There have been three Rockies covers in Sports Illustrated history on the SI website, and they trigger immediate recollection in poetic, picturesque visual form.
The moments and stories deemed cover-worthy for the Rockies have been of Larry “Humble Hero” Walker in 2001, Jeff Francis in action during the 2007 postseason, and a ‘welcome back’ to Troy Tulowitzki in early summer 2014. There hasn’t been huge representation with only three, but three isn’t too bad either in the grand scheme of things—Sports Illustrated covers far more than baseball.
There are no Rockies on the Sports Illustrated decade top 10 for baseball covers (Only seven MLB teams are represented), but it remains a fun read for all baseball fans aware of the moments that have shaped the past 10 years. These covers incorporate clever wording, exceptional photography and a worthy storyline to go along with it. The aftershocks of the unforgettable resonate well on a cover, as the visuals are able to personify the memories fans cherish more than words alone.
People remember moments. They remember championships, yes, but the singular moments or stretches of a few days that assemble those successful runs are often the memorable details that people truly talk about. Rockies faithful will easily recall Matt Holliday scoring on a sacrifice fly in the 2007 tiebreaker, or Todd Helton’s celebratory arms after the final out of the 2007 NLCS, or even something like Trevor Story hitting bomb after bomb to start 2016—pretty much any moment or streak that left people inspired gets remembered. The best Sports Illustrated covers take these very moments and make them feel tangible, like you could pick them up with your hands.
(The cool thing is, you actually can—and it goes a little something like “Hey! Nice! The mailman brought Sports Illustrated today!”)
Looking at these covers also acts as a time-warp of sorts, like a good medicine for the ills of a long offseason. Such reminiscence is timely for the repeatable Rockies headlines this December—you often have to dig for news other than Nolan Arenado trade rumors and Larry Walker Hall of Fame ballots, in many respects. These covers encapsulate big stories, and the cover allows readers to interpret it through their own eyes. In the spirit of so many people getting to share such definitive moments, these magazine covers are often unrivaled.
There’s some good moments on here, too. Nolan Arenado’s blast atop this list was so good a T-shirt was made of it. The blood on his face supposedly came from Charlie Blackmon’s helmet in the celebration, making it even more iconic.
Todd Helton’s final home run came in his final game at Coors Field. It came in a losing effort to the Red Sox with an anticlimactic final score of 5-15, reasoning for why the dinger is only sixth on the list. There was a packed house for both Helton and the Red Sox in town, and 17’s were appropriately painted on the field in tribute to the retiring first baseman. There wasn’t a real postseason threat in Denver back in September of 2013, but a packed stadium in late September set the table for an iconic blast and a memorable sendoff—a ‘cover-worthy’ moment, by magazine terms.
One notable blast was left off the list: Carlos Gonzalez capped off the cycle with a walk-off home run on July 31, 2010, into the third deck in right field. Colorado was seven games out of the division and five-and-a-half out of the wild card during this game; Arenado’s walk-off to cap a cycle in 2017 came at a time where the Rockies had the best record in the National League, so it’s safe to say the number one is solidified much more, and for more reasons than just the bloody Blackmon-helmet-induced caricature itself.
This article furthers the recurring Arenado or Walker headlines this time of year, but irregardless, it is fun to see a Rockies figure well chronicled by a media outlet like the New York Times. The writeup begins by talking about Walker’s career in a more personable sense, making for a nice change of pace compared to an abundance of associated material based simply on statistics. Walker will not gain votes due to his high school in British Columbia not having a baseball team, but the details help to solidify Walker as an admirable figure for people to easily pull for—the ‘humble hero’, as Sports Illustrated appropriately put it.