Today is the end.
Troy Tulowitzki, my favorite player, on my favorite team was traded.
I can hardly, type a full sentence without one of the two following emotions setting in, rage, or despair.
Today the Rockies broke my heart.
For many Rockies fans, the sweep in the World Series in 2007 or the loss in the NLDS to Philadelphia was the thing that did their hearts in. But not mine. Trading Tulo has not only broken my heart, but I will no longer be able to look at the Rockies with the same childlike glee. Now they’re just a ballclub that I happen to like.
Why though, why am I taking the news very hard?
Troy was the absolute best player I have ever seen play baseball. As a 20-year-old, the only names that come to mind that are even in the same stratosphere with Tulo’s are Barry Bonds, Mike Trout, Albert Pujols, and Alex Rodriguez. Not only that but I got to see him day in and day out, in his prime, over the course of my teenage years.
Today that ended. Not only is it the end for the Rockies’ Tulo era 2006-2015, but it was also the end to my childhood.
Troy Tulowitzki is to me what Derek Jeter is to Troy Tulowitzki. I’ve idolized Tulo for almost a decade now. From his stance, to the way he wears his accessories, to fielding ground balls deep in the hole and yelling “TULO!”, to those stupid eye black stickers he wears, I even grew my own hair out into a mullet shortly after Tulo did it in 2009.
My sophomore year in high school I even got pulled from several games for trying to emulate Tulo at the shortstop position too much. Once my coach was more than upset when I wouldn’t stop calling daylight pickoff moves despite our pitchers’ lack of ability to throw the actual pickoff move. Another time we were playing Faith Christian Academy and my friend David Bote (Cubs minor leaguer) was at second base. With two outs a ball was hit deep into the hole, and as Bote ran in front me of I tried to make a bare handed stab on a two hopper and fire to first all in one motion. It didn’t work out so well for me, nor my team. But all these little things that I tried to do but could not, didn’t make me hate Tulo, they made me want to be him even more.
I’m not even close to what Tulo’s body type is, heck I’m more of a Jose Altuve than a Troy Tulowitzki, but I swear every kid on the Front Range was trying to be Tulo. That summer of 2010 I was hardly the only one with a mullet. In fact almost every high school team that we played from Kansas to Wyoming to Utah, had a shortstop with a mullet and wore those awful eye black stickers.
When I got access this year to be credentialed for the Rockies, I told Rockies Zingers editor Richard Bergstrom my only problem would be actually speaking to Tulo (I did manage to get a few words out, and one time he gave me the “you’re cool” nod.) See I’m at the age where I just figured out that these athletes are just people. There isn’t anything special about them besides their wonderful athletic ability. I felt this way for everyone on the Rockies but Tulo. Sure I would have felt the same way about Todd Helton had he still been in the clubhouse, but I don’t remember Helton’s prime like I do Tulo’s.
As I’m sure you figured out by now this article is less about analysis and more about my favorite player.
And Tulo was built up to be this superstar by everyone. He was the man to look up to, he was the face of the Rockies. He was locked up long-term for a reason after all, he was supposed to be the next Helton. Just like Tulo’s idol Jeter, he’d retire a winner for the franchise that drafted him. But the sad reality of this trade means a Tulo led Rockies team will only win a World Series in an alternate universe, one which we do not live.
In the fantasy baseball world where I live, where I’m so used to trades being made and my first reaction is “what did you get back,” this one was different. Frankly I don’t care what the Rockies got back. Nothing can replace Tulo, our Tulo, my Tulo.
That’s my jumping off point. I will never be the same Rockies fan I was July 26th 2015 as I will be July 28th 2015 and forward. The Rockies overnight went from my childhood team to a collection of dudes a few years older than me who are good at baseball. I will never be able to have the same emotion or love for any one player, or the team as a whole as I did just a few mere days ago. The Rockies, they broke my heart.
Keith Olbermann does a good job explaining how I feel as he talks about his Dad’s hatred of the Yankees. Steve Souchock, is no Troy Tulowitzki but a favorite player is a favorite player.
“It’s sports. It will break your heart.”
Even my own dad told me years ago to never get a jersey with a player’s name on the back. Ironically my authentic Troy Tulowitzki jersey was a gift from my father.
I think my own dad said that because he felt this same heartbreak when my other favorite team, the Chicago Blackhawks, dealt a local boy, and at the time, a 3 time Norris (the award for the NHL’s best defenseman) winning, 2 time Olympian, Stanley Cup winning, 37-year-old 9 time All Star, and future Hall of Famer to Detroit. That was Chris Chelios, perhaps the best American born defenseman, traded to the Blackhawks’ biggest rival, the Red Wings. Chelios would play 10 years with Detroit, winning two Stanley Cups, while the Blackhawks hadn’t won a cup in 50 years.
Maybe that’s why my father told me to never get a player’s name on my jerseys so I wouldn’t get too attached to an athlete, who for better or worse can turn into business asset very quickly. Once again that would be ironic for my father to feel that way considering he named me Jacob Jordan Shapiro. Yes Jordan, as in Michael Jordan.
The reason I even bring all this up is because the question you ask yourself after every really poor Rockies game or even bad breakup. Is it worth it? Is it worth it to make yourself vulnerable just so you can feel the same heartbreak at the end. We all know the heartbreak is coming, yet we try to make it work anyways. Only a few relationships end in a good way, and only a few players or teams have a fairytale ending.
I’m not sure that it is worth it, but that is for you to decide. Whether it is even worth loving something knowing that there is a high percentage it doesn’t end as good as it started. What I can tell you is this, that same team I just talked about who hadn’t won a Stanley Cup in 50 years, that was named one of the worst franchises in all of sports has won three cups in the past five years. Just one championship was worth every single bit of pain the Blackhawks put me through over the years, instead they’ve won three.
Just like the Blackhawks at one point, the Rockies right now seem to have no clear direction. There isn’t any real reason to be a Rockies fan right now, the team is dreadful, and there aren’t many signs that they will be better in the near future. I would not fault you for ending your Rockies fandom right now, after all Tulo was the last real connection this team had to 2007 and 2009. You could cut your ties right now with the Rockies and feel pretty good about it.
I contemplated about doing that myself. I turned off my phone and just let the Tulo trade sink in. No matter how much time I will give the trade, it will never feel right. Then I came to the realization, all the pain will be worth it in the end. Just one big win is worth hundreds of bad losses. Think about it this way, you probably remember Carlos Gonzalez‘s walkoff for the cycle as vividly as you do any of these John Axford blown saves.
I’m still a Rockies fan, and no matter what will be a baseball fan the rest of my life. No one player nor team is the bigger than the game I love. And I’ve loved nothing in my life the way I love baseball, after all it is the most romantic thing I can think of. However today I will recognize MLB as more of a business than a sport, which leaves a bitter taste in my mouth. That bitter taste is something that we all need to remember.
The end that I talked about to start this story, that end, is the end of approaching my Rockies fandom as a child. Everything will be from this point forwards or backwards. This is the divide, this trade is where everything changed for me. Today is the day I felt disillusioned by my favorite club, where I will be broken somewhere inside for the rest of my existence as a baseball fan. The day I will mark down where I knew I could never love as much as I did before again.
Today was the day the Rockies broke my heart.