Take a moment to consider these comments from Rockies owner Dick Monfort:
“I’m the most frustrated person in the world.”
“This year was very tough. It was without a doubt the hardest year I’ve been through.”
Seems like fair assessments for 2020, right? From an owner in a sport that slashed its season to one third the usual size where the average club lost $100 million, on top of the team having a lousy, far-from-playoff-worthy season?
It would make sense, except for the fact that these comments came after the 2019 end-of-the-season press conference, where Monfort also said, “I don’t think we have a lot of flexibility next year of making some great big splash.”
So, if that’s how Monfort felt after 2019, how is he coping with 2020? Last year, the Rockies had their season-ending press conference on Oct. 2, but it’s been nothing but crickets from the Rockies this October. That changed on Thursday when Monfort sent an email to season ticket holders.
The email opens with wishes of good health for all and commiserating about the challenges of living in a pandemic. Then he expresses the missing “heartbeat” of the organization: fans at Coors Field. Monfort said, “I truly missed you at the ballpark, but more notably, your absence was felt by our players. Even with only 30 home games this year, it was still the first time since 2015 that we had a losing record at home. It just wasn’t the same without your energy and rallying cheers.” While that’s a fair take, 17 other teams managed to play .500 ball or better at home without their fans in 2020.
After acknowledging the unique challenges of a 2020 season, Monfort also says, “our record on the field fell far short of our expectations.” So at least we are on the same page there.
He also takes the chance to shout out Charlie Blackmon’s hot start, the emergence of Raimel Tapia, and Daniel Bard’s unbelievable comeback. Addressing the solution to the 2020 results, Monfort doesn’t get very specific, saying, “Looking forward, an important offseason focus is to create more group consistency throughout the course of the season; to be playoff contenders, we are well aware that the strong momentum we started the 2020 season with must be maintained and carried into the postseason.”
Consistency would be great. From the offense and the pitchers. But how?
Last year, Rockies fans knew there wouldn’t be “a big splash,” but we hoped for cash from a new multiple-year deal with AT&T Sports Networks that would start in 2021 would mean that the 2020 offseason would be different.
Then COVID happened. This was obviously totally out of the Rockies control and they will likely not be the only team that doesn’t make any big signings, like was the case in the 2019-2020 offseason when the Rockies spent the least amount of money of all teams in the MLB, limiting spending to over half a million dollars on Jose Mujica. While the Rockies also signed Bard and Matt Kamp, they were both added on for minor league deals. And to be fair, the Bard signing was brilliant and the Kemp signing wasn’t a total bust, but Kemp also didn’t deliver his hoped-for Coors Field numbers.
According to MLB commissioner Rob Manfred, the MLB’s “30 teams have amassed a collective $8.3 billion in debt and will post anywhere from $2.8 to $3.0 billion in combined operational losses.” In his email, Monfort said, “The financial losses incurred across baseball in 2020 are astounding, with losses at nearly $3 billion industry wide and the average club losing nearly $100 million. It will take time to rebound, and in some cases, these losses will never be recovered. As a result, there will be nothing normal about this offseason as the industry faces a new economic reality, and each club will have to adjust.”
Even though this is not surprising, the numbers and their consequences are hit hard. This could result in horrible decisions for organizations to make from turning furloughs into layoffs for some employees, further downsizing, continued uncertain futures from stadium staff, and very limited spending on free agents, despite a market that is flooded with stars like DJ LeMahieu, J.T. Realmuto, Trevor Bauer, George Springer, Marcus Semien, and Marcell Ozuna to name a few.
On the bright side, “nothing normal about this offseason,” considering that a “normal” offseason includes limited spending or big contracts for free agents past their primes, maybe this could be good.
He concludes the email with a heavy dose of optimism: “Our hope is to play at least 81 games with fans at Coors Field in 2021, all the while providing you with an exceptional and safe experience that ultimately leads us to playing postseason games in October.” While it’s vital for us all to have hope, a whole lot would have to change over the next five months for fans to be gathering together to cheer on a Rocktober team. So much in fact, that I just can’t even get my hopes up for either scenario.
