Colorado Rockies: A Team of Know Names

The Colorado Rockies are the Clint Eastwood of the MLB playoffs: The team with no names. Sure, most fans and analysts are at least somewhat familiar with first baseman Todd Helton and left fielder (should-be) NL MVP Matt Holliday. But as Tony Kornheiser and countless other commentators have griped, that’s about it for the all-star players. The rest of our lineup is filled with names that are as unknown as they are hard to spell (which should result in a fun drinking game for every butchered pronunciation).

The irony, as any fan who’s been following the Rox can tell you, is that every person on our roster has been critical to our team’s success. No one player has stepped up in this stretch; at different times, every player has stepped up. So whether you’re a high-paid sports columnist exposed in your ignorance or a casual fan ready to jump on the bandwagon (there’s still room), here’s a convenient guide to the rest of the Rockies players, positions and pronunciations.

Let’s start with second baseman and NLDS MVP, Kaz Matsui (Matt-Sue-EEE). After his game two grand-slam, Mets fans suddenly realized where their former prized prospect ended up, but to most, he’s still just the second best-known Matsui in the league (apparently the name Matsui is to Japanese baseball players what Johnson is to American football stars). Next up is shortstop Troy Tulowitzki (Two-Low-Wit-Ski). He’s been getting a fair amount of press for his impressive rookie campaign, with more than 100 RBI and infielding moves that rival his idol, Derek Jeter.

There are, of course, good old-fashioned American names like third baseman Garrett Atkins (like the diet) and right fielder Brad Hawpe (as in I-HOP). Now healed from a quadriceps injury, Willie Taveras (Tuh-Var-Es) will start in Center field, but expect Ryan Spilborghs (Spill-Boar-Gs) to do some relief hitting. Jamey “Christmas” Carroll, who punched in Holliday’s game-winning run in the October 1 wild card play-in game against the Padres, should get some at bats as well, but don’t hold your breath in hopes of seeing utility outfielder and game 3 star Jeff Baker (the Candlestick maker).

And now for the mother of them all, the man whose first name sounds like a Muppet, and whose last name is a combination of the soon-to-be fired Yankees manager and the hottest woman on the planet – Yorvit Torrealba. (Your-Veet Tory-Alba). Kurt Vonnegut would have a hard time coming up with a name quirkier than his. In fact, he’s a strong contender for the coolest name for a catcher since Yogi Berra. And dude can swing a mean bat, hitting .500 against the Phillies.

I won’t get into the pitching staff, mostly because they’re either self-explanatory (Francis, Fogg) or because I can’t phonetically spell out the nuanced pronunciation of Hispanic names like Corpas and Jimenez. In any event, it’s the hitters you should know - at any given moment, any one of these guys is ready to play hero.

No names? More like know names. -- Mark Schiff