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Carlos Gonzalez still has plenty of magic in him

Drew Creasman Avatar
June 16, 2017


DENVER – On a cool summer evening in one of the most beautiful places to take in a baseball game anywhere in the world, a divisional bout between the Colorado Rockies and San Francisco Giants suddenly hung in the balance like a tightrope walker over the Grand Canyon. Tie game. Bottom of the ninth. After blowing a 9-1 lead, allowing to the Giants to tie it late, Mark Reynolds started the all-important inning with a single and the pinch-hitter was announced.

In that moment, it didn’t matter what the stat sheet read. There was a “clean slate” to quote Bud Black.

There is no honest way to sugarcoat the 2017 production of Colorado Rockies outfielder Carlos Gonzalez. Once one of the most feared hitters in the game, he’s looked closer to an automatic out this season with a smattering of exceptions that seem to come fewer and farther between.

But this is not an examination of the cold hard facts. As PA announcer Alan Roach’s voice rang throughout Coors Field, the home faithful rose to their feet and chills ran down the spines of over 40,000 … including Giants reliever Hunter Strickland. Strickland — not known for shying away from guys with his dominating fastball — walked CarGo on four pitches.

In that moment, there was a palpable belief that Gonzalez would do something positive, maybe even special, despite everything he has been through at the plate the season.

Had he launched one over the wall — heck if he had even put one in the gap to score Reynolds — the House that Helton Built might have come positively unglued. He has done so much for this organization since joining it for a postseason run in 2009. He would be the only guy on the roster who has played after 162 wearing a Rockies uniform, should this team accomplish the feat eight years later. They want CarGo to succeed here.

“Carlos is an integral part of our team, now and in the future,” says manager Bud Black. “He’s gonna help get us to where we want to go, no doubt about it. Is he playing Carlos like right now offensively? No. Tonight, could it be a big night? Yeah. It could be. We don’t know, that’s why we’re gonna play him and find out.”

That confidence was reflected in the crowd’s reaction to Gonzalez less than 24 hours earlier. And also, again, in Strickland’s. Numbers can tell you a lot, but very few human minds who have seen CarGo play over the years though … in that moment … that it would be a solid strategy for Strickland to groove one on a 3-0 count.

There are plenty of teams in the history of professional sports who could have a first-place season undone by a malcontent, struggling superstar who isn’t getting his numbers, poisoning the environment and causing rifts in something Ian Desmond says need to be “a fraternity.” Carlos Gonzalez is the exact opposite of that. Showing up to work with a smile, never complaining, and taking the time to talk to the media about all the things he appreciates about the kid who some are now calling on to replace him. Class.

Do the Rockies need to be more open to sitting a multiple time All-Star whose won both Silver Slugger and Gold Glove awards than most teams? Yes. But that has as much to do with how well other guys on the roster, most recently Raimel Tapia, are playing.

But Gonzalez also has a resume, and yes just enough magic, to have earned as many opportunities as he can reasonably get to remind everyone in the world just how talented he is. And how, in any given moment, he can still scare the hell out of just about anyone who takes the mound.


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