Saturday, July 29, 2006

Rockies Feed Ringolsby a Line About Todd Helton

Whatever the momentus and considerable achievements of newly inducted Baseball Hall of Fame writer Tracy Ringolsby -- they should not include his coverage of Rockies first baseman Todd Helton's bout with Crohn's disease. There is no shame in contracting Crohn's Disease, only shame in not treating it. But the Rockies and attendant medical authorities have continually and deliberately led Ringolsby and a complacent Front Range media away from the smoking gun that explains why Helton is a mere shadow of his former self. Helton has been dropped from the No. 3 spot in the batting order to No. 5 as his average languishes in the .270 range and his home run total stalls at a mere dozen, despite playing in the best hitter's park in the National League. The cause is Helton's continuing struggle against the debilitations of Crohn's disease, including intermittent bowl discomfort and irregularities, gastro-intestinal pain and a vague feeling of weakness as if suffering from low-grade fever. Though Helton potentially may have to deal with it for the remainder of his life, prospects are good that the malady can be successfully managed with diet modification and anti-inflammatory medicine. One day soon Helton may return to normal or near normal. But for the time being, it will remain a challenge for him to try to play an energetic game when with little warning at any time, he feels as though the claws of a raptor have suddenly clutched his gut. The disease most commonly strikes men in their 20s and 30s in industrialized nations in northern climates, but thankfully is rarely fatal.