The Rockies had some freak injuries in 2008. None was more heartbreaking than watching the Mets Jose Reyes slide into second base and sideline Clint Barmes with a sprained knee. Not again I thought. Can’t this guy ever catch a break…?
First lesson when you get knocked down-get back up. In his rookie season 2005, while leading
National League rookies in most offensive categories, Clint Barmes was a shining star. Like another freak injury, Barmes fell while carrying some deer meat he had gotten from Todd Helton and broke his collarbone. A titanium plate and some screws later, fans could only wonder what his career would look like.
Rooting for the Rockies is fun because we are a small market team with guys like Barmes. And in case you hadn’t heard it’s not Barmes like Barnes and Nobles but (bar-mess) or (bar-miss) depending on what emphasis or drawl you take. Either way you say it still equates to hard work and class.
There’s no huge money trouble-making free agents on the Rockies who hog the spotlight and don’t play like a team. There are just guys like Barmes who bust it day in and day out to get it done.
Before his injury in 2008, Barmes was another shining light for the Rockies. The season had
started with Jayson Nix at second base but he struggled and was replaced by Clint. Barmes would go on to replace Tulowitzki when he had his freakish muscle tearing off the bone injury. Either position, short or second, Barmes had his stride and you had faith the middle infield was secure.
He was unstoppable hitting .343 before taking the slide from Reyes. Again fans had to wonder how he would react and what would he be like when he came back.
I made it a point to be at his first rehab game for the Sky Sox. It was just like old times. He had his huge smile and took time to talk with every fan who wanted an autograph. No sign of stress or depression. Rather just a ballplayer who, reading his body language, was humbled to be playing the game.
That was the Clint Barmes I knew from watching the Sky Sox and those years he was trying to make the roster again for the Rockies. That was the same guy who, when never given anything but a Triple-A roster spot, acted like the most humbled guy with every autograph request and never shied away from taking a picture with a child or fan.
I didn’t have any memorabilia for Clint to sign but I handed him my ticket and wished him well rehabbing and getting back up to Denver. I wanted that ticket signed because I wanted to remember the day he came back and the start of something special.
He would make it back up to the show and still had his swing hitting .306 in his final 29 games of the season.
Barmes has been nothing but dependable in his spring so far and I and so many other Rockies fans expect big things from this ballplayer in ’09.
With guys like Barmes, Ianetta, Spilborghs, Jimenez and many others, it is easy and fun to root root root for the Rockies. No big money egos just soft spoken hard working big time players.
Photos- Foxsports.com- face
There it was. The sixth inning of the USA vs Venezuela game. The U.S. has just tied the game up at 3-3 with a run being walked in.
There he was. The stocky fresh faced catcher known as Chris Ianetta. I hurried to make sure the main television in the house had this game on. After all, I am staying in a house of Angels fans right now, as I take up the generosity of friends after I moved out of my home in anticipation of my journey later this summer.
“Check it,” I frantically said.
This is the Rockies catcher and I love this kid. Not man crush love but somewhat close. He’s coming up to the plate and the bases are loaded with the game tied. “Man I love this dude,” I said excitedly.
Crack. There it goes and goes. Two feet away from a grand salami and I’m jumping in joy for this one man. He had proved me right. I call him my boy and my boy came through.
Three run double would do just nicely. The U.S. squad was up 6-3 and they would never look back as they brought out the bats 15-6 in the win over Venezuela.
In the house of Angels I was the proudest dude in the room. We could all root for the United States but I could especially root for the player I had watched come up in Triple-A
ball and now was playing on the world stage representing us all.
I thought back to the time when I would tell people this guy was a player to watch and a Rockies catcher they could get excited about in ’06. Ianetta got the call to start the season in 2007 and I was there the second day of the season when he and Troy Tulowitzki had put together some extra innings runs and won late at night with snow coming down in Denver.
I was freezing but I had the camera snapping shots as I jumped for joy with the other 300 people or so that were left in the stands that night. It was freezing but it’s a warm memory. Later in 2007 Ianetta would get sent back down to the Triple-A Colorado Springs Sky Sox to work on his hitting as he struggled most of the time in the show.
With a simple and hard work ethic I would watch him in the Springs getting done what needed to be done. I had been working on some photographs from that second game and I came across one of Chris I wanted to have signed. I had never really been much of one for autographs in my life but I wanted him to sign this photo.
So one summer evening I walked over to the dugout and politely asked if he could sign a photo I took of him earlier in the season. He looked over and quietly said to give him a minute. A lot of players that means buzz off, but for Ianetta he was true to his word. He went and put his catchers gear in the dugout and came over to chat. He wasn’t much for words but he held the same silent and strong demeanor I have always seen of him.
I showed him the photo and explained how I had taken it and it was an exciting game. I told him that I knew he would be back in the show in no time and he politely thanked me and took off to go warm up for the game.
I didn’t get the autograph because I was star struck or thought he was this god but because I watched him day in and day out bust his butt to play ball. He didn’t complain or make a stink about being sent down and he admitted that he would need to work on his at-bats if he was going to compete in the Majors.
He did just that. He would end up coming back up in 2007 and with injuries to Yorvit Torrealba in 2008 he took the starting job back and hasn’t let up. In ’08 he set Rockies club records for a catcher with 65 RBIs and .390 on-base percentage. I enjoy that autograph because it comes from a guy I see as playing the game in the way it is supposed to be played with dedication and hard work. I know I have the only picture with that autograph and a unique memory of it so it’s all the more special.
Seeing him go two for three with four RBIs in the World Baseball Classic was just another chance to brag and say that’s my boy. World meet Ianetta.
If you didn’t get to watch the USA defeat Canada 6-5 in the first round of the World Baseball Classic, you missed one hell of a game.
It had everything you want in a good game. The long ball was king and pitching was no slouch either. Late game nerves and a catcher running to the mound to make sure no signs were stolen in the ninth.
Both teams had great defensive plays and twice in back to back innings the Canadians worked their way out of bases loaded situations where the United States could have blown the game wide open.
Seattle Mariners 20-year-old pitcher, Phillippe Aumont, showed why he was a first round draft pick and why he probably won’t be playing Single-A ball for too long. After loading the bases, he settled in to get three straight outs to shut down the advance of team USA. He looked more like a veteran and baseball fans should not be suprised if he is dominating the American League in a few years.
Team USA had three homeruns. Kevin Youkilis, Adam Dunn and Brian McCann all got in on the action while Canada had Russell Martin and Joey Votto sending shots into the stands.
It didn’t take much of a baseball fan to realize there were a lot of rivals playing for team USA on the field today. Watching Jeter throw to Youkilis at first base was awkward at first and seeing Rollins come in and play shortstop while David Wright was not far away was something to see.They were playing for the name on the front of the jersey and not the back and they left the rivalries at home.
That was the most enjoyable part of getting to see the game today. No matter whether you are a Red Sox fan you had to root for a Yankee player or whether you hate the Phillies you couldn’t help for Victorino to track the ball down in the outfield. As a Rockies faithful, I may have been tougher on USA starter Jake Peavy but I was glad to see him interviewed later in the game and the excitement he had for the Classic.
I just hope everyone is as excited tomorrow when team USA takes the field again. One of my favorite Rockies players, who I have followed since his days in Triple-A ball, Chris Ianetta will be the starting catcher and I hope he puts on a show.
Photo credit- Christian Peterson, Getty Images