Helton enjoying postseason, likens Royals to 2007 Rockies

Former first baseman recently helped out at the Denver Rescue Mission

Helton enjoying postseason, likens Royals to 2007 Rockies

DENVER -- Former Rockies star first baseman Todd Helton watched as analysts at this year's American League Championship Series postgame show raved about how they'd never seen a postseason run from an off-the-radar team like the Royals.

Uh, Helton and the 2007 Rockies lived it.

"It's funny that they said that," Helton said. "I'm watching that, and I'm thinking this is very similar to what we did. My best advice to the Royals would be to lose a game so they don't have to sit around and wait eight days to play."

Helton appeared Tuesday at the Denver Rescue Mission for a Hunt.Fish.Feed. event run by Sportsman Channel. Helton was helping to serve a venison chili prepared by Scott Leysath, host of "The Sporting Chef" on the Sportsman Channel. More than 300 people in need were served.

But Helton's heart is never far from baseball. And even though the Royals are the team of now, the Rockies of '07 are always at the front of Helton's mind.

A magical run that saw the '07 Rockies win 21 of 22 games and sweep the National League Division and Championship Series before the lengthy, momentum-killing break before the World Series. A seemingly rusty Rockies team was swept by the Red Sox in the World Series. But the Royals' run brings fond memories to Helton, who retired at the end of the '13 season. Helton spent 17 seasons in a Rockies uniform, with the sweetest time being the World Series trip.

"You see a team like that with the enthusiasm and passion with which they're playing, I think everybody's got to be rooting for them," Helton said. "I was also rooting for Chris Iannetta [a former teammate who played for the Angels in their ALDS loss to the Royals]. I'm rooting for Matt Holliday [with the Cardinals against the Giants in the NLCS] now, and he's doing pretty well. This is fun to watch."

Helton also texted well-wishes to Royals right-handed pitcher Jeremy Guthrie, who started Tuesday's Game 3 against the Orioles.

Guthrie and the Royals may not realize until much later the specialness of their undertaking.

"I remember how quickly it went," Helton said. "At the time it seemed like it took forever. But it blew by too quick. I wish I could've soaked a little more of the memories. But in that moment, in that time, a lot of things are going on. It's just a blur."

The first year of retirement for Helton brought much hunting and fishing. He and former Rockies teammate Brad Hawpe recently returned from a hunting safari in Africa. He also helped coach his daughter's softball team, and took naps.

While Helton has been enjoying a year away from the game, much has changed with his old team. Last week, longtime general manager Dan O'Dowd and senior vice president of Major League operations Bill Geivett resigned. Rockies owner, chairman and CEO Dick Monfort promoted Jeff Bridich from senior director of player development to the GM job.

"Dan had been there a long time, done a lot of great things for that organization," Helton said. "Maybe it was time to go. Maybe it wasn't. But sometimes you need some fresh ideas. Sometimes change is good. Hopefully, this is the change they need so on the field they're competitive next year."

The belief is there is a place in the Rockies' organization for Helton when he feels ready to return to the game. Two other franchises in town have hired some of their star players to set a new direction. The Denver Broncos turned to John Elway to run their football operation. Colorado Avalanche brought in Joe Sakic as GM, Patrick Roy as head coach and Adam Foote as defensive consultant. Helton has said he would take a year off before deciding whether he wanted to dip his toes back into the game.

He wasn't ready to say Tuesday, but he hasn't been in the job market.

"It's been about a year," Helton said with a smile. "My phone has not rung. But I keep my voicemail full and I don't answer the phone a lot. I'm not a slave to my phone."

The Sportsman Channel Hunt.Fish.Feed. program has fed more than 23,000 meals since its inception in '07, using game meat and fish donated by outdoors men and women. For example, the venison for the Denver event was donated by Fred and Michele Eichler, hosts of Sportsman Channel's "Easton Bowhunting TV." During his time out of baseball, maybe Helton can develop his own cuisine, although he has a ways to go.

"My recipes are improving every day," Helton said with a smile. "Christy [Helton's wife] makes elk meat spaghetti that's fabulous, but that's her recipe. For me, maybe it's a sautéed duck breast in light oil and seasoning -- salt and pepper. Just zap it real quick after a hunt. It's simple, quick. You can't cook duck too much or, personally, I think it's pretty tough to eat. Just whack it."

Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Hardball in the Rockies, follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, and like his Facebook page, Thomas Harding and Friends at www.Rockies.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.