Thursday Rockpile: More Helton DUI reaction, and Rockies minor league development revamp takes shape

Doug Pensinger

The Rockies Todd Helton was arrested on suspicion of DUI Wednesday morning, so now it's interesting to take a look at how the story is playing out among Rockies fans and the media. Also, the Rockies have added a new position to all their minor league staffs, but will it help with player development?

Westword's take on the Todd Helton matter probably comes about as close to my own opinion as any, so I'll just have you read that. Okay, so there are a couple of things I wish to add.

I do find it interesting that our response as fans to situations like this more or less responds to the player's prowess on the field on behalf of our beloved franchise (or hoped for prowess, as the Alex White and Drew Pomeranz responses last year showed.) Had it been Jonathan Sanchez's first DUI we were reading about, the Rockies fan community on the whole, and Mark Kiszla, would likely be far less forgiving. Think of Denny Neagle, who couldn't be pushed out of town fast enough for a mistake that could only harm himself and his own family, not potentially take the lives of innocent bystanders like Helton's error. Of course, it's not just a sports thing that will make communities respond in this way, if somebody's deemed a productive and valuable community member they'll often be granted multiple passes for transgression.

Two, because of his fading status with the team, an underlying media narrative also begins to emerge of Helton as the drunken faded warrior that cleans up his act, a stock character often found in Westerns and cop films. Dennis Hopper's character from Hoosiers would be another example:

We seem to have a psychological investment in redemption stories, so it could be interesting to see what kind of narratives come out at the end of the season regarding the DUI should Helton have a bounce-back season. Tuesday night remains a poor, dangerously negligent and potentially deadly decision on Helton's part, but the way it will be framed in the future could well depend on something that should be irrelevant to the issue, Helton's play on the field in 2013. I actually don't know if this is a bad thing, or some way our societies have evolved to protect those members we deem most valuable and thereby protect our societies themselves. It's an interesting social anthropology question at the very least.

It's difficult to find non-Helton Rockies related news this morning, but one interesting story from Tulsa shows some of the changes that Dan O'Dowd seems to be putting in place to revamp the Rockies minor league development operation. Included in this revamp is a new position for each affiliate, Development Superviser. For Tulsa, the person for that job would be Duane Espy. To quote the Rockies press release that was included with the article:

The Development Supervisors will serve as leaders in communication, so that consistency and continuity of organizational philosophies, execution, standards and expectations exist from level to level. In addition, the Development Supervisors will creatively seek out solutions to issues and challenges, so that we establish a foundation of winning with a focus on the professional and personal development of our players.

As has been noted here, the Rockies player development operation has seemingly fallen behind other division rivals. I'm not sure if the solution to the problem will be to throw more bureaucracy at it, but the idea of keeping consistent organizational practices and standards from level to level won't hurt. The next question, of course, would be why this wasn't happening before without the added DS's.

Off-topic

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