October 2007

Why the "Stampede" tramples Bronco fans

When the Broncos unveiled their own drum-line – the Stampede – for the 2004 season, I was ecstatic.  I love the marching band presence at football games, and for the Broncos to have the presence of a drum-line was a welcome addition.  However, over the years the Stampede concept hasn’t panned out to it’s potential, and has grown into an annoyance, ultimately drawing irritation and resentment at Broncos games.  As a drummer, I may be sensitive about this issue, the problems plaguing the Stampede are someday going to spill beyond annoying the musically-inclined at the games.

Among the Stampede’s struggles, many stem from the following dilemmas:

  • Their in-game repertoire is extremely limited.  As the Stampede enters it’s 4th year it still manages to play the same 3 cadences every game.  Based on my anecdotal observations the Stampede usually gets 5-6 opportunities to be featured throughout the game.  Rather than learning new cadences they’ve resorted to adding additional instruments (more on that later).  I realize that they may not have a lot of opportunity to rehearse, but the fact that they’ve played the same cadences for four years without any incorporation of new material is far-fetched for a high school drum-line, let alone a line made up of former Blue Knights. To be fair, they take part in pre-game festivities and may have parking-lot cadences they don’t play, but why haven’t they rotated those cadences into the game performances?
  • The expansion to non-percussion instruments.  Rather than learn new material, the drum-line incorporated a trumpet player.  The trumpet player increased the repertoire of the Stampede by a whopping 2 songs: Shakira’s “La Tortura”, and a popular jazz song that escapes me at the moment.  At this point the 16-member drum-line has relegated to “rock-band” mode: becoming a glorified drum-set.  The trumpet player takes center stage and defeats the purpose of having a drum-line out there.  The trumpet player is plagued with the same inability to learn new material, and still manages to to play the song with a poor tone and out of tune.  Two years ago they managed to put a guitar player out there with the drum-line, luckily someone came to their senses and we haven’t seen the guitar in over a season.  I had hoped we’d seen the last of the trumpet player when the season began with only the drum-line, but the Green Bay game squashed that hope.
  • Their lack of discipline while they perform.  The coolest part about a drum-line is when they play with a military-like precision, appearing uniform and focused.  In my drum-line days, we made it a point to appear serious (even intimidating), and locking it in: both visually and audibly.  The Stampede has thrown that concept out the window.  During performances the drummers take every opportunity to self-promote themselves, and often stop playing so they want wave at the camera or draw attention to themselves.  This results in their playing looking and sounding sloppy.
  • They’re a closed, nepotistic operation.  The Stampede is presented by the Blue Knights drum corp and due to that sponsorship are completely made up of Blue Knight alums.  This looks good on paper, but in reality turns out to be a bad arrangement.  Where the intention was to have personnel who understand the concept and work-ethic of drum corps, you turn out to have drummers with chops that aren’t what they used to be, as well as the perceived security in their position that gives way to an acceptance of mediocrity and the lack of desire to improve (hence the lack of repertoire and discipline).  You also have drummers who have corp-level ability and experience that are ignored, simply because they weren’t Blue Knights.

    I don’t mean to call out the work-ethic or qualifications of the drummers, but I do have to wonder how the quality could improve if there was a yearly, open audition for the drum-line – just like the cheerleaders.  The healthy competition would not only result in an improved drum-line, but could also be a good PR move for the Broncos organization – just like the Cheerleader auditions or the spring.

 

Obviously a change in attitude and work ethic regarding the drum-line could lead to improvement, but I have two alternatives as to how this could be fixed overnight:

  • Hold yearly auditions, open to all drummers in Colorado.  The Blue Knights could still have an active involvement in facilitating auditions, holding rehearsals.  This may be self-serving (as I would give my right sticks away to have the opportunity to represent the Broncos through drumming), but I can guarantee you that I’m not the only drummer that feels this way.  This would pave way for certain expectations, diversify the Stampede, as well as give the Blue Knights an opportunity to work with drummers over 21 or who maybe didn’t have the opportunity to devote their summer to a corp.
  • Do away with the “static-personnel” Stampede and have a “rotating” Stampede: in the form of high-school and college drum-lines that play for the home game that week.  Each drum-line has their own repertoire of cadences that they can feature.  With marching being in-season (or recently in-season) they would be in-form to give off an impressive performance at the Broncos game.  This would be a great opportunity to offer a unique experience for the drum-lines, as well as diversify the opportunity to participate in the Stampede.

With all the struggles the Broncos are having on the field this season, the Stampede may be the last thing on their mind.  Nonetheless, there is always opportunity to improve and I wanted to offer a few humble thoughts and suggestions on how the Broncos can have the best drum-line in the NFL.

Twittering Monday Night Football

Part of the reason I’m suck a slacker at updating my blog is because I Twitter so much.  Looking at my Twitter widget on my blog, you may have noticed that I posted to Twitter while watching Monday Night Football between the Packers and Broncos.  What you may not realize is that I went nuts on Twitter and ended up going on some tirades.  If it couldn’t be any more self-serving, I thought I would elaborate on some of my messages, especially since you can only say so much in 140 characters:

At Mile High for MNF. It smells like hair paint, and there are a ton of Packer fans.

Holy crap it smelled like hair/face paint up there, yet the closest person with paint on them was 4 seats away, it actually started giving me a bit of a headache during the 3rd quarter.

