Most of us are familiar with the children's parable "The Boy Who Cried Wolf." It is a simple and easy-to-understand story with a simple and easy-to-understand moral: if you lie in abundance, people will stop believing you even when you are telling an important truth.
But there is a hidden message to the story outside the dangers inherent in poisoning the well of trustworthiness: just because someone has been mostly full of bovine excrement of late does not mean they are as such always, and failing to heed their warnings could get you eaten by a wolf.
We are supposed to learn the moral from the perspective of the boy, but what about the people in the village? Should they not have at least sent a scout rather than assuming with certainty that an untrustworthy source couldn't possibly have accurate information?
Was it not worth their lives to double-check that one?
So, when the Colorado Rockies inevitably emerge from whatever is accomplished (or not) from this offseason with the mantra that they will compete in 2015 — or the party line that so many grow weary of about "if we're healthy ..." — it is understandable that their past transgressions would make one reluctant to be a believer.
We've heard it all before.
And while that doesn't mean it won't be true this time (or that it will), Jeff Bridich, as an autonomous human being, deserves nothing but patience and respect from Rockies fans in his first year on the job. Similarly, Dick and Charlie Monfort are going to be the owners of this team for the foreseeable future and so calling a truce and wiping the scores clean Chris Hardwick-style would likely be wise for all parties involved.
We need to learn to trust the Rockies again. Not to buy everything they sell, or honestly anything that they sell, but enough to send out that proverbial scout; to believe just enough in the intentions of Bridich and company not to dismiss everything they say or do out-of-hand.
Let us leave the past behind. It's all over now, baby blue. Dan O'Dowd is gone. Bill Geivett is gone. Let us not be as Red Sox fans and turn them into our own version of Bill Buckner, a figure who inspired anger long after he was gone. Let us be better than that. Let us move on.
The beginning of a new era
To believe these changes as cosmetic would be to ignore the fundamentals of human nature. We here at Purple Row have also recently undergone a change in leadership. Bryan Kilpatrick, much like Jeff Bridich, is going to need some time before he can even begin to make his full impact and so if ever the term "small sample size" applies, it is in regard to this offseason.
But let us also dispel the notion that inactivity and praying for the best has really been the modus operandi for the club.
Our man, RhodeIslandRoxFan, put it best in a recent comment thread here on Purple Row:
If you take the 30 players (15 hitters with the most plate appearances and 15 pitchers with the most innings) with the most playing time in 2011, only six of them were on the roster in 2014. The are Troy Tulowitzki, Carlos Gonzalez, Jorge De La Rosa, Jhoulys Chacin, Juan Nicasio, and Matt Belisle (and Nicasio and Belisle are already gone so it's now down to four).
The idea that they keep bringing back the same team over and over again just hoping for better luck year after year after year is a myth. That roster has been almost completely turned over during the dry spell, and now there's been changes in the front office too.
Unless you define "doing something" as making wholesale changes to the top of the roster, the Rockies absolutely have been active in recent years, so waiting and observing at this moment qualifies as a potentially prudent change of pace.
Now is not the time to be making drastic changes anyway unless you think the team can compete in 2015, which most don't. Even if you want a complete rebuild, such an option will still be available and will achieve better results if executed next summer.
Any significant move made to make the team better right now limits their flexibility in the future and any move toward a significant rebuild is at least slightly premature. There is no reason to rush right now other than to make people feel better. And that's not a good enough reason.
You see, the team is almost a mirror of their star Troy Tulowitzki: a wide array of possible outcomes due to injury concerns and able to support a myriad of conflicting but at times equally believable theories.
And they are both at an odd time in their history.
The man, RIRF, spittin' hot-fire truth once more:
...people tend to underestimate the effectiveness of teams improving from within and overestimate the impact of some clubs who grab the headlines because there's a general misunderstanding among baseball fans how drastically a roster composed of the same general names can change in terms of success from one year to another.
If you really want to take this to the extreme, take two clubs who did very little last off season and went in completely opposite directions: The 2013 / 2014 Red Sox and the 2013 / 2014 Giants. In 2013, the Red Sox had a roster that finished 21 games ahead of the Giants, and in 2014 the Giants had a roster that finished 17 games ahead of the Red Sox. That's a 38 game swing! 38 FREAKING GAMES!!! Look at what each of those clubs did last winter. There's no way in hell that should have resulted in a 38 game swing. .... No way that is unless people dramatically underestimate the possibility of change from within when you bring back the same players.
