Rockies telecasts will have a different feel this season, and not just because of a roster overhaul that has the AARP interested in press box credentials.
No, the new feel on the telecasts will have more to do with the departures of Root Sports staples Alanna Rizzo and Tom Helmer.
Rizzo’s exit is not a big surprise: The camera likes Alanna a lot and and she reciprocated by building relationships with players that gave her interviews a relaxed, conversational feel. It was only a matter of time before she moved on to the national stage, in this case a studio job back east at MLB Network.
Helmer’s exit is more puzzling. He broke the news himself Tuesday on Twitter (@Tom_Helmer):
“I have loved every minute of covering the Rockies, DU, CU and CHSAA. Sorry it won’t continue as ROOT Sports is moving on without me,” he posted.
“I will miss the fans at Coors Field the most. You made it so much fun and I hope I gave you some small piece of enjoyment as well.”
About an hour later, Root (@ROOTSPORTS_RM) confirmed:
“Thanks to @Tom_Helmer for all his hard work and dedication over the last 6 years. We wish him the best.”
Helmer hosted the bulk of Root’s pre- and post-game Rockies shows and did it with flair. Crowds would hang around the center field Rockpile waiting for him to jump on the desk and lead the cheers after the Rocks won. It was schtick, for sure, but it was fun schtick and better TV than most post-mortems. Some of his fans took to Twitter to complain about his departure with the hashtag “savehelmer.”
“It will be BORING without you,” tweeted one.
“You guys are high on crack letting Tom go,” said another.
“Baseball is all about familiar,” said a third. “It’s an old pair of slippers. A thread-bare blanket. No place for sudden changes. We love @Tom_Helmer.”
Even Rocks center fielder Dexter Fowler weighed in:
“@Tom_Helmer Sorry to hear that, I enjoyed the time working with you, it’s been a pleasure. Good luck on your future endeavors!”
“Thank you for the hundreds upon hundreds of comments,” Helmer tweeted this morning. “I have read every one. You’ll never know how much it really means to me.”
In addition to his pre- and post-game duties, Helmer filled in for Drew Goodman on play-by-play occasionally and did an excellent job.
He has two traits in particular that I’ll miss — a quick wit and a genuine affection for the English language not that common on TV.
He and I had a running gag in the Coors Field press box about the chronic overuse and misuse in our trade of the word “ironic.” If Jeff Baker gets traded to the Cubs and then the Rocks play the Cubs, that’s ironic.
No, it’s not. If it’s anything, it’s coincidental, and given the eventual inevitability, barely even that.
You know what’s ironic? Root Sports dumping an energetic on-air talent who knows what “ironic” means.