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