You can become Charlie Blackmon if you’d like — at least for a single at bat.
All you must do to pretend you’re the Rockies’ star center fielder is walk toward a booth behind section 115 during any home game and slip on a set of white goggles and white headphones. A Samsung phone fits snuggly inside the goggles. It’s all part of a virtual reality simulator designed to give you the chance to see and hear what Blackmon sees and hears when he he’s batting.
You don’t become Blackmon instantly. Patience. But he does greet you in his purple jersey and pinstripe pants in the hallway leading to the Rockies’ dugout. You follow Blackmon, Tony Wolters and Christian Bergman up the stairs.
Coaches lean against the railing and peer out at the field when you step inside. Blackmon is standing in front of you, maybe 3 feet away. He’s not wearing a hat or helmet. You resist the urge to touch his mullet.
He’s almost up.
He finds his helmet and bat and heads toward the on-deck circle. You follow him out there and stand on the dirt as he takes his practice cuts. It’s the same swing you’ve seen a thousand times. The bat wiggles up and down, then up and down. He kicks his front foot up and follows through.
It’s time to bat now. That’s when you become him. You’re no longer an eerily close observer. You’re Charlie Blackmon. You’re wearing his helmet. You’re carrying his bat. You have a mullet and a bushy beard. You’ve never had a beard — just some patchy stubble you have to hack off every four or five days. It feels good to have a beard.
“JOSIE’S ON A VACATION FAR AWAY”
The Outfield’s “Your Love” blares across the speakers, because is it’s not a Charlie Blackmon at bat until The Outfield’s “Your Love” starts to blare across the speakers.
You’re breathing heavily as you settle into the box. It’s dark, but lights flicker in the outfield seats. Cameras, probably. The stadium is illuminated by the two enormous sets of light that hang high in left and right field.
You dig your back foot into the dirt. That’s your left foot. (You’re left-handed, remember?) A catcher squats behind you. There’s the pitcher in front of you and an infield. They’re wearing white jerseys, but it’s difficult to tell what team they’re a part of.
The pitcher settles in. He’s right-handed. That’s good, because you’re absolutely raking (.319/.376/.595 with 23 home runs) against righties this year. He winds up and delivers the pitch. It looks like a fastball. It’s coming straight down the middle. Your body uncoils, and bat meets ball. There’s a loud crack, and it’s over. The screens fade to black.
You’d like to think you hit a home run. Number 28 of the year! That’s good. You’re eligible for arbitration this summer. The more home runs, the more money.
Plus you helped your team score some runs. You think.