It all just has a Sisyphusian feel to it at this point. The Rockies play their season and finish somewhere between last and almost-last in the division, but not so bad as to prompt any intense soul searching. Dick Monfort sends his letter to fans, demonstrating his own personal devotion to the team and avoiding any excuses for the poor results. He promises improvement. Meanwhile, across town, another franchise is celebrating if not outright success, at least a bit of excitement.
The offseason plays out with free agent targets going to more well-heeled teams or teams trying to take full advantage of their competitive window. Meanwhile, the Rockies might make a couple marginal adds along the edges, but nothing that moves the needle on a team that finished far out of contention.
The season draws near and we enter what Kenneth Weber called “Sent from my iPad” season. Monfort shows up at the annual Northern Colorado Friends of Baseball Breakfast and makes some statements for those present—which, because he does it so often, now regularly includes multiple media members. He makes a predication that ranges somewhere from audacious to delusional, and everyone in Denver media gets something to talk about for a few weeks while the Broncos season is over and the Nuggets and Avalanche are in a midseason lull (thanks, Dick!). Rockies diehards (like Purple Row readers) bemoan the embarrassment when some portion of the quote makes national headlines and the team starts getting dunked on (more on that in a minute).
Pitchers and catchers report, the team plays middling baseball, and eventually we wind up with a veteran signing that raises questions about how some of these young prospects will get plate appearances. Everyone else is more or less encourages to just play better. And all the while, Dick Monfort projects an image of optimism and excitement for the new season, despite all evidence to the contrary. Some fans disengage before the home opener, others slightly after.
Really, we could copy and paste all of this information for this column over the last several years. In fact, don’t be surprised if much of this ends up in our 2024 State of the Position.
This year, though, Monfort threw what amounts to a curveball by looping in a veiled critique of the San Diego Padres and their big spending spree over the past few years. That deserves a little extra attention, because it reveals a paradoxical aspect of Monfort’s ownership.
On one hand, Monfort wants to avoid all semblances of tanking while still putting his full belief behind building up the farm system. Members of the baseball media ecosystem tend to castigate the Rockies for not committing to a particular vision, but for every Cubs and Astros (untainted) title, there are plenty of Pirates and Royals who can’t seem to escape a rebuild. Make no mistake: a lot of things had to go right for both the 2016 Cubs and 2017 Astros to win World Series titles (as it does for any World Series champion). Maybe tanking wouldn’t work. But at least it would be doing something.
Because on the other hand, Monfort also doesn’t want to do what the Padres are doing, which is push all the chips into the center of the table and try to make something, anything happen. Maybe the kids will, in fact, be alright. But if the Rockies aren’t going to break from tradition and make a trade—whether at the deadline or for significant pieces in the offseason—they better be incredible to make a difference.
Dick Monfort has been nothing if not consistent for the Rockies over the years. That level of predictability would normally be a comfort in such a tumultuous and confusing world. But this type of consistency leaves fans disengaged and apathetic. Coors Field will continue to draw people to LoDo on summer nights—that, too, will be consistent—but unless something changes, the product on the field will continue to be as well.