On the list of people Todd Helton thanked during his retirement press conference on Monday afternoon, he was sure to mention former Rockies manager and current Pittsburgh Pirates boss Clint Hurdle. During Hurdle’s stint as hitting coach and then manager of the Rockies, he was a mentor and a key figure in Helton’s illustrious career.
It might be poetic, then, that the Rockies would play spoiler to the St. Louis Cardinals in order to help out an old friend in the NL Central race. But poetic is all that it would be, because this home stand is not about playing spoiler, playing for pride, or even playing for future development. It’s about Helton.
The Toddfather has consistently said that out of everything, he will miss the competition most. So whatever is happening in the standings or in the future, the Rockies owe it to Helton to be competitive in these last 10 games. With each at-bat Helton is closer to his last; if the team can help it, none of those at-bats should take place in a game where the Rockies are on the wrong end of a laugher.
Baseball this time of the year can get ugly, and sometimes it even takes on the feel of an exhibition game, or something like a chilly Spring Training game. Helton deserves better than playing his last innings in those kinds of silly affairs. There are some factors that are beyond anybody’s control, but as much as they can, the Rockies should want to win these games so that the greatest competitor the franchise has ever seen can do just that: compete.
Last night’s 6-2 win, keyed by a solid start from Collin McHugh (of all people), was a good start. Hopefully the Rockies can keep it up the rest of the way: not to play spoiler, but to give #17 every bit of real competition possible before he hangs it up.