Escalade in question was driven by Rockies pitcher Denny Neagle. With his belt
undone. With a woman who would be cited for prostitution in the passenger seat.
Neagle was cited for misdemeanor soliciting prostitution, and three days later
the Rockies terminated his contract. (After disputing the termination, Neagle
and the team reportedly settled for $16 million.)
By the spring of
'05 the Rockies were scouting character as carefully as they would bat speed
and arm strength. The organization's scouting manual included preferred
character traits. Scouting reports included sections devoted to the
just the kind of makeup they were seeking. "Until you get to know him, you
can't do it justice," O'Dowd says. "What the scouts said was accurate,
or probably even understated."
Says New York
Yankees scouting director Damon Oppenheimer, "He's like DiMaggio, who said
some people might get to see him play only once, so he owed it to them to play
hard every game. That's what it looks like with Tulowitzki."
It did not take
long for Tulowitzki to make an impact. Last May 21, Colorado lost 6--5 at
Arizona and fell to 18--27. As the players trudged back to the clubhouse,
somebody sent equipment bouncing off walls as he yelled, "This team is too
good to be playing this [bleep]!" It was Tulo witzki, the .258-hitting
rookie who had just played career game number 66. That was the moment the
Rockies became his team. From then on they went 72--46.
days in the course of a long year where you come in with a low energy
level," says Helton, the Rockies' 34-year-old first baseman. "It
happens. But a few guys have the knack of getting your energy back up to where
it should be just by being themselves. Troy's one of those guys. He picks us
up, and it's all genuine."
"You can make comments that will wake guys up. I'll pull guys aside and
say, 'Hey, what were you thinking?' on a certain play or, 'That ball that was
in the gap, you settled for a single and maybe you want to stretch that into a
Last summer the
Rockies brought their latest No. 1 pick, righthander Casey Weathers, to Denver
for a look at Coors Field. Not only did Tulo witzki introduce himself in the
clubhouse before a game, but he also invited Weathers to dinner that night,
where he talked to him about what to expect as a No. 1 pick.
"We turned a
corner as a franchise last year, and the biggest reason for that was Troy,"
O'Dowd says. "It's the single-minded focus he brought, that winning comes
above everything else. He's one of those very rare players who makes players
around him better."
THE ROCKIES were
done with an early spring training workout in Tucson last month, and
Tulowitzki, who likes being the first to arrive and the last to leave, was
still in his gear, throwing batting practice to a kid in a black Rockies jersey
under an endlessly beautiful Southwestern sky. Tulowitzki was 12 years old when
he started watching Jeter in the World Series what seemed like every year. He
understood that Jeter—like Russell, Magic, Messier and Montana—was defined more
by his team's success than by his own numbers. That's the kind of player Troy
wanted to be. His father, Ken, who delivers computer equipment for an
electronics company, coached his son in Little League and helped stoke Troy's
drive to get there.