*****Pure, pure irony, that on the day a Denver columnist pulls out his blade and recommends that it’s time the Rockies bench Todd Helton, undoubtedly “the best player in franchise history,” that Helton individually takes the Braves apart. A perfect 4-for-4, drives in the winning run against the Braves best pitcher, Tim Hudson, who by the way, might think about shaving that new beard. (Ugh! what an ugly growth of hair.)
“Rather than pick up some lumber from the bat rack, he (Helton) should grab some pine on the bench,” harshly wrote Mark Kizla.
Helton is in his 15th season with the Rockies, the most dependable player in their lineup, and it is true, that his batting average has been toned down, and his home run production is down from a high of 49 to 7 at latest count. It’s true, too, that the former Tennessee Vol is 36, but who is there to replace him? Jason Giambi, aged 39.
The columnist’s timing couldn’t have been worse, and Helton’s timing couldn’t have been better.
*****I’ve refrained from bursting into wild exhilaration about Jason Heyward, not that I fear he can’t be the real thing. The fact is, I’m convinced that the best is yet to come.
That he’s just beginning to give a preview, the tip of the iceberg, so to speak. They come and they go, and I’ve seen great prospects flash across the screen, then fall on their swords. I’ve seen Heyward have a night of strikeouts, but it never diminished my expectations.
He doesn’t flip his bat. He doesn’t scuff the dirt and go raging into the dugout. He has struck out before and he’ll do it again. He casually slips his bat in the rack and take his place on the bench. There’ll be another time, another day, another crucial moment, and he’ll be up to it. There is that Henry Aaron calm about him, and that is not a similarity carelessly placed.
What irony, that he should come along in Bobby Cox’s retirement season. I feared, at first, that he might be sent to one of the farm clubs to get the feel of it all, but by this time you know well that the Braves manager wanted him on his side as he checks out. (If he does, and I’m still not sure that’s set in stone.)
No less than a marvel, Jason Heyward. Product of good upbringing and exceptional genes, so stick around and enjoy the show. It’s good for five stars.
*****The most idiotic interview question in sports? Interviewer to athlete: “What was going through your mind?”…….
*****Twice I’ve gone to Turner Field to see Tim Lincecum pitch, and haven’t seen the Giant win yet. His performances have more closely matched his stringy, scrawny appearance. Cy Young winner twice, but last year Adam Wainwright drew more first- place votes….
*****John Smoltz, on latter-day pitching management: “I don’t think you can go on winning constantly with three different guys going the last three innings.” Go get ’em, John!
*****Did you notice, that Tim Tebow signed a contract with his underwear sponsor before he signed with the Broncos?…..I wonder just what the Braves can do with Nate McLouth. Two seasons ago with Pittsburgh, he hit 46 doubles, 26 home runs, drove in 94 runs, and now, he’s struggling to hold his place in the Gwinnett Braves lineup…..
*****The Tiger Woods mystery will never come clear until the world knows what happened between 2-and-2:25 AM that Thanksgiving night in his and Elin’s Florida household, before he crashed his Escalade….