I am not the most pessimistic person when it comes to the Rockies. I have gone to great lengths to defend the team and its front office to people all over the Internet, as well as the outside world. I've engaged in confrontations with well-known columnists, washed-up TV show hosts and former MLB players, up-and-coming radio show hosts -- you name it. And that doesn't even speak to how defensive I get about the team when having baseball conversations with people whose opinions I actually respect.
So, as I sit here typing, while literally wearing my Rockies cap, I have come to a crossroads. I say that because the problems that are plaguing this organization go far beyond the team's performance on the field. Many people have written about the Rockies' complete and utter lack of accountability from top to bottom. On one hand, it's something that I have become sick of hearing about. But, on the other hand, once you hear the same thing so many times from so many different people, it starts to resonate.
In talking to several people who cover the Rockies, as well as others close to the organization, one thing has been consistently brought up: the Rockies' public relations staff is brutal to people who cover the team in what they feel is a negative light. Brutal, as in they refuse to grant any sort of credentials, send out condescending emails in response to information inquiries, and just have a general "living in the 1970's" feel about them. Granted, "old school" doesn't always mean "bad," but this is a different kind of "living in the past."
In the case of Denver-area radio show host Peter Burns, the unnecessary brashness seems to have come back to bite the club's PR staff. In an open letter to the Rockies organization posted on Mile High Sports, Burns ripped the club for refusing to grant a request to interview Michael Cuddyer, who is the Rockies' nomination for the Roberto Clemente award, which honors outstanding service to a player's community. At first, I just thought this had sour grapes written all over it. But then, I dug deeper.
Click past the jump to read more. A LOT more.
Let me start by saying I'm not a huge fan of Peter Burns, the sports talk show host. Mostly, I've been less than thrilled about the "Road To 100" movement that he, along with some other people, have been credited (or, in my case, blamed) for starting. Losing 100 games won't change anything any more than losing 86 or 91 or 96 games would. However, Burns also started another movement -- a foundation, actually -- for Jessica Redfield, whose life was taken much too early in the Aurora theater shooting of July 20. For this, I am a fan of Peter Burns, the person.
So, when I did some digging, I was very disappointed to see the following:
To provide some background, Cuddyer's nomination was due to his generosity toward A Precious Child Inc., which was actively supported by Redfield. A Precious Child, Inc., is a partner of the Jessica Redfield Foundation, which again, was co-founded by Burns. So, that's why Burns wanted an opportunity to give thanks to Cuddyer by helping to promote his candidacy for the award.
Unfortunately, the crusty, jaded Rockies' PR staff had their own agenda.
My answer from #Rockies Front Office was: Because of what has been written and said about the Rockies, we politely decline your request.— Peter Burns (@PeterBurnsRadio) September 19, 2012
In case you're unaware, the job of a public relations department is to not only manage the flow of information between its organization and the public, but also to generally keep a positive image of said organization. By doing the above, the Rockies massively failed at this. Peter Burns is not responsible for the Rockies' terrible play on the field, the Rockies are responsible. So, it is inexcusable for the club to do something like this when there was no possible way that they would come out of the interview smelling like anything but roses.
The Rockies ended up backpedaling, as they later called the station which airs Burns' show and granted the interview request. However, by that point, the damage had already been done. Seeing tweet after tweet talking about how people are ashamed to wear Rockies gear is a tough thing. And one thing that I realize now that I may not have before is that's the Rockies' problem, not those particular people's problem.
It's not just this situation that has made me come to the conclusion that I'm at my wits end with the way the Rockies are run. And, it's not even necessarily the terrible product on the field that is responsible, either. Sure, they're 60 games under .500 over the past two calendar years, but I can live with that. What I can't live with is the fact that I am certain that the Rockies' PR director won't get anything more than a slap on the wrist for this incident, and that the people running the organization will continue to be out of touch with reality for as long as they want to be.
We may never really know how much of an impact the late Keli McGregor had on the Rockies. However, the club has never been more successful than when he was a part of the day-to-day operations. With what we've seen since his passing, it appears that he may have been the glue holding everything together. And, it's not that farfetched of an idea; with McGregor as the team president, there was someone who could hold people like Dan O'Dowd and Jay Alves accountable for their poor decision making and other various shortcomings that the two obviously have.
Notice in that last line, I used Alves' name for the first time in this piece. As many of you know, it is one of my dreams to be able to cover the Rockies professionally; to get that access that so few people (Troy Renck, Thomas Harding, Tracy Ringolsby and a select number of others) have. However, the Rockies will not allow people to be critical of the team, or perhaps more accurately, the front office. Alves is the main force behind that. By mentioning his name, as well as by "bashing" the team, I've probably destroyed my chances of being able to reach that level with this article. However, I have no regrets. Not right now. Not with this situation.
Who knows how widespread news of the Rockies' PR staff's insensitivity and stupidity will get. Who knows if it even is news -- maybe it's just news to me because I don't live in Denver. Maybe everyone else already knows this. Maybe it's why the Rockies will always play second, third, or even fourth fiddle in town. The Broncos, Nuggets and Avalanche all stepped up to the plate the first time they were asked. The Rockies, on the other hand, may have flushed any goodwill they received from their initial handling of the Aurora theater shootings down the toilet, reconsideration or not.
I am loyal, to a fault, to the Colorado Rockies. I have hung my hat on the fact they used a build-from-within model to nearly win a championship. I have lauded the club for its willingness to try unconventional things in a game where anything other than conventional will get you killed in the media. I've even written -- recently, in fact -- about how classy of an organization the Rockies are. I'm willing to admit that I was wrong.
At least somebody has some accountability.