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The talk of the town

Rox walking the walk; now city talking the talk

DENVER -- Rockies fever has caught on in Denver, and it's reaching weird places.

Purple Rockies shirts and Rockies hats have flooded the streets and sports bars, and the Rockies winning 16 of 17 and taking a 2-0 lead in the National League Division Series has put the Broncos, politics and pop culture conversation on the side burner, as the Rockies are the talk of the town.

"I was in the women's restroom and heard ladies talking about the record, how the Rockies have won so many in a row and it was great hearing the ladies' room talk about baseball," said Amy Nigrini, who works in marketing at ESPN Zone downtown. "That was a first for me in Denver."

As the Rockies worked out on Friday's off-day at Coors Field, the buzz had started to build around the stadium. J.P. McIntosh, who runs the embroidery business The Mad Needle, was riding a bike around downtown selling Rockies hats.

McIntosh said he already had sold 2,500 hats in bulk on Friday alone to local businesses, who are buying them for their employees, and he had sold 100 out of his backpack in two hours Friday afternoon.

"We're already sold out of caps throughout the city," McIntosh said. "I'm running around with these overruns and people are eating them up."

McIntosh, a Denver native, said he hasn't seen this kind of excitement since the Broncos last made the Super Bowl in 1999.

"Look at the vibe that it's given off in the city," he said. "You can see it on the TV, you can see it on sports. These guys are terrorizing the league right now with what they're doing, and Rockies paraphernalia is already sold out."

ESPN Zone still had Rockies shirts and hats on sale Friday, but Nigrini said they have been flying off the shelves and onto the streets, as Metro State student Mitch Sauer has noticed.

"When I walked down 16 Street Mall three or four weeks ago, it would be hard to find people with Rockies hats on or a guy in a Rockies jersey. Now, it's every other person," Sauer said.

Sauer and Denver resident Keith Cooper said they saw the city start to embrace the Rockies after Todd Helton's game-winning homer on Sept. 18 against the Dodgers. Helton's homer gave the Rockies momentum during their stretch run and gave hope to a city that hadn't seen playoff baseball since 1995.

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The Blake Street Bombers rendition of the Rockies led the Majors in attendance from 1993 through 1999, but as the roster overturned and the newness of the now-15-year-old Rockies faded, so too did interest in the team. Colorado dropped to 26th in attendance in 2005 and was 23rd last season.

The Rockies were 19th this season in home attendance, but three of the final four home games were sold out, including Monday's tiebreaker against the Padres.

"Most of the season, it's 10,000 to 20,000 people in the stadium going to the games and now it's sold out every game," Cooper said. "It's a lot more fun even, though a lot of people don't even know half the team -- at least they're excited."

And they're talking, even in the ladies' room.

C.J. Moore is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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