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Sunday Rockpile: Honoring Todd Helton

How do you fully honor a man who meant so much to this organization? Well, it starts today, but it shouldn't end there.

Lisa Blumenfeld

Always nice to start the morning with a Patrick Saunders piece. Today he discusses how the new commish, Rob Manfred, could be beneficial to the Rockies even when it comes to matters like our incredibly annoying mascot or the equally nonsensical "Tooth Trot."

Saunders also has some more in-depth info about Troy Tulowitzki's expected recovery time schedule. It should be about five months of recovery and's Thomas Harding told us at yesterday's bloggers panel that this is an issue that had been bothering Tulo for some time so hopefully they can get it all cleaned up in there.

Because it's the Colorado Rockies, we are not allowed to simply celebrate awesome things, so Woody Paige uses Todd Helton's exceptional career as a contrast point to almost everything else the Rockies have done. Always remember that it's not worth being happy about something unless you can also spend most of your time bemoaning all of the ways in which it wasn't perfect.

If you're like me and would prefer this day to be one of fond rememberance and joy, then read this piece from our good buddy Richard Bergstrom over at Rockies Zingers on our no. 17. Bring a box of kleenex.

I'd also like to take this opportunity to link to a piece I wrote on Todd Helton's career peak that I think is a good place to start any Hall-of-Fame conversations. I fiercly believe Helton is a HOFer.

Lastly, because I can, I want to repost in its entirety a love letter I wrote to Helton last season after what turned out to be the last game I ever saw him play in live. Everyone raise your glass to Todd Helton.

We, the diehard fans of Rockies Nation, would like to say thank you. A lot has been written about you this season (and pre-season) and there is certainly more to come. The pundits and talking heads may have decided that you are mostly done being a productive baseball player, but as I sat in the stands Friday night and watched you foul off pitch after pitch before finally hitting a moonshot game-tying home run, I was reminded just how much I love baseball.

I was just a kid when I first heard the name Todd Helton. And I was not a fan. I was a fan of the Big Cat, Andres Galarraga. I was still too young to understand transactions, minor leagues, and the general concepts behind how front offices build teams. So I started off mad and weary of this smooth faced kid who took the place of one of my favorite players. You, dear Toddfather, taught me a great deal about baseball from that point on, and I became a fan.

You taught me about the battle for the strike zone. I learned from watching your at-bats game after game how the hitter can take all the advantages a pitcher has and minimize them by understanding and controlling that little invisible space above the plate. Your discipline, quick hands, and ability to cover the two-strike borderline pitch taught me how fundamentally important each pitch could be and that in baseball, like in life, you can't take anything for granted or it will come back to bite you.

I grew up watching baseball as you grew up playing baseball. You taught a whole new generation what the word "loyalty" means. I am not naive enough to believe you had complete control over this but we all know there were a number of times in your career when you could have forced your way onto another (likely better) team. It is sweet serenity for so many of us that the greatest Rockie of all time wore a CR on his hat every day for 16 years.

I am too young to recall much of the careers of Cal Ripken Jr or Tony Gwynn. I was a fan, but only personally got to see the tail end of their careers. I remember my dad saying something along the lines of "we may never see that again" referring to great players giving their entire careers to one team. I have been to countless Rockies games during the Todd Helton era, however, and personally witnessed a lifetime of memories from the same #17 in that same CR hat.

If Friday night's blast, which literally filled my eyes up with tears, is the last time I see you hit a home run live, I can only say that I will always remember it. I will always remember you flirting with .400. I will always remember "Todd and the toddlers." I will always remember the triple you hit in Philadelphia in your very first post season at-bat after years of waiting. I will always remember you throwing your hands and your head into the air as soon as you caught the throw from Troy Tulowitzki in game 4 of the 2007 NLCS. I may never have been happier for the happiness of another human being I had never met then I was in that moment.

I will always remember that for a good solid decade, you were the reason to buy Rockies tickets.

When you made your MLB debut, I didn't know what a balk was, or even that pitching a ball on purpose (or not swinging at a strike) could be a good thing. Now, at the end of your career, I get to write for a Rockies website filled with some of the most knowledgeable baseball fans I have ever met. And for that, I say thank you.

Thank you for teaching me about the game I love. I will always remember the great Todd Helton.