Editor's Note: The following post is a part of the 2013 Purple Row Writer Search -- our quest to find some great new contributors to Purple Row.
As the 2013 year begins, we look at where the Colorado Rockies rank within the big four professional sports teams currently in the Denver market. In addition, suggestions on how the Rockies can improve on their ranking.
Every year, during the late summer/early fall, ESPN the Magazine puts together their annual ranking of all 122 professional sports team. ESPN ranks these teams every year using the following criteria:
Bang for The Buck (BNG): Wins during the past three years (regular season plus postseason) per revenues directly from fans, adjusted for league schedules.
Fan Relations (FRL): Openness and consideration toward fans by players, coaches and management.
Ownership (OWN): Honesty and loyalty to core players and local community.
Affordability (AFF): Price of tickets, parking and concessions.
Stadium Experience (STX): Quality of arena and game-day promotions as well as friendliness of environment.
Players (PLA): Effort on the field and likability off it.
Coaching (CCH): Strength of on-field leadership.
Title Track (TTR): Championships already won or expected in the lifetime of current fans.
Being the homer that I am, I only care about the ranking of our Denver teams on the list, and how they rank compared to each other. In last year's ranking, this is how our teams in Denver fared:
1. Denver Broncos - NFL rank: 8, Overall: 38
2. Denver Nuggets - NBA rank: 11, Overall: 39
3. Colorado Avalanche - NHL rank: 21, Overall: 78
4. Colorado Rockies - MLB rank: 23, Overall: 85
In previous years, the Colorado Rockies have been ranked much higher on the list (peaking at No. 8 in 2011 rankings), but as with everything last season, it fell apart at the seams.
So what does it all mean? Since these rankings were released, I think a few things have changed. In my humble opinion, the Rockies have already caught and passed the Avalanche based on the problems the NHL has had with labor disputes. Another assumption, that can be safely made, is that the Denver Broncos have always and will always rule in the Rocky Mountains. With that being said, I decided to break down the 2/3 matchup (using ESPN's criteria and a few of my own) in our rankings to see how the boys in Purple and Black can gain on the Nuggets.
Bang for the Buck/Affordability: Both the Rockies and Nuggets offer competitive ticket prices within their respective sports. The Rockies rank 10th in the MLB in average ticket price, and the Nuggets ranking 19th in the NBA according to Fan Cost Experience. Both teams also offer ticket packages for families including tickets and food for select games. Where the Nuggets take this category is in the quality of the team. The Nuggets have been to the playoffs the last 9 years and will probably make it 10 this year.
How the Rockies can improve: Very simple, win games more consistently.
Fan Relations: This is an area I think the Rockies have really struggled with in previous seasons. Though their players and coaches are upfront and accommodating to both fans and media alike, the teams management has seemed to take a "we know better than you" approach to building the team ("You have to trust the organization") and shutting out media members who supply constructive criticism of the team. This is also an area where the Nuggets have excelled since Melo's Rookie year, having a great relationship with fans and media members alike.
How the Rockies can improve: Rockies management, lighten up! This is a fun game, treat it that way and don't take criticism so harshly.
Ownership/Roster building: Some of the same critiques of the Rockies from Fan Relations can be restated here. We know better than you, shutting out local media, etc. But where the Rockies have been great (almost to a fault) is loyalty to their homegrown players. I do like this approach to building a team, i.e. through the draft, but they need to be better and moving those pieces if it can make the team better. Both teams have shown a willingness to sign their young stars to long term contracts, Tulo/Cargo vs. Lawson/Gallinari, but the Nuggets seem to take a better approach to finding the right deal to make their team better, the Iguodala deal being a prime example. The Nuggets also seem to show little interest in the NBA draft since becoming a playoff contender, with Faried and Melo being the only players to make a significant impact.
How the Rockies can improve: Identifying movable pieces or underperforming players earlier on in their development and showing a willingness to move some prime pieces to make the team better.
Stadium Experience: While the Nuggets have a great stadium atmosphere and the best mascot in all of pro sports that fans love (Russell Westbrook anyone??), you just can't beat a baseball game on a Colorado summer day. I've often claimed that baseball games are the best sport to see live, with the picnic like atmosphere and time of year when games are played. Having a ball park on the level of Coors Field makes this an easy category to give to the Rockies.
How the Rockies can improve: N/A, keep up the great work!
Players: I believe that the Rockies have compiled a nice group of players that give consistent effort game in and game out, regardless of record. This is a problem I see with the Nuggets. They seem to play to the strength of their opponents. Both teams also have young talent waiting in the wings, with players like Nolan Arenado and Trevor Story being just a few years away from being major contributors to the Major League club.
How the Rockies can improve: The Rockies need to find more talented players, either in FA, trades, or within the minors, while keeping the same level of effort night in and night out.
Coaching: Rookie manager vs. 7th all-time in wins. Easy Nugget win
How the Rockies can improve: We won't know until we see Walt Weiss manage a game. I am really optimistic that about the potential impact that Dante Bichette can make on our hitters as well.
Title Track: Neither team has ever won a championship, with the Rockies being the only one to make it to their respective leagues title series. With that being said, the Nuggets are better equipped to make a title run in the short term and have been more consistent winners.
How the Rockies can improve: Like I said before, win games more consistently. The 07 World Series was one of my favorite times as a sports fan, let's recapture that!!
Coolness/Uniforms: Baseball has always been the better sport for me to watch because of the immense amount of talent and discipline that is needed to play the game, and there is nothing like watching it all comes together on a moon shot or perfectly executed double play. I also believe that the Rockies possess some of the coolest alternate uniforms in their black vest and purple top style jerseys. While the Nuggets have some sweet uniforms (love the new yellow alternates), this is an easy win for the Rockies.
How the Rockies can improve: N/A
Conclusion: As you can see above, the Rockies are still lagging behind the Nuggets, but the gap can be easily closed. The main things holding the Rockies back in relations to the Nuggets are the team's ownership and inability to become a consistent playoff contender. While I don't believe that 2013 will show the Rockies improve in these areas, 2013 will see the Rockies improve in record and ranking within the Denver market.
I wanted to highlight this story that has gone under the radar so far. Congratulations to Marc Magliaro for signing with the Rockies this past week. Marc is a pitcher/shortstop from the Division 3 Rowan Profs (short for professors). Always love to cheer for a Cinderella story like this!