Saturday, May 19, 2012

Colorado Rockies front office is slapping their fans in the face

The Rockies might find out the hard way that fans are really mad.
Year of the Fan? What a joke.

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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  1. While I agree that the fans showing up in droves sends the wrong message to the Rox front office, I still think that it is a fallacy to believe that they will "vote" by not going to the ballpark. After all is said and done, I don't think that fans have any real control over what management will or won't do.
    Now that the Rockies have been here almost 20 years (can THAT be possible), there's a tendency to think that fans can be more discerning. In reality though, there are still tens of thousands of Rockies fans who still remember what it was like to be a bush league town have no big league baseball here at all. We don't want to mess with that and risk losing the team. We lost NHL hockey here and it was a miracle that the NHL came back. We don't want to put the team in jeopardy of leaving town. To put it bluntly, I waited 41 years for real baseball, and to miss any more is NOT going to happen, if I can do anything to prevent it.
    I prefer the NFL and college football but I still will go to four or five Rockies games each year, when I really can't afford to go to even one Broncos game. Baseball still is the most affordable Major League experience in town and all things considered, the Coors Field experience beats Sports Authority, Folsom Field or Pepsi Center, especially if you taking the family. (At any Broncos game, you are almost assured that you are going to have to deal with a drunk in some way or another.)
    David, I agree that the Rox management has oversold the team and bungled the farm system. However, I don't really see the fans staying away in droves.
    Then again, I saw Tony LaRussa in the lobby of the Brown Palace last evening.(Really!) You don't suppose. . . Oh, I guess that's too much to hope for.

    1. While I agree that it is FAR better to have baseball than to not have baseball I do think that the city could lose interest. Denver is a great sports town, but we don't like losers. I don't mean that we give up on a team that loses, but we will certainly loathe those that don't try or care. I feel like these Rockies fall into that category. I can only speak for myself, but I used to go to 10-15 games per year with my boys that love baseball. We have been to 2 this year, and we won't be attending any more. I have explained to them that we don't waste our money to watch players that do not respect their fans enough to give a legitimate effort in an endeavor that they are paid very well for. The fans do not deserve an apathetic ownership that is ok with having a crappy team as long as the stadium is full (which it usually is). The difference between the Broncos and Rockies is that the Broncos start each year with the expectation of winning a championship, and if they don't the season is a failure, even though it may have been fun and exciting. Then the fans get to see what the team tries to do the next year to get better. There is no doubt in any Denver fans mind that John Elway and Pat Bowlen want to win and spend the money to do so. The Broncos fired Shanahan, (One of the saviors that finally brought home the super bowls)and McDaniels the second they thought they couldn't win anymore. They also got rid of Tebow despite the fact that he was adored, filled the stadium, and filled Bowlen's pockets full of jersey sales money because they didn't think he could win championships. It doesn't mean that any of those guys are bad guys, I still love Shanahan for bringing home the Lombardi trophy. That time has come and gone for Tracy, and even though he is a nice guy, his time has passed, and he has lost this team. The Rockies should do him a favor and fire him so he doesn't have to give his daily excuse filled drivel after each loss. Doing so and hiring Fancona or LaRussa (Please let that rumor be true) would send the fans a message that mediocrity is not OK at Coors Field, and would earn my attendance back. Until then I will find something else to do this summer since it is not even June yet and the Rockies are out of it.


  2. Craig S. Chisesi Rifle, Co.May 20, 2012 at 1:07 PM

    Having grown up with the Cubs, I understand how a full house will offset mediocrity on the field. As a kid in the '50s-'60's, we could go to any Cub game, and just walk in and pick a seat. Then the Yuppies discovered Wrigley Field. Now you need a reservation (!) to get a seat. No matter how crappy the team is, which right now is on par with the Rockies.
    Having followed the Rockies since day one (six rows up from EY's lead-off homer) and owning a "Brick" with friends near "and Cracker Jack", we have not been to a game in 2 years. Other writers are correct. Tracy has lost this team. On paper they match-up very well. In reality..... There were 7 complete game shutouts at Coors Field in 17 years, prior to 2012. So far there have been two, and this is only mid-late May. That's math that scares the heck out of me and tells me that their mind set at the plate is not on the task at hand. Too bad. As Charlie Brown said: Great potential is a heavy burden.

  3. YEA!!!!!!!!!! I've been saying that for years. O DOWD IS THE PROBLEM!!!