WolfMarauder and RIRF , well really all of Purple Row, have inspired me today. This started out as a simple response but I guess I had more to say than I realized...I hope you'll stick with it. :)
I'm heart-broken that Brad Hawpe is no longer a Rockie. It's stupid and emotional and I thought I need to think about why.
I've thought, is it because he's a damn fine looking man with broad shoulders and a cute toushie and drives a Shelby Mustang(swoons)? That's probably 10% of it. But no, it's because of what he represents about baseball and life. Never stop trying. Believe in yourself and never stop trying.
And as you all know, I think baseball IS life. It's promising. It's romantic. It's hopeful. It's uplifting and soul-crushing.
It's a simple, yet complex game. If you keep your eye on the ball, keep your head clear, you just might hit that life-changing homerun. If you blink at the wrong time, you strike out. If you think ahead, maybe you have the winning strategy. And yet, you might overthink and lose everything. (Funny thing, the other team is doing the same thing).
It's elegant and personal. You see the players faces. They are not hidden under helmets and padding, well, except the catcher, but even he takes those off when batting, catching pop-ups and protecting the pitcher during fights. You see their expressions and emotions during the game. The opposing players talk to each other and it's not just trash talk. They laugh, smile, argue. They get frustrated and furious. They celebrate with abandon.
And they always keep trying. There is no clock that says it's time to stop trying. You try until you can't because someone else tried a little harder or thought a little faster or blinked at the wrong moment or caught the better break at the right moment.
By now, I'm sure you're thinking, that's all great, but what does this have to do with Brad Hawpe? He represents all that I love about baseball and the challenge of life. A good guy that made good, because he kept trying and believed in himself. And the Colorado Rockies. And he made me believe any one can make it even if you don't have EVERYTHING it takes. Humble, stable, loyal but not a pushover, grateful and hard working.
He was a great high school pitcher and 1B. Not necessarily a perfect athlete. He led his team to a Texas State Championship. He wasn't gifted with a perfect swing, or superior speed. But he loved baseball. He wanted to play for LSU. But they weren't calling him. He called them (after listening to his mom, sooo cute). And gets a tryout. He makes the team and helps lead them to the College World Series.
Eventually, he's drafted by the Rockies and has a good shot at being the Rockies next starting 1B. But guess who's in front of him? Todd Helton. (That really had to suck). In order to stay with club and keep playing, he accepts a move to RF. He didn't possess the natural tools, speed and agility to play that position, but was blessed with one thing. An arm that is, really, a friggin' cannon with a laser sight. He did his best to make the most of that opportunity. I suspect he knew had weaknesses but went out there everyday and kept trying to improve himself.
And damn, if all that trying didn't pay off. Along comes 2007. And he finds himself in the middle of the most insane scramble to the World Series of all time. Not just by being a part of the team. But being an integral part of the team. Without his dead center homerun at Petco Park(yes PETCO PARK) at night in the 14th inning Sept 21, 2007, most likely, there is no Game 163. He went from trying to make it in the big leagues to a World Series. He wasn't the best player on the team, but somehow he managed to come through when we needed it and made me believe that we could carry on.
And last season, he became an All-Star. And, thisclose to being the MVP of that All-Star Game, if not for Carl Crawford(/shaking fist). Why? Because he never stopped trying. Even this season, he was willing to accept a move to 1B if needed, to keep playing the game he loves. All the while, probably looking over his shoulder, wondering if he should stop trying. The organization told him he could sit on the bench. But he couldn't do that, because Brad Hawpe IS a baseball player. He can and should keep playing. I respect him immensely for not accepting the opportunity to stop trying.
Thank you Brad Hawpe, for being my favorite Rockie. Ever.