Fellow Rockies fans, I’m exhausted.
First, there are the endless rumors about Nolan Arenado trades. They come from MLB reporters like Ken Rosenthal, more SB Nation baseball sites than I can count (see here, here, and here), Denver Post reporter Patrick Saunders, and even Nick Groke, who spent a lengthy column fabricating a trade with Rangers reporter Jamey Newberg. (Nick, buddy, how could you?) On Monday, Arenado, who finds himself in the center of a storm he did not create, commented on the speculation, saying, “I’m getting ready like I do every year.”
All of this comes after earlier rumors surrounding possible Jon Gray trades.
Could the Rockies easily stop this? Sure. Instead, we get cryptic Jeff Bridich-speak that the Rockies will listen to all offers. The rational part of my brain says, “That makes sense;” the emotional part screams, “HOW CAN YOU TOY WITH OUR EMOTIONS?!?!”
The rumors — and I’m in the camp that believes they are rumors because the Rockies see themselves as contenders in 2020 — are exhausting after a disappointing 2019 season. It’s like someone saying maybe they’ll ask out your significant other — and then they start speculating about how awesome the date will be. I get it’s fiction. I get it’s fun for the other person. It is not, however, fun for you. And it is especially not fun during an offseason that opened with Dick Monfort explaining the Rockies would not be making any big splashes because of limited “financial flexibility.” While everyone else fantasizes about their team in 2020, apparently we’ll be working on our new Rockies-specific metric coined by the Purple Dinosaur Podcast, “GPB” — “Guys Playing Better.”
Second, this offseason has been deadly for fandom. The Denver Post’s Sean Keeler voices significant criticism of Bridich’s decision-making. As Keeler writes of the Rockies even floating the idea of a potential Arenado trade, “[C]ommon sense also says the very conversation is mental, that dangling a Hall of Fame talent on the open market is one kidney punch too many for a fan base that’s taken enough abuse as it is.”
This season has been tough on my fandom — and for me, it’s less about the Rockies’ 71-91 record (which was bad) than it is about the ways in which the front office has interacted with fans (which was worse). The season began with the Bridich brain-surgeon comments (that were never walked back) and ended with a presser preparing us for a bargain-basement offseason and a 2020 built on hope. I can suffer through things, but to do that, I need to feel like I’m part of a community working for a better tomorrow — and right now, while I am connected to a community of fans, I do not feel like the front office sees any of us as part of a group effort. (Well, they want me to renew my Flex Pass, but that’s not exactly what I had in mind.)
Perhaps the front office is right to use hope as a strategy for 2020 because maybe 2019 was just a really bad season for the Rockies. Frankly, I hope they’re right, though neither the evidence nor early 2020 projections suggest this is a good plan. Moreover, despite preaching hope, the front office has overlooked the extent to which hope is key to fandom. Hope keeps fans engaged.
We want the Rockies to win, and we enjoy thinking of ways in which our team can compete next year. Although the MLB writers probably just want clicks from the speculation, it’s why other fans are dreaming about their team trading for Nolan Arenado. An Arenado trade brings hope. Who can blame them? We know how amazing he is, and when we’ve been down about the Rockies, Nolan is that bright light that makes us say, “Yes, but we have Nolan Arenado.”
So, Rockies Front Office, you’ve got a fandom that could use a little hope. Could you, at the very least, put out a statement to stop the rumors about a Nolan Arenado trade? It’s unorthodox, I know, but it would help us get through a long January before spring training begins. (As an added plus, it would be relatively inexpensive.)
An exhausted fandom waits.