The Colorado Rockies have won 66 games this season, including Monday night’s 3-0 win over the Atlanta Braves at Coors Field. However, it’s a safe bet that the music coming from inside the Rockies clubhouse has never been louder than it was during the post-game media conference on Monday night.
You see, Monday night wasn’t just a 3-0 win. Monday night wasn’t just a way to get a four-game series against the Braves off on the right foot. Monday night wasn’t about snapping a three-game losing streak. Monday night was a celebration of the human spirit. Monday night was, in fact, a celebration of a teammate beating a horrific disease and, pardon the language here, pitching one hell of a game.
Chad Bettis drew cheers from the crowd as he walked in from the bullpen before the game on Monday. He drew cheers when he took the mound for the first time since beating testicular cancer and overcoming chemotherapy. He drew massive cheers when he left the game in the seventh inning after scattering six hits and not allowing the Braves to score.
He did not get the win. The Rockies scored their three runs in the eighth inning after Bettis had already been pulled from the game. However, it wasn’t about a statistical personal win on Monday night. The 28-year-old Bettis had already won by stepping foot back on the diamond that he swore he would return to as soon as he was ready.
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Many shook their head when they heard Bettis was going to try to pitch again this season. Hopefully, every one of those people were part of the 33,641 fans in attendance at Coors Field to see the triumph of the human spirit.
And you know what’s really cool about this storybook ending that we saw on Monday night? It’s not an ending at all. It is merely a beginning. Bettis is adamant that he’ll be back on a regular pitching routine for the Rockies. It will be a shot in the arm for Colorado as the Rockies continue to battle for their first postseason appearance since 2009.
When Colorado manager Bud Black was informing Bettis he was done for the night after the seventh inning, television cameras caught a poignant moment between the former and current pitchers on the bench.
Black was asked afterwards about the conversation. He didn’t give too much away. He didn’t need to. We could all see the emotion in those few moments in the dugout. Admiration, joy, pride and relief, all summed up in just a few words and smiles.
As I walked out of the media room following the interviews with Bettis after the game, the new father was walking in front of me. He stopped to talk to family but they urged him to go see his infant daughter, who could be heard crying in another room.
Bettis, a baseball player, new father and cancer butt-kicker, smiled and headed toward his child. That’s the ultimate victory. What a day and what a night at Coors Field.
Well done, Chad Bettis. Not only for your pitching on Monday night but for every day of these last few months, giving us all inspiration and hope that better days are always ahead.