A recent Internet search turned up a blog posted a couple of months ago on this very website about Colorado Rockies first baseman Todd Helton.
It seems that Helton was arrested for DUI in February, and the writer suggested that Helton retire from baseball as a result.
Talk about an overreaction — and I don’t even drink.
What Helton did was wrong. What Helton did was stupid. What Helton did was idiotic.
Which of us have gone through life without doing something that was wrong, stupid or idiotic? I’ll probably do something that fits into one of those categories before the day ends. That doesn’t mean I should quit my day job.
Fortunately, no one was physically hurt when Helton screwed up. Helton apologized profusely. The Rockies made the effort to reach out to their “employee” and lend whatever support was needed.
Similar calls for his retirement started to gain momentum about a week ago. That was after the Rockies lost to the San Francisco Giants last Tuesday and Helton’s batting average fell to .095. Disgruntled fans were quick to point out his recent injury, as he had season-ending hip surgery in 2012.
Others said he was too old — he’ll turn 40 in August.
Lately, those calls for retirement have turned to silence. The longtime first baseman is back to showing that he still has what it takes to compete at this level. Remember that .095 batting average? It was nothing a weekend in San Diego couldn’t fix. From Wednesday through Sunday, his batting average climbed 172 points to .267.
Those expecting to see Helton put up numbers similar to the ones he did in 2001 (216 hits, 59 doubles, 147 RBIs, .372 batting average) are going to be disappointed, but that doesn’t mean he should call it quits.
Those expecting to see Helton in the lineup every day will be equally disappointed. The last time he played in as many as 150 games was in 2009. He’s already missed three games this season. It would have been four games had he not entered Sunday’s contest as a pinch-hitter. He hit a two-run home run with that at-bat, the difference in the 2-1 victory over the Padres.
With most of the season still ahead, there will be times when Helton struggles. There will probably be an increase in the daily aches and pains. He might even commit an error or two, or probably more.
But the best thing Rockies fans can do at this point is enjoy the show. It’s not every day you will get to see a player of his caliber anchored at first base in Coors Field. Helton has done a lot for the city of Denver and its baseball fans. It’s time they returned the favor by not trying to push him into retirement.
With the exception of one bone-headed move on his part this past February, Helton is smart enough to know when to hang ’em up. Let him be the one to make that decision.