As the unending pageantry of the All-Star pregame show continues its free-fall from glitzy longing for past glories to sob story shlock, I think it's high time to take a look back at the first half of the season that was for yours, mine, and our Colorado Rockies.
On May 27, when the Rockies record stood at 18-28 and the team had just suffered through a, well, insufferable three-game sweep at the hands of the Dodgers, the outlook appeared a bit grim for the boys in the purple pinstripes.
The next day, the Rockies told Clint Hurdle to get his resume ready and ended the seven-year tenure with Hurdle at the helm.
Replacing Hurdle with bench coach Jim Tracy seemed like a safe, logical move at the time, but even Dealin' Dan O'Dowd and the Brothers Monfort could not have predicted how the team would respond to Tracy's calming leadership.
Suddenly, the Rockies started pitching well, hitting for power, hitting in clutch situations, and locking down close games with a dynamite back end of the bullpen.
Under Tracy's command, the Rockies have gone from early-season afterthoughts to a team with their sights set on an October of baseball in the Rocky Mountains.
At the break, the team sits at 47-41, third in the NL West, and just two games behind the Wild Card leading San Francisco Giants.
With that being said, the Rockies have made some noise in the national scene, and here are a few of the guys who have put them in a position to surprise some skeptics in the second half.
A lot of cases can be made for many guys. Brad Hawpe certainly deserves the lion's share of the credit, putting together the top offensive season of his career which culminated in the outfielder's first career All-Star selection.
But my award goes to the man, the myth, the hero, Todd Helton.
Coming off serious back surgery in 2008 which limited Todd to a career-low .264 batting average in just 83 games, there were many people wondering whether or not Todd would ever come back to being the player he once was, or even if he would come back at all.
He has answered the critics with aplomb.
At the break, Todd is hitting .319 with 25 doubles, 10 home runs, 57 RBI, and a stellar .916 OPS, harking back to Todd's MVP days in the early years of this millenium.
If any one person is responsible for the Rockies' resurgence in 2009, my vote goes for Beltin' Helton.
Jason Marquis or Ubaldo Jimenez have both been crucial to the Rockies, but my vote goes to the man in the back end of the bullpen, Huston Street.
After the Matt Holliday trade, there were grumbles around baseball that maybe Street had lost his closer-mentality as well as his lights-out stuff.
Those questions have been answered as well.
Once handed the closer's job for good, Street has gone onto save 22 of 23 chances and owns a 2.75 ERA at the break while adding much-needed stability to the back end of the team's bullpen.
A .201 opponent's batting average and a 0.99 WHIP have been accomplished due to Street rediscovering his deadly slider and finding some extra giddy-up on his fastball, giving it the vim and vigor of a certain little blue pill.
The "Where did this kind of production come from?" Award
Clint Barmes (.279, 10, 44)... really.
The Mel Gibson Road Warrior Award
Jason Hammel (1-2, 7.62 ERA at home...4-2, 1.97 ERA on the road)
The Regular Gonzalez Award
Dexter Fowler because he's so fast he makes Speedy Gonzalez look like Regular Gonzalez. (Thank you, Futurama.)
Honorable Mention: Carlos Gonzalez for obvious reasons.
Anybody else have some good awards for the Rockies' first half? If you've got some good ones, be sure to leave them in the comments.
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