It’s always nice when good things happen to good people.
That’s a thing we often forget as sports fans while mostly just being concerned about whether our favorite team wins or if the players we idolize perform well. There are legitimately good, nice, solid people involved in these games that we enjoy watching so much. And those people are doing this not always because they enjoy playing as much as we enjoy watching. A lot of times, they’re doing it because it’s their livelihood.
Colorado Rockies catcher Michael McKenry is the perfect example of a person who plays sports because of both of those reasons. McKenry, the ultimate team player – and one considered to be a type who is at this level more because of his effort and work ethic than anything else – doesn’t always enjoy the thing he does for a living, as he said after the game on Wednesday (via MLB.com's Dargan Southard):
"Sometimes life is trying to bring you down. You just got to stay on the grind and keep your head up and keep going. Sometimes the escalator is going down and you're running up. That's how it's felt sometimes this year, but you just got to keep going."
But moments such as the one that happened minutes before McKenry said those words seem to make it all worthwhile. The Rockies’ backup catcher, after a tough day that included striking out with the tying run on third base in the bottom of the ninth inning, launched a two-run home run in the home half of the 11th, sending his middling club to a dramatic 7-5 victory over the Seattle Mariners.
The win doesn’t mean much in the grand scheme of things for the Rockies, who at 45-61, simply managed to avoid being swept at home by a mediocre team. It does, however, mean the world to McKenry, who accomplished the feat of hitting a walk-off homer for the first time in his major league career.
And because of that, it means a lot to his manager.
"[He’s] somebody who comes to the park everyday worried about the team first," Walt Weiss told reporters after the game. "It's good to see those guys have a moment of glory. That's a big-time hit."
McKenry's heroics were just part of yet another game that featured a ton of heart by a Rockies team that has plenty of that, even if it's short on talent -- especially on the pitching side of things. After Colorado fell into a 3-0 hole, Carlos Gonzalez tied the game on a rocket of a three-run homer that very well might have put a hole in the back wall of the visitor's bullpen.
Seattle reclaimed the lead on Franklin Gutierrez's two-run homer off of the struggling John Axford, but the Rockies stormed back in the bottom of the ninth with run-scoring hits from Ben Paulsen and Kyle Parker to tie the game, 5-5.
Though the offense -- including McKenry, whose 414-foot blast sent a modest weekday afternoon crowd home happy -- deserves all the credit it's receiving for fighting back, the Rockies' bullpen deserves some kudos. Particularly Justin Miller, Rafael Betancourt, Tommy Kahnle and Yohan Flande, who combined for 3⅔ innings of scoreless relief in key portions of the game.