“It was kind of that kid at Christmas (feeling) last night. Had a hard time sleeping.”
That’s how 38-year old Matt Holliday described his feelings about being back in the Rockies’ clubhouse. Since he signed a minor-league contract in July, Rockies fans have been counting the days until his return. It could have happened at another time, either earlier or later. But it happened now. That’s worth dwelling on.
Here are 10 reasons why this was the perfect time for Holliday to rejoin his former team.
1. The Padres were in town
This isn’t to troll the Padres, who’ve had a tough 50-80 go of it in 2018, but Jeff Bridich could not have chosen a more perfect game. Rockies fans spent the day reliving the 2007 slide — yes, of course, he touched home plate — and it was wonderful.
2. The Cardinals are coming to town
After Holliday left the Rockies, he went to the Cardinals. There’s a certain symmetry to his facing his old team this weekend. Plus, this will be an important series against a red-hot team, so Holliday’s return will be timely. And it leads to great tweets from the Cards like this one:
This is fun. See you this weekend, Matt! https://t.co/BWi64o4a3E— St. Louis Cardinals (@Cardinals) August 23, 2018
3. Bud Black has time to adjust
There has been speculation for awhile that Buddy, coach of the Padres when Holliday touched home plate, might have trouble adjusting to having Holliday back in the clubhouse. As Black said after being hired as the Rockies’ manager, “To this day, I don’t think he’s touched it. He’s a fine player.” Now, they’ve got time to shake it off and move on.
4. The Rockies need another right-handed bat
We’ve heard this for months: The Rockies need another hitter. Holliday stands out in a sea of Rockies left-handed outfielders. The right-handed bat that everyone worried about has arrived.
5. Holliday was destroying Isotopes Park
Perhaps you’ve seen the video where Holliday hit a home run that rattled the scoreboard? After 15 starts with the ‘Topes and more than 60 plate appearances, it was clear that Holliday had mastered MiLB ball. He left ABQ with a 1.055 OPS and a .455 on-base percentage. It was, as #RockiesTwitter puts it, time for a MUP.
6. Nolan wanted it
Yesterday, Nolan told told Nick Groke, “I want him here.” What Nolan wants, Nolan gets. His instincts have been right so far (e.g., the return of Carlos González).
7. Chris Iannetta gets to feel younger
Here’s what Iannetta tweeted after the announcement of Holliday’s arrival.
You wake up and check Twitter.... the feeling when find out your not the oldest guy on the team anymore... Thanks Matt! @Rockies pic.twitter.com/VGgdxQfAGX— Chris Iannetta (@Chris_Iannetta) August 23, 2018
Chris, you’re 35, and you’ve put in a long season. Hopefully, there’s more to come. So if this helps, we’re all for it.
8. Batting titles
The Rockies now have on their roster four winners of the NL Batting Title: Holliday, Carlos González, DJ LeMahieu, and Charlie Blackmon. When you’re looking at making the playoffs, you can never have too many batting titles.
9. Interleague play
The Rockies are playing the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim next week, in Anaheim. A visit to an AL stadium will give Holliday steady at bats for a two-game series without having to play in the outfield or at first base. (David Dahl and Ryan McMahon need to as much playing time as they can get.)
10. Mythology matters
The Rockies are hot and competing for a playoff spot. Holliday’s addition to the roster now means he’ll be eligible for the postseason roster, should the Rockies make it. Moreover, Holliday contributes to the mix of experienced-and-newer players that Bridich likes to work with. But Matt Holliday is more than a right-handed bat. He’s also a key part of Rocktober mythos, and having him in the clubhouse makes that mythology real. Yes, this is a young team with players like Arenado, Freeland, Gray, Márquez, Anderson, McMahon, and Dahl. But this team also has a playoff history, and Matt Holliday embodies it.
Besides, maybe there’s still a piece of his chin near home plate that will bring good October fortune.