The Colorado Rockies are currently a fixture in the thick of the National League West race alongside the Los Angeles Dodgers and Arizona Diamondbacks. But the Rockies could use one more missing ingredient with the MLB Postseason within reach.
How about the return of Matt Holliday? Colorado has indeed signed the former superstar outfielder and Blake Street Bomber to a minor league deal. Before I tell you where he’ll report for duty, let me give you a taste of what he meant to the Rockies in his first five seasons in the Majors. Okay, sure. He had the benefit as a slugger of playing 81 of 162 regular-season games every year at the hitter-friendly confines of Coors Field in the Mile High City, but he did demonstrate equally impressive power on the road in those five years.
In Colorado’s only World Series appearance in 2007, Matt simply tattooed baseballs all over the place. He had opposing pitchers as well as the baseball itself in stitches. I watched him hit balls so incredibly hard, I wouldn’t be surprised if he split the stitches on some of his swings. How about these gaudy statistics in 2007? All career-highs, Holliday hit .340 with 36 home runs and 137 RBIs. Extraordinary. Let’s not forget his 216 total hits that led the NL that season. Sounds like an NL MVP type year, right? Wrong. He finished second in MVP votes. Clearly, the only reason he didn’t win the award were those 81 games played at 5,280 feet above sea level.
I get it. The ball travels farther in thin air. Give me a break. He destroyed the baseball in 2007 and should’ve won MVP honors.
What about the run that Mr. Holliday and his mates made back in 2007, reaching the World Series for the first time as a franchise? It was nothing short of incredible. With a record of 76-72 on September 16th, the Rox finished the home stretch with 13 out of 14 victories. This gave Colorado a chance to clinch the NL wild card in a one-game playoff against the San Diego Padres. In a ridiculous 13-inning affair, the Rockies emerged victorious, 9-8 at Coors Field. The final run was scored by, you guessed it, Holliday. Down 8-6 in the bottom of the 13th, Colorado would need a miracle facing Hall of Fame closer, Trevor Hoffman.
Did I mention that this game was played on October 1st which happens to be my Mother’s birthday? No. Well, my Mom received her biggest present that evening with the two of us cheering on our Rox. It was one of those on the couch, off the couch, screaming, high-five and hug filled moments I’ll never forget. Now tied at 8 apiece, Jamey Carroll’s sacrifice-fly, flare to right field allowed Holliday to tag and take off from third base. His epic, head-first dive toward home plate sent the Rockies to the Postseason. Matt celebrated with teammates, sporting a cut-up chin from the slide. And only God knows if Holliday actually touched home plate, but that didn’t matter. The win would propel Colorado all the way to the World Series.
Now deemed Roctober, the Rockies swept the Philadelphia Phillies, 3-0, in the NLDS and subsequently brought out the brooms against the Diamondbacks, 4-0, in the NLCS. The franchises’ first and only NL Pennant saw the club winning an astonishing 21 out of 22 games to reach the World Series. Although they were swept themselves by the mighty Boston Red Sox, 4-0, in the Fall Classic, 2007 will always be remembered. And Mr. Holliday had a gargantuan role in all of it.
Unable to reach a deal after the 2008 season, Holliday was unfortunately traded to the Oakland Athletics. During the 2009 season, Oakland dealt Matt to the St. Louis Cardinals. He helped the Cardinals win the 2011 World Series, but now he’s a Colorado Rockie once again.
For now, at the age of 38, Matt won’t be reporting to the big club in Denver. He’ll start his comeback a good five-hour drive to the west playing for the Grand Junction Rockies — the organization’s rookie-level club. Although this may seem like a slight to the seven-time MLB All-Star, Mr. Holliday will gladly take the opportunity in stride.
Likely just a few years away from retirement, Holliday reported for duty with Grand Junction on Sunday. And for now, he explained that his plan is to find his footing with the hope of joining the MLB Rockies at some point this season.
Matt, of course, talked to the media in Grand Junction. He said, “Getting my baseball legs back under me. We’ll see how the next few days go.”
Furthermore, he stated, “I’ll do some pregame stuff, take batting practice, do some pregame defense and we’ll see after that. Probably move on to Triple-A. Just see how fast I’m ready to take some at-bats and compete at a high level.”
Colorado’s push into playoff contention was most definitely a factor in Holliday’s signing.
Matt noted, “That’s one of the main things that got me going, how they’re playing and potentially go into a postseason and make another run at a World Series.”
The Rockies entered play on Tuesday evening, 57-48. They’re just one game back of the NL West leading Dodgers, and only a half-game behind Arizona. In the best divisional race in baseball, Colorado is overjoyed to have Holliday back in Rockies Purple, Silver, Black, and White. With 2018 being the 25th Anniversary of the franchise, signing Holliday may very well be a great omen.