him, despite certain limitations.

For him, it’s throwing out the first pitch at a sold-out playoff game, wearing your favorite player’s jersey, surrounded by thousands of your biggest fans that don’t even know you. It’s battling through treatment, surgery, a metal knee replacement, but keeping a passion and a dream for the game. It’s smacking a game-winning double in the state championship game with only one good leg. It’s about making your mark on the lives of others, becoming an inspiration to all. It’s about more than just a game, it’s about the power of good spirits, and the power of a dream. It’s the younger brother, with the support and strength from the family, carrying on the dream and the legacy, and signing on to playcollege baseball.

When the first pitch is thrown to signify the start of baseball season, it will carry a dream with it. In the Major Leagues, it will be a dream to be the best, to be the last team standing. At the stadium in Colorado, it will be the fans’ dream to have a World Series banner plastered on the green walls of majestic Coors Field. In youth leagues, it will be to one day throw that pitch, to hit that pitch, to be a hero.

The wonder and magic of baseball is upon us. It means something different for everyone, but it connects us all. What does it mean to you?

This story is dedicated to Nate Jurney, the inspiration behind many of these words, and his family- Mark, Sarah, David, Nicole, Daniel, and to everyone who has a dream. 

Top photo (koocbor / flickr)

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Denver’s Wes Watkins dynamic new future-funk EP is from another planet




Future-Funk Party Starter | Wes Watkins

Dreams Out from Denver’s best kept secret Wes Watkins wears so many musical hats it needs a rack; downtempo G-Funk homage and sweltering nee-Soul / Rn’B are all over this release, all covered with a thicc pop glaze and a penchant for electronic-sonic experimentation that keep every song fascinatingly adventurous while maintaining a danceability and groove that easily, easily warrants multiple listens. Don’t sleep on this one.

Lo-Fuzz Folkie | Hoi Ann

The beauty of Hoi Ann’s Tangenier lies in both what you can hear and what it may want you to not hear. Lo-fi folk and bedroom-pop are easily tangible on its surface, but the buzzy electronic tones that sparingly flourish the 5 songs of this release lie low and create a unique aural atmosphere for listeners, like hidden secrets for your ears only.

Indie-Punk Sweeties | Gestalt

The pop-punk shred-bois in Gestalt are back at it again; The irresistible combo of the Get Up Kids earnest midwestern-emo and smart pop-punk wit of the Wonder Years is strong on the tracks that encompass LongBoix, as is an acute fondness and growing appreciation for the finer indie rock of yesteryear. Well I guess this is growing up.

Psych-Rock Screamcore | Gone Full Heathen

On their criminally good self titled EP, Fort Collins heavies Gone Full Heathen friggin dare you to try and trap them in a single genre. Nice try, but they’ll just chew right through your puny ropes using a gnashing blend of crushing stoner-rock laced hardcore punk and overdriven psych-rock / post-metal induced bite like the righteous rock and roll wolves that they are.

All releases available for purchase now thru Bandcamp. Go Local!

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The Haze Craze for Lazy Days



There are many different styles of beer. Ranging from light lagers (think Bud Light) and ales to sours, stouts, and IPAs.

Within those styles, however, are varying styles.

For example, one would think a sour beer is a sour beer, right? Wrong. According to the Beer Judge Certification Program, which defines every style of beer, there are six recognized European sour styles.

For IPAs, there are seven. American beers have four; stouts have three… You get the point.

Even with viewing the list of recognized styles, it’s not a complete list.

Take New England IPAs (NE IPA), as a prime example. Many breweries are currently mass producing this style of beer, and it’s selling like crazy.

You may have heard one of your annoying beer loving friends talk about drinking a “juice bomb,” or a requesting a “hazy IPA” at the pub, and shrugged it off. It turns out, they (sometimes) know what they are talking about.

What makes NE IPAs so popular when compared to a more traditional, West Coast IPA? NE IPAs have all of the hop flavors, without an overabundance of bitterness.

Instead of constantly adding hops throughout the boil to achieve a fruity flavor balanced by bitterness, the NE IPA has a small hop addition at the begging, and then nothing else until after the boil has finished.

That translates into a beer with very little bitterness, and plenty of hop aroma and flavor. Hops like Citra, Mosaic, Mosaic, Galaxy, and El Dorado are most common in NE IPAs, according to the Homebrewers Association. Those hops tend to impart a fruity, and dare I say, juicy flavor profile.

Between the juicy flavor and the seemingly natural haziness to NE IPAs, it’s not far fetched for an NE IPA to look like a tall glass of orange or grapefruit juice, only carbonated and full of alcohol.

NE IPAs are starting to gain momentum here in Colorado, with breweries turning their focus to the haze craze. Specifically, Odd13, WeldWerks, and Epic Brewing coming to mind.

Odd13 is based in Lafayette, Colo. and has a long list of NE-inspired IPAs constantly rotating through the tap room and distributed throughout the state. Codename: Super fan and Noob are two beers that are found in cans, and both offer a different approach to the haze craze.

