The Los Angeles Dodgers defeated the Colorado Rockies in extra innings on Friday night. Rafael Betancourt pitched the top of the 10th for the Rockies, losing his second in three games for Colorado. The Arizona Diamondbacks also failed to secure a W Friday night, keeping the Rockies deficit in the NL West at 2.5 games.
Those are the facts, and the unbiased stats of the evening.
However, if you will indulge me, I am going to let down my “stick to the facts” and “don’t let emotion enter your writing” guard tonight. This probably won’t come as a shock to those of you that religiously read my “rants” – I am a Rockies fan, and have been for 20 years now. I am one of the fortunate few followers of an MLB team that can remember basically every significant moment in teams’ history.
In the bottom of the ninth inning, Todd Helton stepped up to the plate and crushed his fourth home run of the year, sending the game to extra innings. Helton didn’t start the game at first, so it would simply be a pinch-hit effort, the impact of which is lost on those who aren’t double-decade followers of the Mile High ball club.
I am not in that category. Recently, I have read countless articles questioning Helton’s abilities at first base, the boldest of which asking if it is time for Helton to step aside and allow youth to take over his position. I read such articles with wide eyes, mouth ajar and complete disbelief.
Any negative coverage of Helton by Colorado news sources is an incomprehensible act to me. Why, you might ask? 17 out of 20 years of Rockies baseball was without a postseason birth, and of the three years the Rockies did make the post season, two were teams that were led by Helton.
The passing of a torch is quietly happening for an MLB team that has yet to retire a jersey number other than the sacred 42 of baseball pioneer, Jackie Robinson. A group of memorable names were original Rockies, a handful of which now coach this team.
But Helton was the first homegrown superstar, a fact that should be lost on no one.
Nostalgia is my personal favorite element of sports. My second favorite is storylines that are lost on most. Helton qualifies for both. Watching the veteran go yard tonight should have sparked nostalgic feelings in any and all longtime fans of the Blake Street crew.
There is a strong possibility that we are at the proverbial twilight of a great thing. Every at-bat, every defensive out in the field and every game we have the opportunity to see No. 17 play is one closer to an inevitable end. And when that end does happen, that number should be visible forever in Coors Field as the first official number retired by the Rockies.