This won't be the last time I ever write about Todd Helton, but it will be the last time I do so when he is an active member of the Colorado Rockies. In case you haven't been paying any attention at all to the Rockies, tonight marks Helton's final game at Coors Field. The fans (at least the ones not cheering for the Red Sox) will be out in force to honor No. 17 as he takes his final few MLB swings in the state of Colorado.
As Drew wrote on Monday, Coors Field will be a big talking point when people are discussing Helton's legacy -- particularly as it relates to the Hall of Fame. I'm not going to write about the Hall of Fame today, simply because a) it will be five years before this conversation is germane and b) I probably wouldn't vote for him, and now's not the time to talk about why, not when we should be celebrating Helton's excellent career with the Rockies.
Specifically, I'd like to reminisce about Helton's career at home. After all, most of you that saw Helton play live probably saw him play at Coors Field. It's also where Helton had the lion's share of his success. Here's a look at Helton's home/road splits:
Holy cow, Helton was great at Coors Field. Even on the road his 856 OPS would have made him an excellent player (his overall OPS+, which adjusts for park, is 132 -- meaning he's been 32% better than average throughout his career), but his .345/.441/.606 home batting line is simply exquisite. Enough about stats though -- I want to write briefly about the memories that Helton has created at Coors Field.
Helton's final home game tonight will be an emotional event for Rockies fans -- many of whom spent their formative years watching Helton (and not the Blake Street Bombers) represent the Colorado Rockies franchise. I'm not a sentimental guy, but even my cold black heart can embrace and savor this moment for the player that leaps to mind when you think "Colorado Rockies." Helton's played a lot of games in his major league career (2,243 of them entering tonight), all of them for the Rockies -- and during those 2,243 games he's impacted the lives of thousands of Rockies fans great and small.
I know that there are many things in life that are more important than baseball, that it is a diversion, a pastime to while away the leisure hours of a day. Still, it's a diversion that brings joy and happiness to millions, playing a meaningful role in the daily lives of families across our great land. Todd Helton has been a daily part of the lives of thousands of families for the past 17 years -- and while the world won't stop turning when he retires, it's going to be more than a little strange for those families to tune in to watch their favorite team and not see Helton on the field, leading the Rockies to victory.
Jordan did a great job last week in bringing my favorite Helton moment to life: the walkoff homer off of Takashi Saito in September 2007. Watch the video of the homer in that linked story -- go ahead, I'll wait. I was at that game -- and the Helton homer ensured that this particular game would be the best I've ever attended. A mere two weeks later, Helton played a role in game 163, the greatest game I've ever seen (I wrote about my experience at both games in my first ever FanPost almost five years ago).
There are a lot more where those came from. The beautiful thing is that everyone has many Todd Helton memories to choose from -- whether they be watching him smack a homer on a sunny day at Coors Field, making a fantastic scoop at first base, or raising his arms in triumph because the Rockies were going to the World Series. Of course, now when I think of Todd I won't be able to avoid thinking about him as a majestic centaur set against a sunset over the Rocky Mountains.
Whatever your favorite Helton memory is, I encourage you to celebrate a career well played tonight, whether in person or in spirit.