|Todd Helton's final days in a Rockies uniform is the only reason to watch.|
However, when the Colorado Rockies lose 15-5 and 11-0 in consecutive baseball games, late in September in a season on the brink of being a 90-loss campaign, there really isn't too much more to talk about.
Helton homered and doubled in his final game at Coors Field on Wednesday, putting his career total at 369 home runs and 592 doubles. Throw in 37 career triples, do the arithmetic and the total comes to 998 career extra base hits in Helton's illustrious career.
With two games to go in the Rockies legend's career, he could conceivably finish with an even 1,000 extra base hits.
The debate over Helton's Hall of Fame status can begin at a later date. However, digging deep into his stats reveals one thing, he may not have one single statistic that guarantees enshrinement, but there also isn't one statistic that is completely lacking and can be pointed to as a reason he shouldn't be in. Coors Field or not, 1,000 extra base hits is an incredible number. Realizing that Helton produced one extra base hit in every two-and-a-half hits throughout his big league career is a pretty incredible accomplishment.
Helton faces Zach Grienke on Saturday night at Dodger Stadium. In his career, Helton is just 2-for-15 against the Dodgers power pitcher. He owns one double against him.
The reality is, while losing Helton is something that no Rockies fan wants to see happen, the end of the season is a welcome sign. This is a team that has under performed and struggled for the past four months. They have been playing out the string since well before the All-Star break, and frankly, haven't given the fans much to be excited about at all.
When it is all said and done, the front office may point to the fact that the team is improving, with a finish somewhere between eight and 10 games better than their 98-loss campaign of a year ago. However, this Rockies team is, once again, far better than the record would suggest.
This is a team with three capable starting pitchers, three guys who not only went to the All-Star Game, but started for the National League. The Rockies bullpen was sufficient until the pitch-count rules that the Rockies enforce internally caused the relievers to work with overused arms, which they paid dearly for as the year wound to a close.
Injuries, once again, plagued the Rockies. However, at some point, that excuse has to go away. The Rockies must quit pointing to the number of players on the disabled list as a reason why they can't contend. The Yankees, who admittedly won't be in the playoffs, started 10 different players at third base. Though they are going to be watching the postseason from the same location as the Rockies--their couch--they also were in the race until the final week of the season.
The Rockies season will mercifully be over on Sunday. At that point, fans can change their focus to something different. They can think about off-season moves, or simply watch better baseball teams play in high leverage situations and see what good baseball is all about.
If Todd Helton had called a press conference and said that he would be returning for another year, there would be no reason to continue watching the Rockies as the season winds down. However, with him being two extra-base hits away from 1,000, and simply because Rockies fans won't be able to see him masterfully foul pitches off before drilling a hit the other way again, it gives reason to at least pay some attention.
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