Tagged: Todd Helton

Day One v Astros. Couldn’t Have Gone Much Better.

Day 133

 

The weather was perfect for a game and beforehand I should have known it was going to be a great day.

Standing on the sidelines, I was watching batting practice with a father and son. The son Josh was attending his first baseball game and his father Dave was a class act who was more than happy to show his son the ropes. Standing there I realized the kid could, with his attitude, score big time today in the free ball department. So a few tricks later and some mild coaching and whatdya know. The kid has his first official ball in hand.

For the first time at the ballpark, the kid scored monumentally. Not only did he get his first ball, but he was smart enough to ask Ian Stewart for a picture. Stewart would go on to hit two homeruns, one being a grand slam. Autographs galore, pictures and his first ball, I should have known this was going to be good. I also had Stewart sign my team ball and he only signed about seven autographs before his warmup so I was very lucky. Come to think of it, maybe the team ball gave him some luck…

And I’m not sure whether it was just my great conversation or the skills I imparted to his son, but Dave from Long Island was cool enough to buy me a beer. Thanks Dave. It hit the spot and it was great talking some old Mets memories with ya. I hope your boy takes you to show- and-tell so you can explain to all his friends the day he had!

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     Dave, his son Josh and yours truly

I even got Todd Helton to sign the team ball although my pen was dead so it had to be sharpie. Unfortunately my team ball has become a mixture of sharpie and pen, but oh well. There was one main autograph I was dying to get. I took a picture of Dexter Fowler, our crazy talented rookie, and knew it was another “hang on the wall” worthy photo. Again this is a photo of a photo so not the greatest quality, but you can check it out. Notice the pitchers eyes as he’s in his windup and Dex is taking off to steal. I love this photo.

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Dex liked it too and took a long look at it. Maybe, in his Major League infancy he has not seen a photo of himself yet. If this was his first, then I’d be proud to say it was a good one. With the photo autographed, I told Dex I’d see him in Atlanta. He was happy to hear and said he’d see me there.

So I added Todd and Ian to the team ball and got another keepsake one a kind photo signed, the day was starting out perfect.

Poor Carlos Lee-Poor Astros  Rockies Open Up A Can and Take the First Game 12-1

Carlos Lee would end up getting heckled pretty good being in left field. I give the guy props though. As the fans were chanting Carlos, Carlos he went along with it putting his hands up in the air and swaying back and forth

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     Carlos Lee by Tom Walsh

It had me cracking up and for the most part the heckling was pretty tame. There was one idiot who was obviously drunk, wearing a throwback football jersey (always a baseball game must) who felt he needed to yell some incredibly stupid stuff. Sorry Carlos for that guy-he was an idiot.

“El Cabballo” had a rough day as did the rest of the team. The Astros would touch up Ubaldo Jimenez for a few hits early, but that was it. Ubaldo would pitch seven shut-out innings and leave with another win in the bag.

The Astros had some opportunities to get some runs and at least make it a game, especially this guy who had em loaded and couldn’t do anything.

 

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      Kaz Matsui by Tom Walsh

It was weird seeing Kaz Matsui, an integral part of the ’07 run, in an Astros uniform, but he chose to take the bigger contract. He had some bad defensive plays at second, but he was able to snag a ball that was hit pretty hard to turn at least one good play. What could have been Kaz, had you not decided to take the money and run?

The big slugger for the Stros, Hunter Pence, didn’t even make a squeak. I’d be fine if I didn’t hear a peep out of him the whole series.

 

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     Hunter Pence by Tom Walsh

That pitch blew by for the strike. A lot of pitches blew by for strikes.

This One’s for Jeff

So there are some pictures I take and I have a definite thought in mind. When I saw the wind blowing through this gals hair, I knew it had Jeff and Allen from RSBS all over it. With their love for attractive female broadcasters and their warring over who is the best, I had to add a darkhorse to the mix. This one’s for you Jeff.

 

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First Results Outstanding- Baseball Across America Looking Good

Day 99

Colorado

If I was a scientist, I would have to say the opening results for Baseball Across America are a smashing success. With each and every test, the results are in and you will get no complaints from this baseball fan.

