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The Troy Tulowitzki trade broke my heart

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Today is the saddest day of my life that didn't involve someone I'm close to dying. It hurts that much.

Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

If you're looking for analysis regarding the Troy Tulowitzki trade and the players the Rockies got in return, this article is not for you. I'm not ready to go there, and quite frankly, I'm not sure I ever will be.

So if you're looking for that type of reaction, I'd suggest you look to another article we have here on the site.

What you will find here is a fan's purely emotional reaction to his favorite player getting traded from his favorite team. I'm not really sure how some things made it in here and some things were taken out, but I tried to keep it around 2,000 words. It may be a bit messy, but messy is a good reflection of how my emotions are assembled right now.

Perhaps the pitchers the Rockies got back will one day be able to replace the value lost from a franchise player, but I doubt they'll ever be able to fill the gaping hole in my heart left behind by this Tulo trade.

All I know for sure is that this is the hardest thing I've ever had to write. I cried the entire time composing it. The Troy Tulowitzki trade broke my heart.

* * * * * * * *

There's nothing special about how I learned Troy Tulowitzki was traded to the Blue Jays. I saw this tweet in my timeline about a minute after it was posted, confirmed it was Rosenthal's real account, and then wondered what to do next. As it turned out, I wouldn't have a choice.

It was at precisely this moment I got a lesson on what the phrase "my heart sank" really means. I've had sinking feelings at emotional moments in my life before, but never like this. Upon confirming the news, it literally felt like a trap door opened up at the bottom of my chest, plunging my heart through my stomach, out of my body, and (presumably) into a million shattered pieces somewhere on the floor.

I might have tried to catch it, but I was frozen  not just in disbelief, but in sadness.

Before my brain would allow my body to do anything else, I broke down and just started weeping. By this, I mean I just broke as a person and was unable to function for a little while. I didn't even try to stop it. I was too shaken to even give that an attempt. My entire baseball world was destroyed.

None of my baseball dreams of Troy Tulowitzki playing meaningful games late in the season for the Rockies at any point this decade are going to come true.

I'll stop crying at some point, but I don't know when that will be yet.

2005 Draft

I remember the first time Troy Tulowitzki entered my life. It was draft day 2005, and I didn't even know how to pronounce his name.

Growing up in a family of Red Sox fans and their 2004 championship seeming like the end of a journey, I chose the Rockies as my National League team because I wanted to watch a club build from within. Tulowitzki was the first part of that building process I was introduced to, and I was instantly hooked.

This was before Twitter, before I knew Purple Row existed, and before the internet flexed the muscles it has today. I was just a high school kid waiting for news to come in a more delayed form. It was a different way to be a fan from afar, but it worked for where I was in my Rockies journey at that point.

I tracked the Tulo signing through the old Rockies.com site and his progress in Modesto and Tulsa through box scores. Since those days, so much has changed since in both my life and the world, but the one major constant was always Troy Tulowitzki and the joy tracking his progress brought to my newfound Rockies fandom.

Even as the major league team was terrible, Tulo was something to dream on. Now, that dream is dead. Not being able to watch him as a Rockie anymore is a devastating blow.

2007

The memories here are far too extensive to cover in a broad reflection piece like this.

The triple play, the defense he played that season, the double in the 13th off Hoffman in that epic Game 163, and now I have to stop myself before I keep going.There's just too much to count here, so I won't even try, but any Rockies fan who experienced this knows how special it was and the role Tulo played in it. (Feel free to share these or any other Tulo memories in the comments.)

In a weird way, it's rather appropriate Tulo was traded with LaTroy Hawkins in this deal, as together (even though Hawkins left and came back) they represented the last thread to that glorious fall. This was like seeing a beloved candle get blown out for the last time.

There's no more on field links to that run on this roster. It now exists only in our memory.

A Rockie for life

I wish I could go back to the night of November 29th, 2010. That's the night news broke of Tulo signing his ten year extension.

Not only did a still young Troy Tulowitzki just flirt with the best September of all time at the plate, but he also wanted to make it clear that he wanted to play for the Rockies for his entire career. He wasn't some self-absorbed star only counting down the days before he could hit free agency, he was a guy who wanted to be part of a story where he helped transform the Rockies into a winning franchise, and he had the tools and attitude to be part of it  if only the Rockies surrounded him with some pitching.

He was everything I wanted in a player: A ferocious competitor, a superstar you could build around, an incredibly hard worker who took prospects under his wing in the offseason, and a guy who understood how special it was for a fanbase to attach itself to a player who plays his entire career in one city.

