Saunders: Time for Rockies fans to let go of Nolan Arenado — curtain call or not

Saunders: Time for Rockies fans to let go of Nolan Arenado — curtain call or not

Saunders: Time for Rockies fans to let go of Nolan Arenado — curtain call or not

To paraphrase a former Rockies radio announcer, “Nolan Arenado is gone and he ain’t coming back.”

In other words, it’s time for Rockies fans to let go of the iconic third baseman, who’s quickly becoming the biggest thing in St. Louis since Bob Gibson, or maybe the Gateway Arch.

And let’s be honest, Arenado now resides in a much better baseball town. The Cardinals rule St. Louis the way the Broncos rule Denver. Maybe more so.

ICYMI, and if you follow the Rockies on Twitter there is no way you could miss it, some fans are upset because of something Arenado said after he hit a go-ahead, two-run homer in the eighth inning of the Cardinals’ 3-1 victory over Milwaukee on Thursday.

It was the Cardinals’ home opener at Busch Stadium, and the atmosphere was everything Arenado hoped it would be.

“This was one of the greatest moments,” Arenado told reporters. “You know, I’ve been fortunate to hit a couple homers, hit a homer for the cycle one time and … that still probably tops this just a little bit. But I’ve never gotten a curtain call before and to get one of those was just an unbelievable feeling. (I) never had that.”

I received emails from Rockies fans who thought Arenado was dissing them. They recalled that magic moment on Father’s Day 2017 when he hit the walk-off homer to beat the Giants and complete the cycle at Coors Field. The fans thought he was discounting that. He was not. Look at the quote again.

The truth is, that memorable homer resulted in a wild on-field celebration, but not a curtain call out of the dugout. Different circumstances. So Arenado is correct when he said he never received a curtain call at Coors Field. Then again, Todd Helton didn’t get a curtain call until Sept. 16, 2007, when he hit the 300th homer of his career.

Fans are also upset because Cardinals right-hander Adam Wainwright spilled the beans when he told St. Louis reporters that Arenado had been sending him highlight videos for two years. Wainwright also said Arenado told him to pass the videos along to John Mozeliak, the Cardinals’ president of baseball operations. In other words, Arenado pined to become a Cardinal for a least one season while he was still wearing Colorado purple.

I checked around and here’s what I discovered:

* Arenado was half-joking when he told Wainwright to pass along the videos to Mozeliak, but Wainwright did it anyway. Not that Arenado minded.

* Arenado had been checking out the Cardinals’ “culture” ever since his rift with general manager Jeff Bridich boiled over in November 2019, just nine months after he signed his eight-year, $260 million contract. Arenado texted with a number of people, including former Cardinals (and Rockies) Matt Holliday, Daniel Descalso, and a number of current Cardinals, including catcher Yadier Molina and Wainwright.

Arenado not only wanted to make sure St. Louis would be a good fit for him, but he also mused about how a trade from the Rockies to the Cardinals might actually be possible.

* It’s no secret that Arenado wants, more than anything, to play for a winner and that he views the Cardinals as winners. He doesn’t see the Rockies in the same light.

“I think he wanted to be a Cardinal more than just desiring to be traded,” Joel Wolfe, Arenado’s agent, told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch for their 2021 season-preview story. “He had a very short list of teams, and that list was the Cardinals and then everybody else was in third or fourth place.

“Nolan was committed to being a Cardinal from the very moment we started discussing trade. The whole attitude and vibe there are so important to Nolan. He’s going to be the Cardinals’ lead guitarist.”

The bottom line: Arenado doesn’t dislike Colorado or its fans. He cherishes his time here. But he wanted something more and he didn’t think he would ever find it with the Rockies.

He’s moved on. We should, too.


Saunders: Time for Rockies fans to let go of Nolan Arenado — curtain call or not