Baseball Toaster Bad Altitude
Getting Past the Past
2006-09-13 19:10
by Mark T.R. Donohue

I just received an e-mail from the Rockies announcing that Vinny Castilla is the final "player of the homestand" for Colorado's last stretch of home games. I had actually been planning on going to a couple of those games, even with the disappointing turn the season had taken, but now for sure I'm not. I am really sick of the attitude many casual Rockies fans have that Castilla's heyday represented some sort of golden age for the club. I am even more tired by the current regime's cheap ticket-selling ploy of bringing back the profoundly washed-up Castilla for one last go-round. Vinny Castilla was an average player who happened to have a couple of his peak seasons in the most offense-friendly environment in major league history. He was the fifth- or sixth-best player on one team that barely made the playoffs in a strike-shortened year and several more that accomplished absolutely nothing. While the Rockies managed to finish off last season on a positive note by winning some ballgames and showcasing some of their leigit young talent, they are closing this one out by reminding those scarce few of us who are still paying attention just how profoundly little they have accomplished in their fourteen years of existence.

When the Yankees or the Dodgers have an old-timers' day, it's a special occasion. The Rockies have nothing in their brief history that in any way deserves to be celebrated. They have had two legitimately great players, Larry Walker (who was a complete pain for the last year and a half of his stay in Denver) and Todd Helton (who is now, for variety's sake, dragging the franchise down by sticking with them for life). And it's not like Colorado is bringing Castilla out to wave to the crowd, throw out a ceremonial first pitch, and spend a half-inning reminiscing with the broadcast team. They're giving him a real uniform and roster spot. This month should be about Troy Tulowitzki, Chris Iannetta (who just hit his first ML homer), Jeff Salazar, and Jeff Baker. Instead it's about the embarrassing spectacle of the Rockies trying to pimp the decrepit reanimated Ghost of Third Base Past into a few extra ticket sales to yet another stretch of depressing, meaningless playing-out-the-string September games. You can tell by the excessive number of modifiers in the last sentence that I'm really ticked off about this.

Unrelated: Baker's debut Friday made him the 29th major leaguer ever to have been born in Germany.

2006-09-13 20:52:39
1.   das411
Would you rather have Abe Nunez starting at 3B? Cause, yknow, you can have him instead.
2006-09-13 20:54:03
2.   Dan Lucero
I guess I just don't understand why you take such vehement personal offense to the idea that there might be some Rockies fans out there who appreciated what Vinny brought to the field during his time with the team and want to send him off with one more standing O before a pinch-hit appearance.

Let me know when Castilla takes any ABs away from Tulo, Iannetta, Baker, or Salazar. Last I checked, he doesn't play their positions. I really don't see the harm in sending Vinny up to hit for a relief pitcher in the seventh or eighth inning. Maybe he wasn't a great player, sabermetrically speaking. But he's an original Colorado Rockie, a two-time All-Star, and more importantly, he's a fan favorite - and not just among casual fans either.

You're admittedly not one of those fans that can call himself a fan since the team's inception - let me tell you, from 93 to 97 was as close to a 'golden age' as we've ever had, and us long time fans treasure the memories of packed houses, inflated scores, and competitive ballclubs. Castilla was a big part of that, and I think it's nice that we get to send off a guy that was one of ours (didn't get to do that with Walker, Big Cat, or Bichette).

What's so wrong with appreciating a guy who played hard, played well, and was part of winning teams? If anything, it's a nice juxtaposition - honoring a big part of our brief success in the past, while showcasing what we hope to be big parts of much more long-lasting success in the future.

2006-09-13 21:14:40
3.   Mark T.R. Donohue
I already kind of spoke my piece on this, but briefly: the Rockies should be focusing on moving forward. Always. Until they do something good. Castilla does absolutely nothing to make the team better. Bringing back useless relics in a misguided attempt to sell tickets isn't classy. It's Tampa Bay Devil Rays.
2006-09-13 21:29:08
4.   das411
But the Rays have not (yet) had any success to reflect back on and the Rockies have. The Steinbrennerian "World Series or the season is a failure" attitude does not seem to have quite hit the Rockies fan base, so what's the harm in using one at-bat on a farewell to Castilla, especially if it ends up drawing a significantly larger crowd (read: $$) than that one game otherwise would?

