MERILATT MONDAY

The Rockies season is already over, as baseball wilts in Colorado

Mar 31, 2024, 8:00 AM | Updated: 9:41 pm

I used to love baseball. I grew up playing the sport. I grew up watching the game. I grew up checking the box scores every morning.

Now, I couldn’t care less about it.

In part, that’s because the sport has changed. Perhaps it’s because I have too. But for the most part, it’s because my favorite team is a disaster.

The Rockies dropped three out of four games in Arizona this weekend, getting outscored 32-14 and starting their season off on a bad note. And there’s really no hope that things will get any better. It’s April 1 and the season already feels over.

Colorado lost 103 games last year, the highest total in franchise history. They may eclipse that number this time season. It’ll be surprising if they don’t.

And it’s not like they’re tanking on purpose. It’s not as though this losing is so they can go young and build for the future. It’s not like they’re saving money now so they can spend it later.

That would be okay. At least the tribulations would be a part of a plan.

They aren’t. The Rockies are bad and they’re aging. They’re expensive and they’re terrible.

Their roster has an average age of 28.3 years old. It’s not like every player who comes to the plate was born in the 2000s.

They also have the 16th-highest payroll in MLB, putting them right in the middle of the pack. They spend money.

They just stink. And there’s little hope for them getting any better.

Why? Because ownership doesn’t push the right buttons.

Dick Monfort gets a lot of grief in Denver; he’s widely regarded as the worst pro sports owner in the Mile High City. But some of the criticism is unfair.

Monfort wants to win. He’s willing to spend money. He just doesn’t know how to do it.

The Rockies hired Dan O’Dowd as their general manager in 1999, luring him away from an Indians organization that had been to the playoffs for five-straight seasons. In the 25 years since, they’ve only promoted from within when filling that position.

First, it was Jeff Bridich, who replaced O’Dowd in 2014. Now, it’s Bill Schmidt, who took over when Bridich quit in 2021.

They all carry the same philosophy. They all have the same approach. They all bring the same mentality.

And that’s the way Monfort wants it. He likes being comfortable. He likes working with people he gets along with. He likes people who see things the same way he does.

That’s understandable. Who wouldn’t want that situation? Comfy is always attractive.

But it’s not a way to build a winning organization. It’s not a formula for success.

Instead, it’s a recipe for the same results over and over and over. That’s the Rockies. Same story, different year.

And I’m over it.

At some point, the baseball version “Groundhog Day” gets tiresome. It wears down even the most-loyal fan. It kills the spirit of the most-optimistic backers.

That’s me now. I’m done.

Some of my best sports memories have involved the Rockies. That’s why this is so painful.

I was at the stadium when E.Y. homered in the team’s first-ever home at-bat, barely getting to my seat in the east stands in time. I was there when Matt Holliday scored to win the play-in game over the Padres, shocked that Jamey Carroll’s sacrifice fly to short rightfield got the job done. I was there when they beat the Diamondbacks to advance to the World Series, basking in the glow of Rocktober.

I’ve taken my three boys to games, having them fall asleep in my arms once the cotton-candy high had worn off. I went to a game with my grandpa in the summer of 1997 just before he passed away, watching him enjoy a beer (or two) away from the watchful eye of my grandma who was keeping close tabs on his diet during his chemo sessions. I’ve sat with my dad, friend’s dads and random dads, getting all sorts of life advice while the game transpired in front of me.

Baseball is a beautiful experience. It’s played on warm summer days, in pristine ballparks, at a leisurely pace. It bridges generations and crosses cultures.

It’s almost impossible to squeeze the joy out of the game. Yet the Rockies have done it.

I’ve never been less interested in the hometown team. Consequently, I’ve never been less interested in the game as a whole.

And that pains me. I want to love baseball. I want to love the Rockies. There just isn’t a reason to at the moment.

What’s the solution? Unfortunately, there might not be one. Someone will have to ride in on a white horse and save the day.

A billionaire with money to burn needs to buy the team. They need to let the Monforts cash out, while sinking millions into a team that has to compete with the cash-flush Dodgers, Giants, etc. They need to swoop in, take over an amazing ballpark that is routinely packed, and turn things around by cleaning house, writing big checks and changing the culture.

That’s the only hope on saving baseball in Colorado. And those of us who love the game, and love the Rockies, are desperate for it to happen, before too many weekends like this past one kill the sport forever.

Merilatt Monday

Michael Malone...

James Merilatt

Malone’s high-wire act with bench will determine Nuggets fate

Game 1 against the Lakers provided a prime example of how Michael Malone is going to have to walk a tightrope throughout the postseason

24 hours ago

Michael Malone Nuggets...

James Merilatt

Bednar and Malone are facing tipping points in the postseason

If the Avalanche and Nuggets don't make deep playoff runs, it'll be a sign that they've squandered the prime years of generational players

8 days ago

Broncos Sean Payton and Jarrett Stidham...

James Merilatt

The Broncos reign atop the Denver sports landscape could end

For more than six decades, the Broncos have been like a religion in Colorado; but their status atop the local sports scene isn't set in stone

15 days ago

KJ Simpson...

James Merilatt

A talented Buffs roster should’ve reached uncharted waters

Colorado's basketball team was good enough to make it to the second weekend of the tourney, so it's a disappointment that they're done

29 days ago

Dead money...

James Merilatt

The Broncos are taking a big gamble with their QB search

By not signing a free agent and choosing not to pursue a trade, Denver is putting all of their quarterback eggs in the NFL draft basket

1 month ago

DENVER, CO - DECEMBER 13: Denver Broncos fans sit dejected after losing to the Oakland Raiders 15-1...

James Merilatt

Broncos Country might regret buying into rebuilding plans

It sounds good during the offseason, but stripping a roster to the bones offers a painful reality once games are played and the losses mount

1 month ago

The Rockies season is already over, as baseball wilts in Colorado