Sunday, April 15, 2012

Raising Helton: Todd delivers again for the Colorado Rockies

Helton delivered again on Saturday.
Friday night wasn't enough for Todd Helton.

On Saturday night, with the rain and wind making it completely miserable to be playing or watching baseball, it looked like the Colorado Rockies would be the victims of an ugly, weather marred game.

Instead, for the second straight night, a veteran in his twilight showed that he still has some gas in the tank.

With two outs in the bottom of the 9th inning, Helton strolled to the plate with the theme song from "Superman" playing over the Coors Field speakers. The Rockies, who had found themselves down a run after losing their momentum to a rain delay, were in need of a hero.

Marco Scutaro, a 38-year old veteran himself, led off the inning by getting plunked on the upper back by Diamondbacks closer JJ Putz. Perhaps setting the stage, Scutaro went down to the ground, undoubtedly in pain. With the temperature at 38 degrees, a baseball hitting the body doesn't feel good. However, Scutaro bounced up, looked into the Rockies dugout and gave two big claps of the hands, signaling something that the Rockies missed in 2011, a sign of someone being willing to do whatever it takes to help his team win a game.

After Jason Giambi popped out and Troy Tulowitzki struck out, it came down to the hero from the previous night. On a 1-1 count, Helton launched a high fly ball. It was so high it didn't seem like there was any chance the ball would leave the yard. It also was hugging the foul line, leaving fans in suspense. Would it be fair? Would it be caught? Would it go out? As the moon shot finally came down, the Coors Field faithful had the celebration that they were waiting for.

The scene seemed fitting for Helton. It was a snapshot of his entire career. The rain had driven the vast majority of the nearly 30,000 fans to their cars and the delay had ensured that all of the national baseball shows would be done covering games for the night.

It seems as if all of Helton's big moments in his career have come when he was the cornerstone of a young, terrible team, or when Coors Field was discounted for it's offensive ridiculousness. Many of his fans have wondered what Helton would be thought of if he had spent his playing days in Boston or New York.

However, based on who Helton is, it almost seems fitting. He shies away from the spotlight. He doesn't seek the cameras. He seeks to impress himself, and is driven to win, not for fame, but to be the best.

Saturday night was just another chapter in the long, extensive book that is Todd Helton's career. With critics calling for him to retire for the past five seasons, Helton simply continues to show that he can still play the game, and he can still play the game with the best players. He is no wash up. He might not hit 50 home runs anymore, but his bat still deserves respect. If anyone agrees, it is the Arizona Diamondbacks.

With most of the city writing off the Rockies after a terrible showing on Opening Day, and the national media writing off the team as underachievers, Helton and the Rockies might just have the intangibles and desire to make this team overachieve. They believe they can be good, and in baseball, that goes a long way.

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