And at the absolute least, a farewell at-bat by Castilla should guarantee he never plays another game in a Colorado uni again when the team finally is competitive. Is that alone not worth the price of one late 2006 at-bat?

2006-09-14 07:39:54
5.   Ali Nagib
4 - Um, I don't think Vinny was going to play any more games in ANY uniform after this month, regardless of whether the Rockies picked him up or not. It's not like he was going to pop up during a 2008 playoff run and say "Put me in, coach." Unless....
2006-09-14 09:18:55
6.   Dan Lucero
Mark, maybe Vinny's status as an 'original Rockie' doesn't mean anything to you, but I don't appreciate the sentiment that it shouldn't mean anything to us long-time fans.

So because the Rockies never did anything 'significant' (I guess that playoff appearance in Year 3 and the three straight winning seasons never happened) while Vinny was around, that means we shouldn't honor his accomplishments? Well, by that reasoning, the Cubs had better take Ernie Banks's number down from the Wrigley Field flag pole, and Yankees fans shouldn't bother with their respect and love for Don Mattingly, because by your standards, those players represent an era in which their respective franchises 'did nothing significant'. No, Vinny's not on the same plane as those guys, but he's as good as we've ever had and played on the teams that were as good as we've ever had. What, exactly, is wrong with that? This isn't like we're bringing Jason Bates or Pedro Astacio back for one more go-round and one more round of applause - those are guys who truly didn't account for any success in a Rockies uniform. Vinny did, and was an All-Star performer to boot (park factors be damned, the guy had some excellent years).

2006-09-14 13:22:18
7.   JIrv
2006-09-14 15:05:52
8.   Mark T.R. Donohue
Banks and Mattingly: MVPs, serial All-Stars, spend entire careers with one organization. Castilla: once finished 11th in MVP voting, All-Star twice, played with Rockies, Braves, Devil Rays, Astros, Nationals, Padres. Castilla was a slighly above-average major league regular for a couple of years. His career is no more worth celebrating than Gary Gaetti's. Actually, less. I always liked Gary Gaetti.

Let's All Hug Vinny Day is just another subtle way of conditioning Rockies fans to accept the mediocre and unremarkable.

2006-09-14 20:45:39
9.   das411
Ok Mark, you forced me to do this:

2006-09-15 14:48:24
10.   confucius
Castilla is terrible and it's terrible that the Rockies are doing this. Why do you people think everyone in Denver cares only about the Broncos? All the Rockies have to offer is Vinny Castilla. They should be promoting their younger players because they are the ones that are going to make the Rockies relevant. As a Dodger fan I've always loved seeing my team play the Rockies eighteen times a season. Those are easy wins. For my teams sake I hope the Rockies continue to find satisfaction in running crappy players out on the field and celebrating their lack of success, but boy if I were a rockie fan...
2006-10-01 17:36:37
11.   MrUnderhiII
Garbage. Vinny Castilla is a solid, underrated player. "He was wonderful for our team, right up there with the best of them -- Brooks [Robinson] and all of them," Cox told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "He never missed a ball."

After a long career he was let go by the padres going into the last months of the season. Rather than have a colorado hero end his career by being fired, they brought him back home for a place to retire. He played his final game infront of Rockies and Braves fans. The season was already over for the rockies, and they were taking a look at their younger prospects. Vinny played first base and todd sat the bench. Let me repeat that....Vinny played FIRST BASE. He didnt take up the time from anyone esle but todd helton. Vinny's son was their as the rockies bat boy, to watch his dad play in his final game.

What a way to end a career. I have much more respect for the rockies front office.

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