By Eric Goodman
You probably thought I was going to write about Brady Quinn’s comments and subsequent apology to Tim Tebow. Sorry to disappoint, but there’s a more relevant sports story in Denver that isn’t getting enough attention. And it should.
The Rockies have changed their mission statement as many times as the Broncos have changed quarterbacks since playing in the 2006 AFC Championship Game.
Dan O’Dowd’s regime started in 1999 by signing high-priced free agents, which failed.
Five years later, O’Dowd invited me into his office to talk about his new plan. He explained building from within for a mid-market team was the best way to go. He emphasized constructing a team through the draft and how budding stars Matt Holliday, Jeff Francis, Ian Stewart, Brad Hawpe and Ubaldo Jimenez were the cornerstones to sustaining the franchise.
The youth movement had a short shelf life, highlighted by a miraculous end-of-the-season run in 2007. Only Troy Tulowitzki and Todd Helton remain on the roster five years later. Many of the “Toddlers” have either moved on to marginal roles with other teams or are out of baseball less than five years later. By comparison, how many Red Sox players are still left from their 2007 championship team?
O’Dowd’s once fertile farm system doesn’t look so fruitful anymore. Wilin Rosario is their only draft pick ready for the major league roster, so they’ve bargain shopped for aging veterans, specifically in the infield.
The Rockies new plan is to win with values.
“We understand how difficult it is to build a culture in a world that’s valued only on performance, but we believe we’re going to build a culture of value and we believe that Jim Tracy is the right person to build that value. We believe in him completely with what this stands for,” O’Dowd told the media at spring training on Monday.
Moneyball and sabremetrics are a thing of the past; O’Dowd has discovered the new frontier and the best way to win a title – values and good guys.
Sadly, this statement isn’t shocking to anyone who covers the team.
Jim Tracy is a great guy; he’s polite and intelligent, and once he knows your name, he never forgets it. No one will ever criticize Tracy the person.
No one can fault Tracy for accepting a handshake agreement for an indefinite contract extension. However, the reason behind the deal is a little more troubling.
“To limit it to 2013 would not do justice to Jim,” O’Dowd added. “Basically what I’m saying is I should never have to have this conversation with you guys again.”
“You guys” is the media. O’Dowd was tired of being asked about the final year of Tracy’s deal. Nice trick, and sadly it’s worked.
This story has gained little traction in Denver. There was one article about the extension inThe Denver Post. There were no columns, just a 20-second mention on local television stations and very little chatter on sports talk radio.
This is probably enough coverage for the majority of Rockies fans who don’t care anyway. Most are a bunch of suckers who would rather have a nice night at the ballpark than pay attention to the scoreboard. They’re Cubs fans minus the all-day drinking binge.
It didn’t used to be like this. The 2007 Rockies are one of the greatest sports stories in Denver history. The Rockies were all the rage around the water cooler and throughout the country.
Fans love a winner, but what’s sad is when they tolerate a loser. Could you imagine the outcry in Boston, St. Louis, New York or Chicago if a manager who lost 102 of his last 176 games was given an indefinite contract extension?
You can criticize the Monforts for being cheap, but they’re not dumb. Actually, they’re brilliant businessmen. Win or lose, fans will click the turnstiles.
The lack of outrage at O’Dowd’s statement that Tracy’s values are on par with performance is unconscionable, yet this franchise gets away with this statement because very few seem to be upset about it. A majority of Rockies fans are indifferent and have grown to accept mediocrity.
I didn’t want to believe this until one of my radio partners, Mark Kiszla, called this a non-story yesterday morning on our show. He’s right to an extent, saying it’s not news because no one should be surprised by O’Dowd’s comments and there’s a general disinterest about the teams overall performance. If that’s the definition of a non-story, Kiszla is right.
O’Dowd sold me and the fans a bill of goods back in 2004. Shame on all of us for buying it then, and on the rest of you who are still buying it.
Eric Goodman hosts “The Mile High Club with Eric and Kiz” from 7a-9a Monday through Friday on Mile High Sports Radio AM 1510 | FM 93.7. You can also follow Eric Goodman on Twitter @ericgoodman.
Want more Mile High Sports? Check out Chris Dolge’s blog at milehighsports.com. Today, the Outsider examines who will be the next players/coaches to leave Denver.