The Rockies have every reason to believe they can be a team that has a major swing in positive results with very little tinkering. They dramatically under-performed their pythag win expectancy score last season. They got nothing from Carlos Gonzalez, who is likely to bounce back healthy both physically and mentally. They are unlikely to pitch 14 different starters and have the worst bullpen in the history of baseball again next season. They have youth in Nolan Arenado, Corey Dickerson, Tyler Matzek, as well as Eddie Butler and potentially Jon Gray and Tyler Anderson who could all add extra WAR next season.
And Daniel Descalso is better than Charlie Culberson.
But if they are wrong, which they may well be, the beauty lies in the incredible likelihood that their best trade pieces will be even more valuable at the deadline next July than they are today. No reason to rush.
Where are we? Where should we be? And where are we going?
"Expectation is the root of all heartache," so sayeth William Shakespeare.
So let us also keep in mind this holiday season that our suffering is not ours alone. Baseball is a cruel mistress to all her companions.
My man RIRF, once more:
The reality is that no team is consistently the playoff team anymore.
The Dodgers? They've won the division two years in a row but before that missed it three straight times while finishing at least eight games back each year.
The Yankees? Not anymore. They've missed the playoffs two years in a row now.
The Cardinals? Close. They've made it four years in a row now (including four straight trips to at least the LCS), but they went four straight years without winning a playoff game before that.
Red Sox? Nope! They've actually missed the playoffs four out of the last five seasons now.
Giants? No. They've won three World Series recently, but they've also been at least ten games under .500 five times in the last ten years.
Tigers? Like the Cardinals they've got a case for the closest recently (four straight division titles), but now that division seems to be catching them (They also only made the playoffs once in the 23 years before this run).
The A's? Three straight playoff trips, but five straight years without getting over .500 before that.
I think that covers most of the big ones but it rings true for all 30 teams. You just don't go to the playoffs in the MLB every single year anymore.
And those are the best teams.
The Chicago Cubs are the sixth best team in winning percentage all time in MLB at .511. Which is funny, because you don't tend to think of barely-more-than-half or the Chicago Cubs when discussing historically significant winning.
Failure has always been a more fundamental characteristic to baseball than success. This is why I refuse to see failure as sufficient evidence for a lack of trying. We discussed above why a lack of moves do not necessarily amount to a lack of trying, but quite frankly I think such notions have gotten out of hand. Major League was an awesome movie, but it's not real, guys.
We could all say plenty about Dan O'Dowd. God knows we have. But one thing I can absolutely promise you, without a shadow of a doubt, is that he loves Colorado Rockies baseball as much as the purplest die-hard who posts on this site. I'm sure the Monforts and Bridich feel the same way.
Let us all bond over that.
And let us not let losing be the master of our demise. For losing is the common bond that hold us all together like drops in the sea.
We love the Rockies. All of us. And for better or worse, their losing has helped define who each and every one of us is. It will define the stories we pass on to our posterity. It is in our purple blood. It's what makes us family. It's easy to stick together when things are merry and bright. Die-hard Rockies fans are a family that has been through a lot together but the difference is we choose this.
Doris Kearns Goodwin:
When the Sox won the pennant in 1986, my boys were absolutely certain they would win the World Series. I, of course, was less sure, having been at the edge of victory so many times before only to see my hopes dashed at the final moment. Yet by the sixth game, with the Sox leading 3 games to 2 over the Mets and ahead 5-3 in the bottom of the tenth, I told my husband to break out the champagne. Then, of course, in an agonizing replay of the Bobby Thomson fiasco, Boston first baseman Bill Buckner let a routine grounder slip through his legs and the Mets came back to win both the game and the World Series.
I tried to control my emotions but I couldn't. "Mom, it's all right," my boys consoled me. "They'll win next year. Don't worry."
Oh, my God, I thought. These kids don't know yet that the Sox haven't won since 1918, that this may be as close as they will ever come in any of our lifetimes. Suddenly I felt possessed of a terrible wisdom that I did not ever want to impart to my children.
"Right," I said. "Wait till next year."
It can be hard to embrace but baseball is a tragic play — where more characters are dead by the end than alive — that unfolds before our eyes every summer and autumn, like a gift of the magi, bringing equal parts unapproachable joy and indescribable anguish. Nobody wins all the time. Not even the Yankees.
But it's a play we share with each other. The critics, curmudgeons and haters right along with the homers, believers, and flock-like. It is our game. And we ought remember that as often as humanly possible. That is why we will keep coming back, It is also why, at some point or another, we are going to need to learn to trust the Rockies again.
This game is a gift born in the cracks and crevasses of the American soul. And like all gifts, it has the potential to be taken for granted.
But even though we may not always be able to be there for every moment of baseball, it — not the teams, the owners, the front-offices, the players, the coaches, the "laundry", the pundits, or the stats — but the perfect game of baseball, will always be there for us.
Merry Christmas, everyone.