Denver, CO. The end of this season will mark the 20th in Colorado Rockies franchise history, and unfortunately will go down as one of their worst ever. After preseason aspirations of playing meaningful baseball well into August and September, this season has been full of awful pitching, poor defense, and a few injuries here and there. One of those injuries belongs to Todd Helton, who as all Rockies fans know, will not return in 2012. Since the middle of 1997, Todd Helton has been wearing the purple and black, and been one of the best hitters in all of baseball. As he is currently recovering from season ending hip surgery, he turns 39 years old today. Helton has said he does want to come back and play next year, and his early rehab is already going well. But as a long time Colorado Rockies fan, I simply hope Todd rethinks this. A birthday is a perfect time to reflect on things, and for Todd Helton, he should ponder the idea of hanging up his glove and calling it a career now.
The idea of the greatest player in Colorado Rockies history ending his career because of injury is not a pleasant thought. I get that. This happens too many times in sports. So many legends throughout the years, in all sports, have unfortunately had to do so. For some guys, it has actually ended on the field, which is about the worst way it can end for any athlete. But for Todd Helton, who has struggled with back issues for years, and now hip problems, this is the perfect time to end his fantastic 16 year career. It has become obvious in the last year or so that he is nowhere near the player he used to be. This season, even when healthy, he had trouble approaching a .250 batting average. This, from a guy who has a career .320 average, is a huge sign that it’s time to call it quits. His defense, even up until this year, has been absolutely outstanding. His glove is one of the best ever in history of the game at first base. He is, and has been, the heart and soul of this organization for so long now, that it will be hard for die-hard Colorado Rockies fans to think of anyone else playing first base at Coors Field. But it’s time. His skills have been slipping for a few years now, and the team simply cannot count on him at this point to be their first baseman in 2013. If he sticks to his guns, and comes back next year, what are the chances that he will be any good? I mean, when he was healthy this year, he was hitting .238. The odds are against him, and father time is not in his favor. As unfortunate as it would be for him and his fans, leaving the game for good now seems to be a bad way to go out. But, do we all really wanna see him back next year, struggling to even hit .220? As a Rockies fan, I don’t wanna see it, and Todd Helton should understand this scenario would be a distinct possibility.
No future players in the Colorado Rockies organization will ever wear the #17. That number will be retired immediately after Todd Helton does decide to call it a career, and rightly so. Helton will be considered for the Hall of Fame one day, as his career statistics are extremely impressive. He is 39 today, and as we have all seen, not been the player he used to be for a few years now. This hip injury should be a wakeup call that this offseason is the right time for Todd put a bow on a fabulous career in a Colorado Rockies uniform. In this era of free agency, it is very rare that a player of his caliber stays with one franchise for as long as he has. He has been a complete class act on and off the field, and one of the greatest players in Colorado sports history. No player wants to go out this way, allowing an injury to dictate when their playing days are over. But does anyone, including him, want to see him struggling at the game that he mastered and dominated for so long? I know I don’t. I honestly hope Todd rethinks this, and doesn’t come back next year. This is the perfect time to move on, and allow the Rockies to move on as well. A retirement announcement this winter should be the plan, not rehabbing from another injury just to be a shell of his former self as he approaches the age of 40.
Denver Sports by J Simp