Face of the franchise and hopeful Hall of Fame first baseman Todd Helton will return to the Rockies for another season in 2013. Some wondered if all of the games lost to injury this season because of a troublesome hip combined with his previous back troubles might spell the end for the Toddfather. While Helton did not make a firm announcement about his return, he made it known that he wants to keep playing in the right situation.
The first factor will be continued progress with his physical health. Specifically, Helton wants to be surehe can hold up for the entire season. The brutal reality is, the durability of his body is only half of the equation. The other half will be Helton’s continued willingness to make concessions and take more days off, something he has shown he is perfectly capable of: “I will have to have ample days off. I know that. If I come back, I expect to play as much as I can. How much? It’s hard to tell.”
The second factor will be the Rockies’ ability to be competitive. As the team battles to avoid the 100 loss mark this season, which would be a first in franchise history, nobody can blame Helton for not wanting to put in so much hard work to return for an irrelevant franchise. This is when things get more complicated.
It is so difficult to see Helton struggle like he did this season before getting shut down. We all remember the gratification we felt when Helton jumped up and down in celebration when the team reached the 2007 World Series. If ever there was a player who earned that success, and if ever there was a player we wanted it so badly for, it was Helton. He stuck with the Rockies and he has become the face of this franchise in a way unique to any period in sports, let alone the hasty impermanence of the 2000’s. We invest in Helton’s career on a different level than most other players.
Helton’s stoicism and quiet dedication are what we love about him, and it made the contrast of him showing the ecstasy of celebration that more enjoyable. Speaking for myself as a fan, all I want is to see Helton enjoy that kind of success and have a chance to celebrate one more playoff berth before he hangs up his cleats, his rock-solid bat and his golden first baseman’s glove. Understanding the unlikelihood of that scenario in the next season or two, I just want him to go out on his own terms, whatever that looks like.
Hopefully that is the path Helton is on going into next year’s Spring Training.