Starting off, I would like to thank the X-factor of this experiment- some of the people of this country. Mainly Ari, Jimmy, Kyle and Nick (the quiet one) of Tempe Arizona who took a complete stranger in and couldn’t have been a nicer group of dudes to kill some down time with. If the future of America is in the hands of it’s youth, I look forward to seeing what the minds of this group bring about.

Arriving in Tempe, how I could I not love a group of music lovers? In their recessed living room you knew there was some serious jam sessions going on with guitars on stands and cords from mics and pedals taking up the floor. Keyboard, drums, tables these guys were more than guys strumming around with a guitar to impress chicks.

Bachelor pad extraordinaire, the big screen and the rumored three X-box 360s might have clued you in. It wasn’t the sweet Vespa Ari likes to cruise to the university for class or the idea of jumping in their pool out back that made the visit nice though.

 

DSCN0017.JPGThe varying personalities and the idea they would let someone, they had not known the prior day, crash in their pad was what made it great. Like many college students and hard working youth, they had their credo and it cracked me up but I couldn’t disagree and will keep their mantra safe.

DSCN0021.JPGThe guys took some “family” style photos at the studio and were awaiting the arrival before I left. I hope Ari sends me an autographed copy so I can chronicle the guys of the PTP household.

——————————————-THIS JUST IN——————————————-

There couldn’t have been better timing. After completing this blog I was suprised and happy to learn the photos were in. With no further ado I give you the PTP boys!

 

arifamily.jpgOutside of the kindness  of the PTP boys, the game of baseball was also a success. The Rockies managed to take two of three from the D’backs and my time at the ballpark was well spent.

The third game of the series found the Rockies pounding the snakes 9-2 but it also gave me a chance to really wrap up my initial thoughts of Chase Field and the Diamondbacks fan base as a whole. I am going to put all my opinions out there in a separate post so you don’t fall asleep reading this one with it’s length!

Before the game it was nice to really hone in on the experience and get my thoughts together before my drive back to Colorado. The Rockies Roadster had performed exceptionally well in getting me there and all the time and effort I put into it was rewarded.

The people I met had been great to that point and I couldn’t help but think of all the people I would continue to meet. I even managed to chat with a familiar face around the MLBlogs and the contributor to the first “Pro-edition” of Timeout at the Plate- Thomas Harding. Proud papa Harding was happy to say he was glad to be getting back to Denver after talking about recently taking a weekend off to see his son play lacrosse. I was glad to see the man getting back to his family because they were obviously important to him. But the man had to do his job so I snapped a quick pick getting a comment or two from Todd Helton.

 

DSC05854.JPGGetting ready for the game, I couldn’t help but laugh at Spillborghs taking the chalk bag before batting practice and throwing his hands up like Lebron James. It cracked me up. Good thing the skipper didn’t see it because he seemed in that serious coach like mood.

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Speaking of serious, Todd Helton would be sitting today as that is the plan of Clint Hurdle to get everyone on the team, even backups, some quality playing time. Walking over I wondered if he was itching to say something to the skip being the gamer he is and never wanting to sit.

 

DSC05839.JPGThere was some serious power behind some of the balls being hit into the stands and I was hoping this guy could add to the two homeruns he already had in his first two games. So Kylie here’s a picture for you as I know you think Tulo is so dreamy. He’s looking very good this season.

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I had not heard before the game the decision had been made to send starting pitcher Franklin Morales down to the minors to make room for the newbie from Tampa Bay. He pitched a pretty good game and I hope he has the opportunity to show himself again in the show. I was glad to be in attendance to see you get a win Morales and good luck in Colorado Springs.

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If you read my other two blogs from Phoenix, you know I was one of the few Rockies fans in attendance. I was actually pretty proud of that. I tapped a nice Yankee fan from Arizona to snap a quick pick of me before the game started.

