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In every baseball season there are moments: segments of time when you realize you’re watching something special. Sports are like that. They’re hours of stopping, standing, jogging, and pausing just waiting for a moment.
Moments are sometimes tough to decipher immediately. Sometimes it’s a five game winning streak that you look back and realize all started with a clutch single. Other times, these moments are loud and impossible to miss.
Sunday afternoon, the Rockies very obviously had a moment.
A home run, a cycle, a walk-off are all exciting in their own way and all three combined obviously transcend what we know about excitement. But for Nolan Arenado to accomplish it is when you begin to use the word “legendary”.
For me, Sunday’s moment carried with it a sudden realization. Nolan Arenado is the superstar we always dreamed of having.
This is nothing against Todd Helton or Troy Tulowitzki or even Larry Walker before them. All three were tremendous players, all three were deserved stars.
Fans are fickle: they don’t just want you to be good, they want you to love them back at the exact same level they love you. They don’t just want you to be with them, they want you to BE THEM, but better. It’s unfair. It’s a pipe dream we all internally share, but it is the nature of being a superstar, a nature some superstars have a tough time accepting. They just want to play the game they love and that should be enough. It’s unfair and irrational to expect anything different, but what are fans if not unfair and irrational actors?
As Nolan rounded second on Sunday, he put his arms out straight and just left them. He clearly had no idea what to do with himself. It appeared half of him wanted to throw his arms up, kneel down at second base, and soak every little thing in and the other half of him realized he had to touch home and finish this thing.
There, in that moment, was when the connection felt strongest. Here’s this elite human being who just accomplished something so extraordinary even he can’t come to terms with it. In his strongest moment, where even I began to question if he was more God than man, he did something that I would’ve done. He became completely detached from the reality of his accomplishment. For a split second, Nolan did what literally everyone watching was doing: he refused to believe it just happened.
Nolan is the superstar we dreamed of because in his moment, he was one of us. He was all of us.
It’s cliché and tired to say an athlete “put a city on his back” or that one “helped the city through its tough times.” Denver is very clearly not going through any tough times and Nolan’s presence at Coors is not putting any city anywhere.
In Nolan’s moment, it didn’t feel like Nolan put us on his back, it felt like Nolan walked with us into delirium. Nolan unlocked the gates to Utopia but he didn’t guide us to the doorstep. Nolan is the superstar we asked for because he refuses to stop feeling like one of us.
Work ethic, skills, talent. These are all things every superstar has. Todd had them, Tulo had them. Nolan isn’t special because of these things. No, Nolan is special because even with these things, he reminds us he’s human enough to enjoy them too. When 48,000 fans erupted on Father’s Day, Nolan erupted too. He stuck his hands out and couldn’t decide if he wanted to be the reason we cheered or the one cheering.
Whatever happens, June 18 will always be a moment for the fans. Nolan among them.
★ ★ ★
Please vote for Tony Wolters in the MLB All-Star Game
Folks, if you follow me on Twitter you’ve probably seen that I have been tasked by the Rockies in helping get Tony Wolters voted into the All-Star Game.
Despite my best efforts of MS Paint jobs and outstanding videos, Tony has still yet to crack the top five in All-Star voting. Come on, guys!
Tony may not be the flashiest player but he certainly is the best (looking). Let’s get Tony elected to the All-Star game.
If nothing else, do it because you love me and think I’m the best (looking).