Bud Black likes to go with the flow. Let yourself be. To a point.
So when the Rockies designated hitter/utility Connor Joe and Joe’s mule passed by the Colorado skipper in spring training, Black felt compelled to ask:
How far are we going to go?
“Where are we going on the hair?” Black questioned his young puncher. “Where are we? How far down do we go?
Joe just smiled.
“I cut it last week.”
But only a few centimeters.
“I’m going to keep it,” he explained to Black, “because I know where I was before.”
Connor Joe 1, stage 30 testicular cancer.
“For me, it kind of reminds me of where I was,” Joe continued. “And I admit that I’ve been through that.”
Think of the mule, he told the Rockies manager, as a keepsake. May the Lord throw a wicked snowball. This chemotherapy stinks. And that when you have it â growing hair, a cancer-free checkup, a chance to perform on The Show every day â you have to flaunt it. A little.
“But I’m not going to go crazy,” added Joe. “I’ll keep an eye on it.”
It’s part of the package now, part of the look. Long locks. Short shot.
The 29-year-old first baseman/outfielder entered this weekend’s series with the Cincinnati Reds with a killer mane and quick bat that put him in the top 10 National League goals (38 , No. 8), extra hits (nine, No. 9) and homers (4, No. 7) while hitting an 11-game hit streak from April 11-25.
“Hair is more than just letting it grow out and trying to be like (Blackmon) Charlie,” Joe recently told the Post. “Obviously going through chemotherapy I lost my hair, so I was bald.
âWhen it started growing back it was during COVID so because I was having chemo I couldn’t even go to the barber. And it was coming back for a long time and I was wondering whether or not I wanted to get the razor out and I was like, ‘Why not?’
So he kept it. Even when they started coming back curly, which was weird.
“It’s never been locked in my life,” Joe said. âThat’s when I started shaving the sides and it started to look like the mullet.
“It was fun. And it makes a bit of sense, to me, behind it.
“It’s not good to quit.”
Meanwhile, the legend of Connor Joe â CoJo for short â is lounging day by day.
There’s the narrative, of course, one of the best in recent Rockies memory, the kind you can’t help but root for, pure Hollywood stuff. Cancer survivor. A mate finally gets a chance in the big ones. Veteran of six MLB organizations since 2014, including the Dodgers twice. The kid back from the kid back.
“Connor had a lot of injuries growing up – there was a back problem, an arm problem,” recalled Hawaii baseball coach Rich Hill, who was Joe’s head coach in college. from San Diego, where he and past and future teammate Kris Bryant were at the heart of one of college baseball’s most dangerous rosters.
“So he’s kind of learned to deal with these things, he’s learned that it’s not okay to quit smoking and that you stick with it. And that sometimes the worst things in your life end up being the best things in your life. your life. All of thisâ¦ that he had to go through, from high school to the minor leagues, prepared him for this day. And that’s why he thrives.
As a cult, it also doesn’t hurt that few men are raking Coors Field like Joe is raking Coors right now.
The Rockies slugger started the weekend with a .336 career batting average and 1.013 career OPS on Blake Street, with six homers, 21 RBIs, 15 walks and 23 strikeouts in 35 games and 107 Lifetime batting.
Its compact, fast swing creates the kind of natural launch angle that scouts have always drooled over. But the secret sauce in CoJo’s story, mullet and all? Step selection.
The guy is super-selective on heights on the outside part of the plate. And he absolutely demolishes mistakes, especially those made from mid-zone and inside.
Entering the weekend, Joe ranked in the top 20 percent of MLB hitters in chase rate (85th percentile) and sniff rate (88th percentile), according to BaseballSavant.com.
“His awareness of the strike zone… It’s remarkable how much sense (he has) of it,” Black recently observed. “It doesn’t really matter who the pitcher is. He really has an idea of ââwhat the (zone) is and what to give up.
âThey drafted (his) bat, right? And the potential with the bat. There was a thought, “Hey, we can make this guy a catcher, we can make him a third baseman, let’s take him back (and figure him out).” So it’s in there. The batter has always been in there. And I think the approach has always been in there. It’s just (that) there wasn’t really a crisis, when he arrived, the organizations he was with, and then it was slowed down by cancer.
âThe pandemic has slowed down a lot of players in his kind of periodâ¦ Now that everything is back to normal, he is a few more years old, a few more years old. There is a huge will and desire.
“It was in my heart”
To make up for lost time. To be a living and successful example of hard work and perseverance in the face of ridiculous odds. And the most cruel of diseases.
While playing Cactus League, Joe encountered a woman wearing a shirt with the word “Warrior” on it. When he asked her what it meant, she told him it was in honor of her nephew, then 5-year-old Kamden, who was battling brain cancer.
Joe was then introduced to Kamden, who was from Erie and visiting Arizona during a break from treatments. Joe gave the family a jersey and a bat. The family presented him with blue “Warrior Kam” bracelets. The Rockies slugger has worn them at home plate and on the field ever since. Another reminder of his blessing.
Last Wednesday, Kamden passed away. Joe was working on a personal message to send the boy for his birthday when he learned things had gotten worse.
“I just wanted to let him know how much of an impact he’s had on my life in the short time I’ve known him,” Joe said. “My heart goes out to him and his family and everything they’re going through. But I wanted him to know how many lives he impacted. The way he fought, his legacy will live on.
“It’s really hard, man,” he said. “It was in my heart.”
And sometimes it’s broken.
“Connor is one of those people, when you’re around him you automatically feel better,” said LSU baseball coach Jay Johnson, who helped recruit Joe to the University of San Diego there. has more than ten years as an assistant Toreros.
âThere won’t be a bad day when Connor Joe is here. I remember, it was during the finals in 2013, and the guys were studying and they were letting them out one by one â I had Kris for 30 minutes, then Connor for 30 minutes. And I thought, ‘I’m a lucky guy to work with this caliber of athletes and this caliber of guys.’ (Joe) has always been a clutch artist and a clutch kid. And as good an athlete as he is, he’s a better person.
Sometimes you just have to go with the flow. Shortly after Joe started chemo in March 2020, he and his wife, Kylie, were going horny in a game of cards â “Catan or Yahtzee, something like that,” Joe recalled.
When the future cult Rocky hero rubbed his palm over his scalp in frustration, a handful of his dark locks came loose.
“I looked in my hands, and there was way too much hair,” Joe said. “(My wife) was just, ‘OK, let’s do it.’
âShe was very sweet. She was great. I would have panicked if she had panicked. She’s like, ‘You’re losing your hair, let’s go to the garage and shave it off.’ And we went there and shaved it all off. It was a mess.”
A mess and a memory. One of those worst things in life that ends up being one of the best things.
“(Kylie) always said she liked me,” Joe laughed. âAnd that’s how I had my hair before. She’s learning to love him, I guess.
As for the mullet, like Black, Kylie is starting to catch on. Like a lot of things in Joe’s world these days, he’s used to growing inside of you.