Recently, Rockies fans learned that Ryan Spilborghs had officially made the decision to retire as a professional baseball player, and that he would be continuing to earn his living through baseball by joining the Root Sports broadcast team. Much has been said about Spilly since then, including that he was an unspectacular player. But how will he fare in the broadcast booth?
To be honest, the main thing I’ve missed about Spilly since he left the Rockies is his personality. His bat was okay–there’s a reason he mostly found himself pinch-hitting and/or platooning in the outfield. He was good for a few high-octane moments, particularly that walk-off grand slam he hit in August 2009, which jumpstarted the Rockies’ playoff run. But mostly, he was a funny guy. He was an entertaining guy. He was the one I always wanted to see interviewed, and then he became the one doing the interviewing when he began his “Spill the Beans” series. (See YouTube for a complete roundup, but one of my favorites is the Huston Street edition.) In a Rockies jersey, warmup pants, and a blazer, Spilly read from his notes to a camera in a bare studio space. He asked his teammates hilarious questions and generally got hilarious answers. You could tell that he liked them and they liked him.
These days, you have players and managers constantly calling one another out in the press, and guys like Alex Rodriguez thinking it’s a good idea to sue the entire sport of baseball. It’s just nice to see a guy who enjoys being on a team. Who enjoys the game. I like Spilly for the same reason I like Nick Swisher–they have fun. That makes me have fun.
It reminds us all that baseball is, in the end, a game. An important game, one that wins many fame, fortune, and glory. But just a game, guys running around on a field playing tag. I have great respect for a player who can play the game with joy, get along with everyone in the clubhouse, and be fulfilled enough in himself and his family that he can retire even though he never held down a starting job. There’s no shame in that. Spilly was the best Spilly he could be on the field, and now he’s going to go be the best Spilly he can be in front of the camera. I, for one, will be watching.