The Colorado Rockies are in one of the worst places in their franchise history. For the first time, the team is all but guaranteed 100 losses in what is already one of the worst seasons for the franchise. Due to the continued downward spiral of the team, it leaves many to question or downright demand that certain changes be made, leaving manager Bud Black in the crosshairs of that conversation.
I am not here to assert whether Black should be relieved of his managerial duties or not. During his tenure as manager, he has done some good in helping mentor young players even though the results of the product on the field have degraded significantly since the back-to-back playoff appearances in 2017 and 2018. Finding the right person to lead is one of the hardest things to do in life, but it’s worth looking at some examples of the right leader to help a struggling team.
Perhaps the biggest story in college football, or even sports in general, is the arrival of Deion Sanders as the new head coach for the Colorado University Buffalos. Sanders, better known as Coach Prime, is well-known for his charismatic demeanor and attitude. Everywhere he has gone he has found success as a player and as a coach. Once he was hired at CU, he immediately went to work overhauling his roster so that he would be able to compete right away. Many questioned his tactics, but after starting the season 2-0, things are looking pretty good for Coach Prime and the Buffs.
Sanders is a born leader. He takes pride in his efforts to inspire and lead the young men he has been charged with stewardship over. His ability to inspire and unite his players to raise their inherent abilities towards a common goal is essential. Just look at this pregame speech below.
Deion Sanders’ pregame speech to his team will make you want to run through a wall pic.twitter.com/AMcUGLHBRr— Jomboy Media (@JomboyMedia) September 3, 2023
A leader’s best quality is his ability to inspire his players and lead them into battle. He makes his players want to be better and helps them get to that point. He is responsible for helping foster energy and the culture in the locker room/clubhouse. Deion Sanders is a quintessential example of what the right leader can do for a team in need of change.
Another Payton for the Broncos
The Denver Broncos have been trying to find the right leader since they won the Super Bowl in 2016. The 2023-24 season marks the fifth head coach for the Broncos. The team had high hopes after the acquisition of Russell Wilson and the hiring of Nathaniel Hackett as the new head coach. Unfortunately, it was a disaster both on and off the field for the Broncos, resulting in the firing of Hackett before the season was over.
Needing a change in philosophy and structure, the Broncos brought in veteran head coach Sean Payton to lead the team. Payton immediately went to work making sure the players knew that he was the man in charge and setting expectations. Despite losing the first game of the season 17-16, you could see the influence of Payton’s playbook on the field. His job is to help the franchise get back on course and It remains to be seen if the players of the field respond, but Payton’s influence and past success will be key to helping the Broncos get back to a competitive product
Right men at the right time
In desperate need of rebuilds, the Denver Nuggets and Colorado Avalanche were at low points in 2015 and 2016. Still, there was nowhere to go but up, and new head coaches were hired for the journey.
Michael Malone joined the Nuggets in 2015, getting in on the ground floor to help build up a core group of young players. Over the next few years Malone helped the Nuggets grow from bad seasons to perennial contenders until they achieved the ultimate goal of an NBA championship in 2023. He was able to grow as a head coach alongside the players growing as NBA players. That bond forged through fire helped the Nuggets become who they are no with plenty of success to come.
The same goes for Jared Bednar with the Avalanche. He entered a difficult situation in 2016 unable to implement his own system as the team had one of the worst seasons in history. The next season however, he navigated the team through a public dispute with Matt Duchene towards a playoff appearance. Since then the Avalanche have been one of the best teams in the NHL, including winning the Stanley Cup in 2022. Like Malone, Bednar was the right man at the right time, able to grow alongside his players and establish a pristine culture of winning.
What about Bud and the Rockies?
So, what to do with Bud Black and the Rockies? After a 100-loss season, Black may find himself on the hot seat, yet with his contract extension for the 2024 season and the fact the Rockies want him to be the manager for the next contending team, he’s not likely to get the boot. Still, change in some form has to happen for the team to change it’s directory.
Should Black remain with the Rockies, he must look to the examples of other coaches in this article. He must learn how to better inspire, lead, and influence his players to get the most out of them on the field. Black brings a wealth of knowledge about the game and has to figure out how to share that with his players better and surround himself with other coaches that can further that teaching.
Additionally, if he’s to remain, he has to learn to grow alongside his players. That means embracing the minutia of the modern game of baseball. No longer will an old school mentaility and philosophie from the 1980s suffice to create a competitive team. Modern analytics and performance data will help develop players better and Black will have to adjust to include those challenges for the team.
If he’s unable or unwilling to do that, perhaps changes will have to be made to bring in a new voice to grow alongside the new group of young Rockies.
Dan Szymborski is well known for his hatred of the Rockies, or at least his irritation with how the organization operations. Still the recent extension the Rockies made over the weekend is something he actually agrees with and shares some more thoughts about the move and it’s significance for the club.
Jim Callis named his all-breakout prospect team and the Rockies themselves with Yanquiel Fernandez on the roster. His home run power and strong arm have been on display the past two seasons which has put him on notice this season around baseball.
On the Farm
Ryan Feltner turned in another solid start in his journey back from the injured list, tossing 4 1⁄3 innings allowing one run on three hits with four strikeouts and two walks. All but two Isotopes batters tallied a hit with Coco Montes hitting a two-run home run, Daniel Cope with a double, and Daniel Montano hitting a triple.
Joe Rock was almost unhittable for Hartford, tossing five shutout innings allowing just two hits and striking out 10 batters. Seth Halvorsen also tossed a scoreless inning of relief before Juan Mejia and Austin Kitchen ran into trouble, giving up all six runs in 1 2⁄3 innings combined. On the offensive end, Bladimir Restituyo hit his 15th home run of the season, a two-run shot, which ended up the highlight of Hartford’s four hits.
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