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Sitting down, I saw something I have never seen before in any game I have ever been to. With the first pitch of the game Dexter Fowler hit a homerun. I stood up and started clapping not sure I had just seen what I’d seen. It was so quiet a pin could drop and I was trying to not be “that” fan. I knew I was in the visitors park and I was happy to clap and I think I let out a “holy crap” blast as I stood up, but I left it at that. The holy crap changed a bit in the text I immediately sent off to people!

Overall it was a great game and there were some great plays. “Hawper” made a great play to catch the ball and everyone around me wanted to pat me on the back like I had done it!

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The Rockies looked solid and I liked the idea of getting everyone some playing time to keep them fresh. I got to personally witness history watching a young Dexter Fowler take one to the house on the first pitch. I found some great food and I talked to a great D’back fan Calbert, who I will talk more about on Saturday when I do my breakdown of my impressions of the Diamondbacks.

I will let you know what to expect if you get to Chase Field, the good the bad and the ugly.

As for tomorrow, I am taking the parents to see opening day at Coors Field. Later that night I will be going to the Bruce Springsteen concert taking my mom as a gift. Right now, I’d have to say that despite all the obstacles, life if good. Thanks for dropping in and if you’re not already- let’s root, root ,root for the Rockies!

 

Photo credit – Tom Walsh all, minus self portrait and PTP family photo!

From the Sky Sox to the Rox- A Lesson On Never Giving Up From Clint Barmes

Day 80

 

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
clint barmes.jpgNational 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
barmes_clint_.jpgstarted 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

            CBC.ca/sports-action  

WBC Showing Familiar Faces In Strange Places

Day 69

The 2009 World Baseball Classic has been a joy to watch so far and it has been great to see some familiar faces in different places.

During the game on Sunday night between the United States and
andresg.gifVenezuela, the camera took a shot of the Venezuelan dugout. There was a familiar face staring right back at me and it was of a beloved and original Rockie. One Mr. Andres Galarraga “the big cat” himself was back in baseball and it was good to see. He had battled cancer twice and it was good to see not only was he looking healthy but putting some of that experience of his to good use for his home country.

The Rockies have had a number of players come and go in their short history but first base has been a mainstay having two players holding down the position. Others have had short stints at first, but Galarraga and Todd Helton have been the two players to log the most time keeping the defense tight and right.

In their inaugural year 1993, the Rockies fielded players from all over the league including Andres. Up until ’93 Galarraga had played for the now
1993.jpgdefunct Montreal Expos from 1985 to 1991 when he was traded to the Cardinals. While playing for the Cardinals he caught the eye of batting coach Don Baylor who would become the Rockies first skipper a year later. The Rockies would pick him up as a free agent and so would begin the career as one of the Rockies greatest players.    

Rockies faithful would remember the incredible year he would have in 1993 hitting .370 and becoming the first Venezuelan to win a batting title. The 22HRs and 98 RBIs would give the fans in Colorado a glimpse at one of the offensive mainstays during his short but very productive five seasons with the Rockies.

He was the first Rockies player ever sent to an All-Star game and part of the offensive juggernaut known as the “Blake Street Bombers.”  But like all good things it had to come to an end. A young and impressive first baseman by the name of Todd Helton was waiting in the wings and the Rockies decided to go with youth. Galarraga would bounce around until 2005 when he retired after trying out with the Mets.

What’s more impressive than his career was overcoming cancer twice and having as much of a love for the game to still be coaching.

Glad to see you back big cat. Stay healthy and hoping you pop up as a coach somewhere in the United States.


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Photo credit- big cat http://3.bp.blogspot.com

                       -Rockies- http://www.jockbio.com

 

Blame it on Jimmy- My # 17 Todd Helton

Day 24

 

If you didn’t know by now, Jimmy C of Baseball the Yankees and Life started a little tradition of dedicating his ranking number on MLBlogs to a player. So blame it on Jimmy and sit back and enjoy my look at the greatest Rockies player to have worn the jersey, one Mr. Todd Helton. I dedicate my ranking to # 17.

photo-toddheltoncatch.jpgI recently did a piece on MLB Center.com where I put in order my opinion of the top ten Rockies of all time. It was no surprise Todd Helton ended up at number one. Here is my paragraph on Helton and # 17.

