Sunday, October 6, 2013

Pic of the Week

Todd Helton acknowledges the ovation
in Los Angeles before his final at-bat.
A goodly number of players, whether they know it or not, saw their major league careers end last month. The Ozzie Guillen line comes to mind: "Good players retire. Bad players get released. I got released."

Todd Helton, like Mariano Riveria and Andy Pettitte, retired, only with a lot less fanfare and publicity. Of course, Helton spent his career in Denver, not in the Big Apple.

Hitting numbers are and always will be inflated by Coors Field (or, more accurately, by the altitude in Denver), but Helton is the best player the Rockies have had in their short history. He ends his 17-year career with a slash line of .316/.414/.539. Taken at face value, his stats would not be an embarrassment to the Hall of Fame, but I don't think he's going to get there.

I find this coincidence intriguing: Helton was a quarterback at the University of Tennessee. As a junior in 1994, he inherited the starting job when the starter was injured. Three weeks later, Helton himself was injured, and a true freshman stepped into the lineup. That was Peyton Manning. And Helton's career path to baseball rather than football was set.

Today, of course, as Helton's career ends, Manning is the quarterback in the city where Helton spent his career. Manning, in a sense, was there for the beginning and the end.

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