Here is the email in its entirety:
I hope this email finds you and your families healthy and safe. It has been a challenging year and my heart goes out to the millions of people that have been affected by the health pandemic we have all faced. Loved ones have been lost, businesses have closed putting people out of work, kids’ educations have been interrupted, and our lives in general have been turned upside down. Truly a sad time for so many. As we strive to keep everything happening in our lives in perspective, we know baseball is just a game, but it will survive because it represents so much more to so many people. Baseball has never been needed more to provide some relief from the trials of this difficult year.
Now that the 2020 season has come to an end and the industry made it through the World Series, I wanted to reach out to you, the heartbeat of the Rockies organization. Never before has it been more apparent than this year that we need our fans at Coors Field. I truly missed you at the ballpark, but more notably, your absence was felt by our players. Even with only 30 home games this year, it was still the first time since 2015 that we had a losing record at home. It just wasn’t the same without your energy and rallying cheers. Our goal is to get through this historical challenge so we can welcome you, the best fans in all of baseball, back to 20th and Blake come April 1, 2021!
We had no idea that when we were asked to leave Spring Training last March that we would have a shortened regular season with no attendees. It was very difficult to get through those 60 games, putting our staff, coaches and players through the unbelievably challenging exercise of keeping everyone healthy and safe - the word “fluid” definitely became part of my vocabulary this year. But by taking the situation very seriously and vigilantly adhering to the city, state, CDC and MLB safety protocols, we made it to the finish line, though our record on the field fell far short of our expectations.
Taking no time off, our baseball operations department is charting a course for the coming months leading into 2021. In spite of the shortened, roller coaster 2020 season, there were unmistakable positive performances to build on: Charlie Blackmon’s dominant first month, Raimel Tapia’s emergence at the top of the lineup, the consistently competitive group performance of our starting rotation, and of course Daniel Bard’s inspiring achievement that led to his well-deserved NL Comeback Player of the Year Award. Looking forward, an important offseason focus is to create more group consistency throughout the course of the season; to be playoff contenders, we are well aware that the strong momentum we started the 2020 season with must be maintained and carried into the postseason.
The financial losses incurred across baseball in 2020 are astounding, with losses at nearly $3 billion industry wide and the average club losing nearly $100 million. It will take time to rebound, and in some cases, these losses will never be recovered. As a result, there will be nothing normal about this offseason as the industry faces a new economic reality, and each club will have to adjust. It will take all of us working together to face the uncertain months ahead with determination and hope, and then be ready for a 2021 season. I have faith in our staff and our fans — we must and will make it through this — so please stay tuned for updates from us over the course of the coming months.
As we plan for 2021, you will soon receive a statement updating you on the status of your season ticket account. You can be assured that your satisfaction is most important to us, and we will always make every effort to accommodate your needs to the best of our ability in order to keep Rockies baseball a part of your life.
I will leave you with this: Our hope is to play at least 81 games with fans at Coors Field in 2021, all the while providing you with an exceptional and safe experience that ultimately leads us to playing postseason games in October.
My best wishes for your continued health and safety. Thank you all.
Richard L. Monfort
Owner/Chairman & CEO
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Vote now for the 2020 All-MLB Team | MLB.com
I love voting! Voting for the 2020 All-MLB Team is now open. (The MLB also has a voting website if anyone needs help in making voting plans or understanding rules for the other voting that happens this time of year.) This MLB ballot is a little depressing though because there aren’t many Rockies in the running, not even Nolan Arenado. That’s how bad 2020 sucks.
When I say not many, I mean only one: Trevor Story. So, he needs our votes. Fans get one vote per 24 hours through noon Mountain Time on Nov. 13. Former Rockies like DJ LeMahieu and Drew Pomeranz are also on the ballot.
Joe Harvey didn’t have a bad season in 2020. The problem is he just didn’t have much of one. He only pitched 3 1⁄3 innings, but he didn’t give up a run. He started the season in the alternate training sight, came up, and then his season ended on Aug. 20 when he left with a right forearm strain. Harvey is now eligible to opt for free agency.
As Thomas Harding notes, Harvey’s demotion puts the Rockies roster at 34, not including Ian Desmond, who opted out of 2020, and injured players Peter Lambert, Scott Oberg, and David Dahl. For all four players, Sunday is the deadline to reinstate them to the roster.
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