The greatest Colorado Rockies player to date, Helton has put together an impressive career since getting into the lineup in 1997. He leads club categories in games played (1661), RBIs (1,116), hits (1957), homeruns (310) and doubles (471). Helton has played for 12 seasons with the Rockies and has been selected to five All-Star games 2000-2004. He has won three Gold Gloves at first base, 2001, 2002 and 2004. He won the 2000 N.L. Hank Aaron Award and been a Silver Slugger four times 2000-2003. 2000 saw him finish the year with an amazing .372 batting average. He currently has an amazing career fielding percentage of .996 and .328 batting average. Under contract to 2011, Helton could finish his career as a Colorado Rockies player and possibly the first Hall of Fame nominee.”

Anyone who has watched Helton at first base has seen a man who loves the game of baseball. I posted in December on why I thought Helton could very well be Hall of Famer and how he compared in his first 12 seasons versus other great first baseman Lou Gehrig and Eddie Murray.

A couple of paragraphs from that post:

The first stat I wanted to analyze was defense. Anyone who has ever seen Helton play can tell you he is a master with the glove. In his first 12 years with the Rockies, Helton has committed a total of 61 errors at his position. That number is nowhere close to the more than double, 140 by Gehrig, and nearly double 108, by Murray during the same span in their careers. What does that mean?

 

That stat alone does not prove his worth but it can help to quantify another key argument why I believe Helton is the greatest Rockies player ever- he makes other players better. How much better was Troy Tulowitzski’s rookie season because of the fielding ability of Helton? Or how much better was Garret Atkins at third or Kaz Matsui at second during the Rockies record setting defensive year in 2007? Helton turned a total of 1,537 double plays so far in his career compared to only 1,076 by Gehrig and similar 1,463 by Murray at the same point in their careers.

 

Statistics alone do not capture the essence of Helton and even when he cannot sign an autograph he is quick to apologize and let you know he’s got practice or the like. A lot of players won’t even look in your direction, but Helton is kind, courteous and a gentleman on and off the field in my opinion.

 

I have never gotten an autograph from Helton. It’s not because I don’t want one it’s because I know exactly what i want.

 

 I took a photograph in the third game of 2007 capturing Helton hitting his 998th RBI and I want that photo signed. I captured many moments that year and I got every photo signed of every player except Helton. When I do, that collection will be complete and I’ll be sure to post them for everyone to see. 

 

toddy.jpgSo I hope you enjoyed my look at Todd Helton and if you want to read up on my prior post in Helton vs Gehrig vs Murray, I think you’ll have the same appreciation for this man I do.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Making the case for the greatest Rockies player and why people should slow down on the criticism

 

In Rockies land the rumor of late is that Garrett Atkins could be part of a trade.
toddy.jpgPoor Garrett probably feels like he should packing his house up and adding that extra bed room all at the same time. If he’s not going to be traded, people like to point out that he is going from third to first base where he played a considerable amount last year with the injury to Todd Helton. With all the talk of Garrett, it’s upsetting to realize the lack of talk of one Mr. Todd Helton who could end up being the greatest Rockies player in the team’s history and he already occupies first base! Here are my arguments:

 

Management Perspective:

So I am a boss and I run a young company who has a great deal of turnover. We put out a product that lots and lots of people are buying. It’s not always the greatest quality, but boy are people buying it up.

 

Along comes this great perspective employee who has started at the bottom of our organization. He’s young and very hardworking. Matter of fact he fights to not take a day off. He’s ordered by the boss to relax. That’s how dedicated he is. From the ground up he has worked his tail off to become the company team leader. He continues to push management to put out the best product possible, and he has always kept to his word on every contract we have ever given him. His name is Todd Helton.

