07/20/12 10:57 PM ET
Rockies honor victims of Aurora shooting
By Thomas Harding /
The Rockies described their actions in a statement that was read on Root Sports Rocky Mountain at the start of its broadcast. The flags at Petco Park were flown at half-staff, and the Rockies stood at the edge of the warning track in front of their dugout during pregame ceremonies as a show of solidarity.The tragedy immediately brought to mind the Columbine High School shooting on April 20, 1999, when two students killed 12 fellow students and one teacher before killing themselves. The Rockies postponed their scheduled game with the Expos that evening. Rockies special front-office assistant Vinny Castilla, who was with the team Friday, was a star player for the Rockies when the Columbine incident occurred. "I'm very sad -- I feel something in my stomach," Castilla said. "You just imagine your kids in that theater with a crazy guy like this guy going in there and start shooting. I feel really bad for the families of the victims. You think it could be you with your kids there. That's a sad thing for the United States and for Colorado. Thinking about it makes me sick. "It brings back sad memories of what happened at Columbine. You think it's never going to happen again, then, boom, it happens. It's very sad." Rockies outfielder Carlos Gonzalez said such times put into perspective the fact that professional sports are entertainment and escape for those who support the athletes. The lesson was driven home way too many times in his native Venezuela. "When there were political times, when they were trying to elect the president, all that stuff, people always have the pressure of being in danger every day," Gonzalez said. "Going to the stadium is a really good way to escape, to just relax their mind, enjoy the game and don't think of anything else -- family problems or what is happening in the country. We work hard to put on a show for the fans because, in the end, baseball is about them. "All my prayers and thoughts are going to the families that lost someone. It's hard." Manager Jim Tracy opened his pregame press conference by speaking of those affected by the shooting. "On behalf of our entire organization, our hearts and our prayers, our feelings, everything, go out to the victims and their families and to the state of Colorado in the tragedy that took place last night," Tracy said. "When you experience something like that, the realization that we're just playing a baseball game tonight pales in comparison to what a number of people are going through as we sit here. "It was not only important, but imperative tonight that I make a comment. Our thoughts, our prayers, everything we've got as an organization goes out to the people and the families, the victims, of the incredible tragedy that took place earlier this morning."
Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Hardball in the Rockies, and follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.