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Gorbachev he isn’t: Dick Monfort’s 'Sinatra Doctrine'

Rockies owner Dick Monfort is doing things his way, for better or worse. (HINT: Worse)

Doug Pensinger

Editor's note: I originally posted this here, where I supposedly write history-related things from time to time.

In 1989, a Soviet foreign ministry spokesman, Gennadi Gerasimov, coined the phrase for the USSR's policy toward its Warsaw Pact neighbors:

"We now have the Frank Sinatra doctrine," said Gerasimov. "He has a song, 'I (Did) It My Way.' So every country decides on its own which road to take."1

That remark came on 25 October, roughly two weeks before East German spokesman Günter Schabowski conducted a press conference while East German leaders continued in a meeting that was running longer than scheduled. As he finished talking with reporters, Schabowski had one last announcement to make when a journalist asked him about travel rules: the East German government had adopted new regulations. However, he rambled on, much as he did during the hour-long press conference, while attempting to explain the new travel laws because he had barely read them before talking with the media. Journalists sought clarification for when they went into effect, leading to an "Immediately" and more obfuscation as he ended the session. Media reports began to trickle out that the Berlin Wall was open; while untrue at the moment, the wall did open several hours later when East German citizens crowded the streets and began to cross the wall that had constructed a peace of sorts.2

Because the Soviets did not use force to stop the destruction of the Berlin Wall, the peaceful end to the Cold War continued. Gorbachev's policy of allowing Eastern European countries to conduct their own affairs -- actually a post-hoc explanation for Soviet policy rather than a proactive one -- proved right in the end, though the consequences were far too great for him to handle.

Nearly 25 years later, we have a different version of the "Sinatra Doctrine," promoted by none other than Colorado Rockies owner Dick Monfort. During #AskTheOwner on Twitter we found out what his walk-up song would be:

That really does explain everything about Monfort. He'll do it his way no matter what -- even if the results don't show it working.

"The record shows I took the blows and did it my way!"

When asked why Dan O'Dowd is still around, Monfort's answer fell flat:

Seven years ago. Five years ago. Coming up short four years ago doesn't count. Top minor league system? Right, according to Topps. But that's not really an award with merit. Rosenort broke down how the Rockies got that award in the comments of Tuesday's Rockpile. Playoffs twice every five years? The chasm from the end of 2009 to the start of 2014 is vast.

I've loved, I've laughed and cried
I've had my fill, my share of losing

I'm not going to shout bloody hell that the team has been less than mediocre for seasons, that trading Dexter Fowler netted a "good" starter and center fielder, or about any of the other responses given on Tuesday. It serves no purpose. The answers are good for chuckles, though.

I don't doubt that he wants more than anyone else for the Rockies to win; I just doubt that he knows the way to do it.3

And may I say, not in a shy way,
"Oh, no, oh, no, not me, I did it my way"

The eminent British military historian Michael Howard wrote years ago in a much different context:

The military may protest that this is not the kind of war that they joined up to fight, and taxpayers that they see little return for their money. But as I said earlier, this is the only war we are likely to get: it is also the only kind of peace. So let us have no illusions about it.4

Let me amend that for the Rockies: The players may not have signed up to play this kind of baseball, and the fans see little return for their money. But this is the only baseball we really know: it is also the only kind we are likely to see. So let us have no illusions about it.

For what is a man, what has he got?
If not himself, then he has naught
To say the things he truly feels and not the words of one who kneels
The record shows I took the blows and did it my way!

Yes, it was my way.


1. "'Sinatra Doctrine' at Work in Warsaw Pact, Soviet Says", Reuters, 25 October 1989.

2. See Sarotte, Mary Elise, 1989, pp. 35-45, for the opening of the Berlin Wall. Get your hands on a copy of Marc Trachtenberg's A Constructed Peace for an analysis on how the building of the Berlin Wall brought peace to the Cold War.

3. Of course, Dick Monfort could also be a highly-advanced artificial intelligence (think the Omnius Evermind but with the body of Erasmus the thinking machine) who understands that humans don't really have the patience for long-term planning. His calculations may show that the Rockies will need to scuffle along for a century or two before they can win the World Series. Look out in 200 years when Cymek Dan O'Dowd finally has the Commissioner's Trophy presented to him and announces that he is the Kwisatz Haderach. Or he's just a fan of bad Dune stories by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson and has taken to heart the conversations Omnius and Erasmus have, only furthering the rolling over in his grave that Frank Herbert has been doing since the early 2000s. Or none of the above.

4. Howard, Michael (2006) 'A Long War?', Survival, 48:4, 7 - 14.