 

Player perspective:

Here I am just up from Colorado Springs and I want to make it in the show. My locker happens to be next to this veteran who doesn’t really say much to me. I’ve heard all about him. He probably doesn’t want to talk to me because in 12 years of playing in the show he has seen more players come and go in losing efforts then I can imagine and isn’t quick to form close relationships. He’s quick to give me tips on the field though. He’s tough and always fighting with the skip to not take a day off. Almost every at bat is quality and I can see opposing pitchers getting frustrated as he fouls off the 10th pitch and ends up getting walked. No matter who is in the infield, seemingly, every ball thrown his way gets snagged. He’s number 17 and his name is Todd Helton.

 

Fan perspective:

Baseball is a game of numbers and failure. Hitting the ball three out of 10 times is considered good, four out of ten great. Comparisons to other player’s numbers of a similar position are the means for justification of greatness. I hear and read all the time Todd Helton is overpaid and signed too long of a contract. He’s no longer productive.

 

With that argument in mind I have analyzed numbers from two other hall of fame first basemen, Lou Gehrig and Eddie Murray, and the first 12 years of their careers veeddie.jpgrsus Helton’s. Is Helton not worth his 16 million a year he is making at first base?


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The first stat I wanted to analyze was defense. Anyone who has ever seen Helton play can tell you he is a master with the glove. In his first 12 years with the Rockies Helton has committed a total of 61 errors at his position. That number is nowhere close to the more than double, 140 by Gehrig, and nearly double 108, by Murray during the same span in their careers. What does that mean?

 

That stat alone does not prove his worth but it can help to quantify another key argument why I believe Helton is the greatest Rockies player ever- he makes other players better. How much better was Troy Tulowitzski’s rookie season because of the fielding ability of Helton? Or how much better was Garret Atkins at third or Kaz Matsui at second during the Rockies record setting defensive year in 2007? Helton turned a total of 1,537 double plays so far in his career compared to only 1,076 by Gehrig and similar 1,463 by Murray at the same point in their careers.

 

Helton also at this point leads the other two in fielding percentage. For those who may not know,  fielding percentage is a widely used baseball statistic which is calculated by dividing a player’s total chances accepted (ie assists plus putouts) by his total chances (ie assists plus putouts plus errors). It is widely accepted too that this number can be debatable looking at other numbers and the players overall skill level.

 

Helton to this point in his career has a near perfect .996 fielding percentage, followed closely by Gehrig’s .990 and Murray‘s .915. It is not fair to compare Gehrig in the Gold Glove comparison because the award had not been invented while he played, however Helton and Murray are tied at three each.

 

Outside of defensive prowess up to this point in his career, how does Helton compare to two hall of famers in their respective offensive stats?

 

Helton has a career batting average of .328 compared to 12 years in Gehrig at .362 and Murray at .295. I think it is fair to point out Helton has achieved this in 5,962 at bats in comparison to 6,845 Gehrig and 5,714 by Murray.

 

Helton has driven in the fewest runs with 1,116 followed by Murray at 1,190 and 1,450 by Gehrig. He also has the lowest on base percentage of the three at .428 versus Murray at .458 and Gehrig at .451. The numbers are similar enough to make a good argument though.

 

Twelve seasons with the Rockies and the numbers show what most fans hopefully already see whenever they root for number 17. Defensively he is as good if not better than two Hall of Fame first basemen at the same points in their careers. He is very close to them offensively as well.

 

Sadly, the only major discrepancy between the three great ball players is the World Series. By this point Gehrig had played in four and won three. Murray had played in two winning one. As we all know Helton has only had the opportunity to play in one which he lost. This point brings up the great debate that baseball is a team sport and no one player can win it all.

 

So is Todd Helton worth the long contract and big money he is getting to play at Coors? In my heart I say yes. I am happy to buy a ticket that goes into that mans paycheck because I know to this point he has been as good as a hall of famer. I can only wish him success and greater years as a player and hopes he brings his wisdom back to the team as a coach when he retires.

 

One thing I don’t think anyone would debate is men like Lou Gehrig, Eddie Murray and Todd Helton all have the greatest qualities you could ever want in a ball player- integrity, class and of course love for the game.