Well, it's official. The Rockies have been officially relegated to the back-burner. April and May were fun, but the June Swoon and July Slide ended dreams of contention. For Denverites, the Rockies are like the Rolling Stones' warm-up band; they can play their hearts out and show a lot of spunk, but once they get shepherded off the stage all anyone cares about is the headliner.
We all know why the Broncos are the top dog in Colorado. The years of tradition. John Elway's sterling career. The mystique of playing at Mile High Stadium. The back to back championships. And of course, the consistent competitiveness.
The Rockies obviously aren't there yet. They've been trying to develop their own tradition, but they seem to cycle through identities, from the Blake Street Bombers to Todd and the Toddlers to GenR to...whatever they are now.
Todd Helton has had a fabulous, possibly Hall of Fame career, but he hasn't captured Colorado's imagination the way Elway has. Some of it is a function of the game; a quarterback is the central icon of a football team, while even the best baseball players are one of nine on the field. Some of it is personality. Helton is laid back, seemingly uncomfortable in front of a camera, and not prone to the intensity that people gravitate to. Whatever the reason, Helton is the out-of-the-way burger shack to Elway's steakhouse.
But It all comes down to winning, and building a culture where winning is expected. Since 1991 the Broncos have 18 seasons with a record of .500 or better. A couple of championships were sprinkled in there. Since their creation in 1993, the Rockies can boast only 7 better than average years. Only three of those years led to postseason play, and none of them resulted in a championship. Fans don't need a World Series title every other year, but they need to see consistent excellence in the regular season in order to buy in. Those September crowds in 2007 and 2009 were as big and rowdy as any Broncos game.
Anyway, I don't know if I have a point to all this, except that it was on my mind for some reason. Denver is a football town, and as a guy who hitched his wagon to baseball, it bums me out a little. There's room enough for two sports to capture the heart of Colorado, but it won't be given away. The Rockies will have to earn it.
Carlos Gonzalez would like to give the injury gods the finger right now, but it's still taped down. The slugger looks like he won't get any more at bats the rest of the year as his right middle finger refuses to get better. He's going to be relegated to being the most overqualified defensive replacement in history.