WeldWerks is based in Greeley, Colo. and has accumulated a cult-like following in just a few short years for its Juicy Bits NE IPA. The brewery just started self-distributing locally, so you’ll have to make the trip to the brewery and pick up a crowler or four. Be sure to check the WeldWerks Facebook page for availability and limits. Yes, they have to place per person limits on how much you can purchase.

Epic Brewing recently announced its NE IPA, which will rotate between four different flavor profiles throughout the year. The cans will look the same but will be different colors as a quick way to tell identify which version you have.

So the next time you walk into a brewery or liquor store, it’s OK to ask for a hazy or juicy IPA. It’s a thing, and, frankly, they are damn good.

On Tap: By the time this hits newsstands, ThunderZone Pizza & Taphouse will have opened on the CSU-P campus. Located at 2270 Rawlings Blvd., the ThunderZone features 32 taps, a carefully curated tap list, and is locally owned.

At the opening, the tap list includes tasty brews from the likes of Florence Brewing and Lost Highway.

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Senators upend GOP health care bill in true Trump style… Twitter



WASHINGTON — When Sens. Mike Lee and Jerry Moran decided they were in ready to disrupt the GOP rewrite of the health care law, they chose President Donald Trump’s favorite medium.

They could not support Senate Republicans’ plan, the somewhat unlikely pair of conservatives tweeted at 8:30 p.m. Monday night, giving no heads up to the White House or Senate leaders before pressing send.

The story behind the statement reveals two senators willing to be branded as bill killers and seemingly unconcerned with trying to soften the blow with party leaders.

The announcement, coming after some 10 days of conversations between the men, stunned official Washington and left Majority Leader Mitch McConnell at least two votes short in the closely divided Senate from being able to move forward with the GOP bill, effectively sinking the measure. It landed shortly after Trump dined with a group of senators to discuss strategy – unwittingly plotting a plan that would immediately become outdated.

Sen. John Cornyn, the second-ranking Republican leader, found out about Lee’s defection after the White House dinner of rosemary-grilled rib eye and summer vegetable succotash. He “had no idea it was coming,” Cornyn said.

Another Republican, South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, found out from TV news.

Moran, a second-term lawmaker from Kansas who isn’t known for making waves, and Lee, a two-term senator from Utah who has clashed with Trump, have been talking over the past 10 days about the health care legislation and agreed the GOP bill did not go far enough to repeal Obamacare or address rising health-care costs. They decided to announce their position to make the bill’s fate clear and allow senators to move on, Moran said.

“It could have been prolonged for days or weeks while no one said anything,” Moran said in an interview.

Moran, who oversaw the Senate Republicans’ 2014 election campaigns, concluded last week he wouldn’t vote for the latest version of the bill but “gave myself a weekend in Kansas to think about it,” he said.

Lee had helped draft an amendment, along with fellow conservative Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, that would allow insurers to sell skimpy plans alongside more robust ones to lower costs. Cruz agreed to some changes in wording by GOP leaders, but Lee thought the new language allowed too many Obama-era regulations to remain in place.

After talking again, Moran and Lee agreed Monday night on a statement drafted earlier in the day. They issued their statement shortly after a White House dinner attended by seven GOP senators – all likely yes votes on the health care bill. Neither Lee nor Moran attended.

A Lee spokesman said the statement – and its timing – “had nothing to do with the White House dinner. It was not a reaction in any way.”

The statement was made public as soon as it was ready, the spokesman said.

Neither Trump nor McConnell received advance warning about the statement, although it’s likely that neither the president nor the Senate leader was completely surprised.

Trump and Vice President Mike Pence spent the weekend calling lawmakers, including Lee and at least seven other GOP senators, according to the administration. Trump talked politics, while Pence discussed policy.

Trump called Lee on Saturday, and Lee told the president he was leaning against the bill, for the reasons he later made public.

Lee told Utah’s KSL Newsradio that he had a great conversation with Trump, when he told the president his “consumer freedom” amendment had been weakened and that he wasn’t sure that he could support the bill.

“He was encouraging to me and said, you know, ‘Just see what changes you can make to it,’ ” Lee said.

Lee and McConnell did not talk over the weekend, but Lee spoke twice to Cornyn, R-Texas, the majority whip.

Trump, who frequently takes to Twitter to announce proposals or denounce opponents, was blindsided by, of all things, a tweet.

He told reporters Tuesday he was “very surprised when the two folks came out last night, because we thought they were in fairly good shape. But they did. And, you know, everybody has their own reason.”

Moran said while he remained committed to repealing the health care law, Congress needs to make a “fresh start” on writing a replacement bill in an “open legislative process.”

“We should not put our stamp of approval on bad policy,” he said, in a statement that followed the tweet.

In his own statement, Lee said the GOP bill does not repeal all the Obamacare tax increases and “doesn’t go far enough in lowering premiums for middle class families; nor does it create enough free space from the most costly Obamacare regulations.”

Both explanations were issued on social media.

“Twitter is a nice medium to get your message out,” Lee’s spokesman said.

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