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Before was can officially kick off the 2018 season, we thought we would take one last look back on the season that was.
We had no shortage of moments to relive from a year that saw the Colorado Rockies reach the postseason for the first time in nearly a decade. There were MLB debuts, dramatic performances, tearful returns, and a hometown kid flirting with history. A superstar even earned a new nickname.
So, what could stand out among all of that as the best moment for the Rockies in 2017? If you saw it, you know it. If you were there, you will never forget it. If you have seen the images, they will be etched into your mind long after you’ve forgotten every stat you’ve ever read.
But, other than the return of Chad Bettis after conquering cancer, the best moment of the season didn’t actually come on the baseball diamond.
Honorable Mention: Celebrating the 2007 Rockies and the life of Don Baylor, September 8
Ten years after the most incredible stretch of Rockies baseball that has ever been played, countless familiar faces flooded the field to pay tribute to the most memorable season in Denver history… and to an old friend.
Don Baylor, the first manager of the franchise, had passed away just a few days earlier, and this was the first game back home. His jersey hung in the dugout as players like Todd Helton, Brad Hawpe, and Garret Atkins reunited with each other in hearty embrace.
Tears of sadness and joy hung in every eye. It was a day of celebration and remembrance. And it may just have been the day that the Rockies found themselves again, sprinting to the finish of the season in a fitting tribute to the Don.
You could see Clint Barmes chatting with Trevor Story or Jason Hammel bending the ear of Kyle Freeland. Current Broadcasters Ryan Spilborghs and Cory Sullivan eagerly greeted every member of that team and every fan or season ticket holder who was lucky enough to witness the event. Josh Fogg and Jamey Carrol got to be heroes again for a day.
The old guard passed the baton to the new generation of Rockies that day. The past and present collided into an amazing tapestry of the very essence of the Colorado Rockies.
No. 1: A walk-off cycle for the ages, June 19
It was always going to be this.
A sold-out crowd of families celebrating Father’s Day watched in pure awe as one of the game accomplished the near impossible. From his first-inning triple, the probability of Nolan Arenado hitting for the cycle was immediately apparent on the minds of many, since doubles and homers aren’t exactly difficult to come by for the perennial All-Star.
The double and single came but the Rockies led going into the final frame, and it looked like Arenado might not even get another at-bat. In an odd twist of fate, Hunter Pence smacked a two-run homer in the top of the ninth to give the San Francisco Giants the lead. But he also gave Nolan his shot.
Once Charlie Blackmon and DJ LeMahieu had reached base, everyone was thinking the same thing. And I mean every single person in that building. “There’s no way, right? There’s just no way.”
The odds that your team would need a home run to win the game at the same time you need a home run to earn the cycle are already low. Then there’s the fact that about one percent of MLB at-bats end in home runs. Throw in that the Rockies were down and not tied like when Carlos Gonzalez achieved the feat in 2010. A single to right field would have tied the game and been more than acceptable.
But this is the King of Clutch we are talking about. He didn’t walk to the plate to tie the game. He walked to the plate to win the game.
In one of the greatest calls in Rockies history, Jack Corrigan’s words still ring in my ears. “Drive to left field. Going back is Slater… It’s goooooooooooooooooooonne!”
You cheered, you laughed, you cried. You hugged and maybe even kissed a few strangers. You stood in utter shock. As did we all.
It’s impossible to be perfect in baseball. Somehow the cruel people who designed this game made it so that everyone fails more than they succeed. Players remember the horror stories more vividly than their successes. But not this one.
In a game that scoffs at the very idea of being flawless, Nolan Arenado provided the baseball world with a single solitary moment of absolute perfection.