Top Shelf

Storybook endings, in sports and drinking

The best part about the opening of baseball season is that all teams are level in the standings. Hope springs eternal. A look at the expert’s predictions reveals nothing unexpected. All the best teams from a year ago should contend once again: the Royals, Cubs, Mets, Dodgers, Cardinals, Blue Jays, Astros and Rangers are all predicted to be in the mix. The Red Sox and Giants should return to prominence. But on Opening Day, everyone is even.

The Arizona Diamondbacks expect to turn around a dismal 2015 campaign after signing former Cy Young winner Zack Greinke. The woeful Colorado Rockies, who traded the face of their franchise, all-star shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, to the Blue Jays last year, are expected to be doormats again. But Opening Day was the great equalizer. Enter Trevor Story.

First, the back-story: The 23-year-old spent all of last year in the minors, starting the year in AA New Britain before a mid-season call-up to AAA Albuquerque. He hit a total of 20 homers, split evenly between the two minor league teams. When Jose Reyes was suspended indefinitely because of a domestic violence charge on vacation in Hawaii during the offseason, Story emerged as the frontrunner for starting shortstop during spring training.

In the third inning of Opening Day, Story lined a Greinke fastball into the cheap seats in right for his first Major League hit. In the process, he joined Jay Gainer as the only Rockies player to homer in his debut. Gainer did that in 1993, the Rockies’ inaugural season. But Story wasn’t done. In the next frame, he golfed an opposite field homer off of Greinke to left. In doing so, he became just the sixth player in baseball history to have two homers in his first game. What’s more, Trevor Story became the first player to hit a pair of bombs in a career debut on Opening Day. Against a former Cy Young winner, no less!

The Irving, Texas, native had done something that nobody else had accomplished in 140 years of professional baseball. And, in doing so, the Rockies woke up Tuesday morning tied with perennial powerhouses Los Angeles and San Francisco atop the National League West standings.

The Rockies may very well notch their sixth straight losing season in 2016. But for one glorious day, they were kings. And Trevor Story sat atop the throne.

Across the pond, a 5,000-to-1 odds team leads the Barclays Premier League table with just six matches remaining in the season. Leicester City F.C., which is often relegated to the second tier of English football, owns a seven-point lead in the standings. Forget Man U, Man City, Liverpool, Chelsea and Arsenal, what with their giant budgets. The little Leicester Lions are a few weeks away from clinching the most improbable upset in the history of sport … one that rivals the U.S. hockey victory over the Soviets in Lake Placid back in 1980.

It’s the reason kids start kicking balls or hitting rocks with sticks. David sometimes slays Goliath.

Springtime: for some, means stowing the skis and boards for eight months, while dusting off the bikes and rafting gear. For others, it means tilling the garden. For baseball dads and soccer moms, it means shuffling the kids off to practice. And for the drinking class, it means remembering one monumental date.

Way back on April 7, 1933, Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the law that changed the Volstead Act to legalize the sale of 3.2 percent beer. Although it would take another eight months before Prohibition would be officially repealed, this became the red letter day for beer drinkers because they no longer needed to speak a password through a peep hole to enter a tavern.

We here in 21st century Durango certainly appreciate our booze, what with six breweries and one distillery. The Durango Bootleggers’ Society hosts its annual Prohibition Repeal Party at 6 p.m. tonight (Thurs., April 7) at BREW Pub & Kitchen. It’s a speakeasy-style event highlighted by the tapping of the collectively brewed Spring Tonic Elixir, which features a pre-prohibition recipe. And that’s not all: local historian Duane Smith will talk about Durango’s euphoric and illegal hooch history, plus BREW will offer pre-prohibition style cocktails (including one featuring Mayday Moonshine from Durango Craft Spirits), a special speakeasy menu and more. BREW’s resident dominatrix strongly suggests you dress in period-themed costume.

If the Spring Tonic Elixir isn’t enough to wet your whistle, BREW’s latest line of ales includes Jesus (a double IPA brewed with yarrow), Xanthe (a session ale with ginger and lemongrass) and Molly (a heather braggot).

The Animas City Theatre offers a few shows for the late-night crowd, with DJ tribute band DJ noDJ, featuring Mikey Thunder, at 8:45 p.m. tonight. Friday, local funkadelic-jamgrass six-piece Liver Down the River hosts a CD release party at 9 p.m., with the Phish musical tribute outfit Jazz is Phish taking the stage Sunday at 8:30 p.m.  

Pianist Jocelyn Swigger will play the complete Chopin etudes at 3 p.m. Sunday at Roshong Recital Hall at FLC. Swigger, who taught at FLC in the ’90s, is excited to return to Durango to share these 27 etudes, widely regarded as some of the most difficult and beautiful pieces in classical piano literature.

Also of note: Kirk James plays solo blues at Durango Craft Spirits from 5:30-7 p.m. tonight; Icite spins at Moe’s from 9 ‘til close Friday; and DJ Noonz returns to Moe’s from 9 ‘til close Saturday.

1933 was an epic year, not just because of the repeal of the 18th amendment. This week’s Top Shelf list features 10 cultural highlights of sorts:

1. Billie Holiday was discovered singing at Monette’s Club

2. Bing Crosby owned the charts for 14 weeks with “You’re Getting to Be a Bad Habit”

3. Ethel Waters’ “Stormy Weather” spent 11 weeks atop the Billboard charts

4. Willie Nelson was born in Abbott, Texas

5. FDR outlined his New Deal on “Fireside Chat” radio show

6. “King Kong” premiered in New York City

7. Katharine Hepburn wins the Best Actress Oscar for “Morning Glory”

8. Jimmie Rodgers, considered the Father of Country Music, died of tuberculosis

9. Michigan wins a national championship in college football

10. Two Philadelphians, Jimmie Foxx of the A’s and Chuck Klein of the Phillies, won triple crowns

Where have you gone, Joe DiMaggio? Email me at



In this week's issue...

January 25, 2024
Bagging it

State plastic bag ban is in full effect, but enforcement varies

January 26, 2024
Paper chase

The Sneer is back – and no we’re not talking about Billy Idol’s comeback tour.

January 11, 2024
High and dry

New state climate report projects continued warming, declining streamflows