|The Rockies might find out the hard way that fans are really mad.|
Maybe the Colorado Rockies meant for that to be singular, because after the 2012 campaign there might only be one fan left.
One complaint many observant writers and radio hosts around town have about Rockies fans is that they continue to show up in droves to Coors Field, regardless of the product put on the field. They don't demand success and they continue to land at 20th & Blake for the party atmosphere, completely disregarding the poor product on the field.
That is going to change. This town has tasted success. It may have been fleeting, but the runs of 2007 and 2009 were enough to make fans desire more than a fourth place team. For years that was acceptable, but Denver has grown beyond that.
Denver is a great sports town. Of course, the Broncos will always be the heart and soul of the town, but fans believe in their teams. They root passionately for them. One quality the sets Denver fans apart from those in other cities is that success isn't the only goal. Fans in Denver love the players on the team. They cling to them. They root for them. Fans in Denver don't want to see their team succeed, they want to see the players on their team succeed. For proof, look no further than fans who were angry that Tim Tebow was traded by the Broncos, despite signing one of the best quarterbacks of all time.
It might be frustrating to some, but it really does make Denver a great town. Fans dive into the personalities of the players on the team and cling on to that, rather than just rooting for whoever happens to be wearing the team's colors that season.
The problem for the Monfort's and the rest of the front office comes in at the next point. Fans in Denver demand effort. The team doesn't have to hoist a trophy at the end of the year, but the players on the team have to play with a passion that suggests that they want to be the team hoisting the trophy.
Rockies fans are notoriously loyal. They are loyal to a fault. They want to believe in their team. The reason that they kept buying tickets and spending money at Coors Field in the dark days of the early 2000's was because the team had promised that they were going to build from within. They promised that the new model--growing from within and not spending on big name free agents--would give the Rockies their best chance to succeed.
Fans hung in there. Times were tough, but there was a light at the end of the tunnel. Fans followed as names like Matt Holliday, Brad Hawpe, Jeff Francis, Garrett Atkins and Clint Barmes were bantered about in Single-A. The light at the end of the tunnel was bright, and it was worth the struggle of watching Royce Clayton and Desi Relaford play in the infield.
Fans bought in to the process. Many in the media didn't, but the true fans understood.
When the magic of 2007 happened, fans were vindicated. Their suffering was all worth while. They had a winner. The next season was a disappointment, but they would rebound. Quickly in 2009 the Rockies made the playoffs again and were becoming a respected team around the league.
Since that playoff run, however, the Rockies have been abysmal. Their farm system hasn't produced. Players who were supposed to be All-Stars proved to be overrated. Players who could have been traded when they had value were hung on to until their value was little-to-nothing.
Make no mistake, the Rockies have more youth on the way. There is plenty of talent in the lower levels of the minor leagues. There should be plenty to be excited about. However, the 2012 team was sold to fans as a team that was going to compete. They were sold to them as a team full of veterans who knew how to win. They might not be the most talented team, but they would be scrappy and fun to watch.
This team would bridge the gap until the Rockies new set of prospects made their way to the big leagues. Again, fans bought into the team. Again, fans were let down. Fans were let down, and right now they are demanding a response. They are dying to see that the front office is as heartbroken as they are about the path this team is headed down. Changing coaches or managers might not change the course of this broken season, but what it will do is send a message to the loyal fans that mediocrity isn't going to be accepted. It will tell fans that there is accountability and that poor management and poor coaching is not going to be allowed.
Are Rockies fans going to buy into another promise that the next wave of prospects will be better than the group that the team has fielded in the last two seasons? At some point, the loyalty is going to go away. Fans were willing to buy in before, but the patience is wearing.
The team can be bad on the field. If they play hard and don't make excuses fans will be fine with it. When the team is sold to the fans as a contender, then when they struggle mightily nothing is done to say that it isn't acceptable, fans will feel blindsided.
The Rockies are desperately hoping that Year of the Fan doesn't turn out to be the Last Year of the Fan.
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