As Tulo said in his press conference after signing that deal, "I want to give Rockies fans someone they know they can love." (You did Tulo, you did)

This was Rockies utopia!

How could we have possibly known how wrong things would go from there? How could we have known that the Rockies would not only never play another playoff game with Tulo (and most likely Cargo for that matter now too), but that they wouldn't ever play a meaningful game in August or September with him on the roster again either. How could we have known how empty the promises of that winter would turn out? It's almost too cruel to even ponder.

And yet, if I could, I would go back to that moment in time so I could feel the joy I felt that night one more time not knowing what was ahead. Even if it meant having to sit through the last four and a half years of horrendous baseball again, I'd do it just so I could experience the thought of Troy Tulowitzki playing meaning baseball for the Rockies at sometime in the future. I want to be able to have that hope again.

Last night's trade has taken that dream and crushed it like eggshells on an interstate, and it's created a hole in my baseball soul that may never heal. The fact that the Rockies couldn't even surround this treasure with enough talent to give him one season of meaningful baseball beyond July in a Rockies uniform - ONE SEASON - after signing this deal is something I may never be able to forgive them for.

An under appreciated star

Tulo took us on one hell of a ride, but at the same time, he's probably one of the most misunderstood athletes in Denver sports history.

As losing seasons mounted along with time on the DL, some fans started to label him as soft and question his character, and I always found that frustrating. If only they knew how bad Tulo burns to play in every game, how much the club had to plead with him to take his off days for years, how much work he puts in every day just so he can take the field, and how badly he wanted this to work as a Rockie.

It hurts beyond words to see this fail. Here's a guy who worked his tail off and did everything humanly possible to give this franchise a star to build around, and circumstance made it impossible. This isn't how it's supposed to work.

Casual fans of this team will never know just how close the city came to having a sports character they could idolize forever. They'll never see what it was like to watch him play meaningful baseball as the veteran leader of a young improving team. They'll never get to see this potential Hall of Famer end his career in celebratory fashion the way it did for Helton.

There was so much more I wanted to see him do in a Rockies uniform. So many more pieces I wanted to write about why we should appreciate this player so much, and so many more memories to make.

I'm not ready to say goodbye. Not like this.

The greatest day of my life

Not many people get to meet their heroes. Fewer get to meet them and not be disappointed.

On September 24th, 2013, I got to do both when Tulo took me and three other lucky Purple Row members - Andrew Fisher, prettyinpurple, and jrockies (first, fourth, and fifth respectively in the picture below) - on a tour of Coors Field as part of a Stand Up 2 Cancer package.

Tulo tour

I was standing on the steps of the dugout when Tulo first approached us from the field side of the railing. As you can see from the image, I'm already pretty short to start, so standing a step below Tulo made me feel like an ant looking up at a skyscraper.

"Hi, I'm Troy," Tulo said in a friendly voice as he reached out to shake my hand.

I think I mustered a "Hi I'm.. Matt", but it was pretty weak. It's the only time in my entire life I was, and probably ever will be starstruck. It's an emotion I'll never forget and cherish the rest of my life.

Tulo then took us on an unforgettable journey (that I probably shouldn't get too in depth about in this piece since I'm already fighting 2,000 words) through the clubhouse where we got to see everything from the weight room, to the equipment area, to the video room, to where the food is prepared.

What impressed me most about Tulo is how he knew everyone, no matter how small their role, on a first name basis and joked with them in his typical deadpan humor that can only come from a relationship that's been built over time. He truly treated everyone he ran into that day like family, including me.

Now, the only baseball family he's ever known at the major league level is no more.

Damn this is all kinds of awful to swallow.

Thanks Tulo!

I'm not ready to say goodbye to Troy Tulowitzki in a Rockies uniform, but I'll always be ready to say "Thank You."

If you're reading this Tulo, and I have a feeling that you probably are, Thanks for everything you've done during your tenure here.

It's not much, but I can say from the bottom of my broken baseball fan heart that it wouldn't hurt this much if it wasn't for all the joy you consistently brought to the diehard fans during your time in Colorado.

Garth Brooks communicated this better than I ever could in his 1989 song titled "The Dance"

"And now I'm glad I didn't know
The way it all would end, the way it all would go
Our lives are better left to chance, I could have missed the pain
But I'd have had to miss the dance"

I could've avoided these tears that are falling right now, but I'm glad I didn't, because without them, I never get to experience what it was like to have Troy Tulowitzki as my favorite player all these years.

WHAT A RIDE!

I'm just not sure I'll ever be able to accept that it's over.

Godspeed, Tulo. Godspeed.