Stupid Broncos fans who sold their tix to Cheeseheads. This is pretty much an away game

The Packers/Broncos fan ratio at the game was absurd.  It seriously had to be 60/40, give or take 5%.  I thought the Pittsburgh Steelers game a week before was bad, but Packer fan managed to prove that it could be worse.  I had some theories as to why there were so many Packer fans: There were likely people like me who had Game 5 World Series tickets and sold away their Broncos tickets.  I was about to do just that, but luckily decided to postpone the sale after each loss.  I also heard that Packer fans travel well and are eager to be able to go to games.  You also take the Packer fans that live out here and are willing to front a lot of money to see their team play at Mile High every 7 years, combine them with the turncoat Broncos fans willing to sell their tickets for 30 Pieces of Silver and you get Cheesehead Nation at Mile High.

DAMMIT!! The trumpet’s back. It’s official: the drumline sucks again.

I think my issues with the Broncos Stampede drumline warrants it’s own post, but I’ll give you the synopsis: Why does the drum-line need a trumpet player that plays the same Shakira song for 4 years straight?  You have hundreds of pounds of drum equipment on the field, and it’s all ruined by the wimpy trumpet player.  I thought the Stampede learned their lesson, as the trumpet player hadn’t come around all season.  Tonight that changed.

Would it kill the drumline to learn a new song? Or at least be good at the only one you know?

There’s only so many times I can listen to “La Tortura”, and even though the drum-line reverts to rock-beat-mode it some how manages to sound like a water jug rolling down a hill.

Nothing says “I’m a huge fan” quite like painting your face… and leaving early

Dude. DON’T LEAVE EARLY! Maybe you can leave when one of the teams is being blown out, or if you have a babysitter you don’t want to keep up late – but there are no other good reasons for leaving when your team is down by 3 and storming the field on a 2-minute drill.  Oh, and “beating traffic” is never a good reason to leave early.  Chances are that you’re going to get caught with all of the other “traffic beaters”, and heavy traffic is the reality of sporting events.

We just went into overtime and these ladies in front of us decide to leave. What a waste of tickets

Once a year the seats in front of us are occupied by two ladies – I assume one is the wife of season ticket holder, and her friend.  They always somehow manage to go to the huge games, and they couldn’t be any less interested in football.  They always show up at the end of 1st quarter, stick around for about 10-15 minutes (actual minutes, not football clock minutes), leave again and don’t return until 4th quarter.  Where do they go?  They go smoke!  Look, I don’t hold anything against people who are addicted to cigs, but if your need for heaters so bad that you’re willing to miss the majority of an event you paid $112 to go to – I think you have a smoking problem.

Worse yet when they’re at their seats they talk during the whole game, don’t cheer except for the most inappropriate times, flirt with some married guy (when they’re married themselves), and couldn’t be any more disinterested in the actual game.  Here the Broncos are storming down the field and manage to kick a last-second field goal to send the game into overtime.  The stadium is ecstatic and everyone rises to their feet.  So do they – to go have a smoke before they head home.  Nice…

 

Sorry for all of the rants, but when the Broncos fail to capitalize in the Red Zone and manage to screw up 2 opportunities on the 1-yard line – it can put a Broncos fan in a bad mood.

Even in leaving, Pay-Rod finds a way to anger people

They say that timing is everything, and in the case of A-Rod it seems that his timing couldn’t be worse.  In a move that has angered many Yankee fans, Alex Rodriguez managed to anger many in the baseball community as well – by choosing to announce his departure from the Yankees while the World Series was going on

“There was no reason to make an announcement last night other than to try to put his selfish interests and that of one individual player above the overall good of the game,” [baseball’s Chief of Operations] DuPuy said. “Last night and today belong to the Boston Red Sox, who should be celebrated for their achievement, and to the Colorado Rockies, who made such an unbelievable run to the World Series.”

It seems Pay-Rod is too good to hop a plane to Colorado to accept a batting award from Legend (and true home run king) Hank Aaron.  It turns out he had better things to do, like call attention to himself over the game.  Pissing off fans is not the best way to start your free agency tour.  Somehow this seems like an appropriate end to his lackluster time in New York.  A-Rod is an amazing talent, but seemed like he couldn’t do anything right in New York.  I think most of that came from Yankee fans, but this incident shows that some of it may have been justified.

As for the Pay-Rod sweepstakes – my bet is the Cubs.

Begin: Rockies Ticket Disaster Part II

By now everyone is sadly aware that the Rockies ended up getting swept by the Red Sox, and thus there is no game 5. The tickets to game 5 that I was lucky enough to buy are now essentially useless. Next step: trying to get my money back for the canceled tickets.

I went to the Rockies web site this morning and clicked on “Ticket Refund” information, only to find this extremely vague statement:

TicketDisaster2

I understand why we’re supposed to mail the actual tickets (for the poor folks who resorted to buying eBay’ed tix), but how the heck can you expect a refund when you’re not instructed to send them more information? Would it be too hard for someone in Rockies management to make a quick form that you can print, fill-out and mail with your tickets? I guess I’m going to write a letter asking for my refund and include it with the tickets.

After the debacle that was the sale of World Series tickets, would it be too much to ask to not have a potential cluster**** with the return of the tickets? Geez it’s going to suck going through the 50,000+ tickets by hand, hoping the people in the ticket office can read the return address.

Awesome music moment – "Brothers In Arms"

I was working tonight when Dire Straits "Brothers in Arms" came on.  This is such a beautiful and powerful song, with a really profound message in the lyrics.  It made me think back to when I heard it the first time, in a sequence on the West Wing.

This is my all-time favorite part of the entire series, which took place in the Season 2 Finale: "Two Cathedrals".  Basically it became revealed that the President had M.S. and while he knew it before he campaigned, didn’t disclose it during the election.  The song was played entirely in this sequence where his staff gathered and they went to face the media for the first time.

Even without the context of the entire episode, the sequence is pretty powerful. The song was played in it’s entirety and really matched well with what was on the screen.