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|Dick Monfort simply doesn’t get it.
Dick Monfort is fiercely loyal. Nearly everyone agrees on that.
That is what everyone says about the Colorado Rockies owner. That is why he hasn’t done what the owners of 27 other teams have done, some several times, since he hired Dan O’Dowd to be the general manager of the Rockies. Since 1999, when O’Dowd was brought on board, all but two teams have fired their GM’s. Both of those teams, the Yankees and the Giants, have won multiple World Championships under their current GM.
The Rockies, however, haven’t come close to winning two World Series in that time. In fact, over that course of time, O’Dowd’s Rockies have only had four winning seasons. They have been to the playoffs just twice, and they have failed to win a National League West title. In the same amount of time, every other team in the NL West has won that division at least twice.
In a stark contrast to the way the Rockies operate, on Monday, that Atlanta Braves dismissed general manager Frank Wren. This year is a huge disappointment for the Braves, whose lackluster offense and injuries killed their season. However, Wren was highly successful in his six-season stint.
The Braves had the talent to go to the playoffs. They are good enough to be successful. However, they simply failed to get the job done, and it was time for him to go. There were no excuses good enough to save Wren. It was success or nothing, especially after breaking the budget to sign Ervin Santana.
Bryan Kilpatrick from Purple Row penned a great piece highlighting some of the stark differences between the way the Rockies run things compared to the Braves.
While the majority of those who know Dick Monfort say that he is loyal to a fault, that word isn’t the proper term to describe the Rockies owner. The proper term that should be used isn’t loyal, it is stubborn. It isn’t that Monfort is loyal to O’Dowd and is willing to see his plan through, it is that Monfort is too prideful and stubborn to believe that the guy who he has put so much faith into isn’t good enough to get the job done.
The problem is that Monfort doesn’t know enough about baseball to even know where to look for a replacement, let alone realize that there are better candidates than O’Dowd and his failing philosophies. Monfort has to rely on his general manager to tell him about players and statistics and potential trades. The average baseball fan knows more than Dick Monfort about baseball. Monfort has never learned because he listens to O’Dowd and believes everything he says.
Oftentimes, fans will describe Monfort as a savvy business man, but not a good baseball man. While the latter half of that statement is correct, the first half couldn’t be further from the truth. Name one successful business man who knows nothing about the business that he or she operates. After being the principle owner for the past decade and a half, Monfort still doesn’t know anything about his competitors, the rules of the game, how free agency works, or the farm system. In a chat with fans on Twitter before the season, Monfort told fans that he was proud that the Rockies had the best farm system in baseball. That statement was related to the award that had recently been given to the club from Topps. That award is given to the organization with the most players of the week throughout the minor league season.
Winning players of the week awards is great, but it isn’t necessarily indicative of the best farm system in baseball. In fact, the cupboards have been very barren for several years in the Rockies farm until this past season in which a new group of prospects emerged to give the franchise hope.
The point remains, however, that Monfort had no idea what that award meant, and he had no reference point to why the Rockies haven’t been able to develop talent. If Monfort is such a great business man, it probably isn’t asking too much to believe that he actually should have a basic knowledge of how his industry works.
The problem is, Monfort doesn’t know baseball enough, and doesn’t understand fans enough to realize that while Coors Field might always have decent attendance, that at some point, Rockies fans are going to go away. Coors Field will always be a great place to spend a summer night, but if the product on the field doesn’t improve, the newly minted fans from the 2007 and 2009 playoff runs will find something else to do. The passion in Denver for baseball will be redirected to a healthier obsession, one that doesn’t make the person with the passion continuously angry.
Fans might still show up, but the amount of innings that they spend at the game will probably diminish, instead choosing to spend their time at the bars and restaurants around Coors Field.
Rockies fans have grumbled in years past, but the 2014 season was a boiling point for them. The asinine emails that Monfort sent out to the fan base was icing on the cake. It quickly became clear that the combination of O’Dowd failing at his job, with Monfort making baseball decisions when he clearly has no business even participating in the average fans baseball conversations, is the biggest problem that the Rockies face.
If Monfort believes that status quo is just fine, he is in for a big surprise. Colorado simply offers too many great entertainment options in the summer for baseball fans to continue to spend their time and money at Coors Field. Will the average fan still come out to games? Absolutely. However, instead of a season ticket package, or a mini-plan, those fans will choose to go out to the old ballpark four or five times instead of twice per homestand.
In years past, Rockies fans simply forgave and forgot about the transgressions of the Rockies over the winter. However, the flame of anger is different this year. It seems that the threat to not go to games anymore used to be an idle one. This time is seems serious. If the Rockies don’t make major changes, the fans might let Dick Monfort and his ownership team understand their disapproval by not wasting their time and money at Coors Field when the team has no chance to make a run and only makes excuses for it.
Dick Monfort isn’t loyal, he is stubborn, and he is going to pay the price for it if he doesn’t do anything at the conclusion of the Rockies season.