Dejected about one of my favorite players leaving the Rockies, I became inspired to look back to the day of the first baseball game I had watched in years, back in June 2006, before I had any real interest in following a baseball team. This is my report on the findings.
The story of Friday, June 30th, 2006
Joe Beimel watched from the bullpen as his newest team, the Dodgers, beat their crosstown rivals in Anaheim, while designated hitter Jason Giambi helped his New York Yankees defeat their crosstown rivals, the Mets, in Yankee Stadium with a solo home run in a low scoring 2-0 win. It wasn't the only 2-0 win that would happen today.
Cardinals reliever Randy Flores pitched a clean inning at home against the Royals. He was credited with a hold, though his team would eventually blow the game.
Orioles third baseman Melvin Mora was hitting second and playing third base in Atlanta. His went 0-4, and his team lost.
Miguel Olivo, in his first year with Florida, had the day off in favor of Matt Treanor as the Marlins took on the Red Sox in Miami.
Reigning AL Rookie of the Year Huston Street was having another good season. He was on a down note, however, as he'd blown his sixth save of the year the previous day in San Diego, though neither of the 2 runs he gave up were earned. The A's had returned home to face the Diamondbacks, and Street got some rest as they lost 6-4.
Rafael Betancourt pitched for the Indians at Cincinnati and was saddled with 4 earned runs (2 home runs) without getting a single out, one of the worst outings of his career. Across the stadium, Matt Belisle, called up just earlier in the week, stood in his home bullpen in Cincinnati as his team roughed up Betancourt to tie for the division lead at the time.
After making the team out of Spring Training initially, Jason Hammel was on optional assignment with Tampa Bay's AAA Durham Bulls. He started the first game of a double header in Scranton Wilkes-Barre two days prior and had pitched well. The Bulls had come back home to take on Norfolk for the weekend.
Jorge De La Rosa was with the Huntsville Stars, Milwaukee's AA affiliate, on rehab assignment for a blistered finger. He'd started the day before and threw four clean innings. Milwaukee had seen enough of DLR's struggles, however, and he would never pitch for them again. After his injury was healed, he would be traded to the Kansas City Royals.
At just 20 years old, outfielder Carlos Gonzalez was having a stellar season for the A+ Lancaster JetHawks in their final year in service for Arizona. He was playing right field and hitting third for the JetHawks, and went 4-5 with a double and two RBI against visiting Bakserfield.
An 18 year old Jhoulys Chacin was playing his first year of professional baseball in the Dominican Republic, on his way to a fantastic season that would send him shooting through the system, while a 20 year old Esmil Rogers was two starts into his first season of American baseball with the then-named Casper Rockies, who were getting creamed in Idaho Falls this day.
The A level Asheville Tourists pulled out a victory at home against Hickory. Soon-to-be-hyped outfield prospect Dexter Fowler led off and played center field (singled, walked, stole two bases and struck out twice). Right behind him in the 2 hole was second baseman Jr. (single, double, walk, stolen base).
A+ Modesto reliever Matt Daley, in the middle of a good season, was fresh off a clean inning pitched against San Jose in a loss the previous day
As the Tulsa Drillers were on the road facing Arkansas, Seth Smith led off in RF and went 4 for 5 with two doubles and a solo HR. Ian Stewart was hitting fourth, and went 1 for 5. Phenom shortstop Troy Tulowitzki was not playing, however, as he was on the DL recovering from a knee injury.
After dominating AA Tulsa early in the season, young reliever Manuel Corpas was just stretching his legs at AAA Colorado Springs, not aware he would be called up to the big show mere weeks later. He watched a fellow AA promotion, starter Ubaldo Jimenez, struggle his way through 6 runs in 5.1 innings in his AAA debut. Catching him was yet another young AA promotion, catcher Chris Iannetta, who hit fifth and had a solo home run.
Starting pitchers Aaron Cook and Jeff Francis watched from the dugout as teammate Josh Fogg threw a wizard of a game against the Seattle Mariners. Fogg faced the 27 batter minimum, producing one of the best pitching performances in team history, then and today.
Clint Barmes, the Rockies' starting shortstop one year removed from his infamous venison incident, was involved in two of the three double plays that allowed this to happen. Barmes, who was struggling mightily at the plate with a .207 seasonal average, was batting second and went 0-3 with a walk.
A healthy Todd Helton, batting .303, played 1B , hit third and went 0-3 with a walk.
Ryan Spilborghs, who had not yet established himself with a full time job with the Rockies, was up with the team. He hit sixth and played LF in this game while Matt Holliday was on AL ruled DH duties, and went 0-4.
And then there was Brad Hawpe, having a good first half like he often did. Playing right field and hitting seventh in the lineup, he hit a solo home run to account for one of the two runs in the game. All while I watched the Rockies for the first time in several years.
Baseball is a game of movement, changes in location and in allegiance. Four years and two months ago, these people were scattered across the continent. On August 18th, they comprised the active roster and associated DL placements of one major league team. On August 19th, one left.
With Brad Hawpe gone, five players from my "baseball initiation team" remain here. I found the process of picking this arbitrary day and seeing where our current team was both frightening and comforting. It truly highlights the desperate mechanisms in my psychology producing the desire to hang onto the here and now for dear life. But any one of these moments is just one step along the way. June 30 '06, Hawpe helped bring me into baseball. August 18 '10, he helped remind me why I'm still here. And it's not because every team stays intact. It's just the opposite.
As I posted this, Randy Flores became the second casualty. Their replacements, Matt Reynolds and Jonathan Herrera have stories too. And when they leave, so will their replacements. And people call me crazy when I say I enjoy baseball because it's cinematic.
Links after the jump.
As was noted by David OhNo via Twitter Wednesday night and Andrew T. Fisher in yesterday's Pebble Report, LHP prospect Christian Friedrich left the AA Tulsa game Wednesday. Here is Tulsa World's Kevin Henry on the game. The official diagnosis appears to be a "strained lat muscle". This has been Friedrich's first professional year he didn't ace; he's had multiple injuries and mechanical struggles to overcome. However, a blemish on his record though it may be, Friedrich has bounced back from every setback, and if he didn't have so many, I'm confident he'd have collected himself by now. He still belongs near the top of players to be excited about in development on the farm.
Scan Evan Drellich of MLB.com's Rockies newsroll for some player reactions on Brad Hawpe's recent departure and injury updates on Carlos Gonzalez and our injured pitchers.
Pete Yost of the Associated Press runs down the Roger Clemens indictment, available through the Denver Post.
Finally, Fangraphs has posted two articles relevant to the Rockies: Joe Pawlikowski discusses Brad Hawpe and Bryan West considers the final draft results for the NL West teams. He ranks the Rockies as his favorite draft in the division.