Last Tuesday, during the media’s pregame chat with manager Bud Black, I asked him if the Rockies had given any consideration to shutting down outfielder Kris Bryant for the remainder of the season because of plantar fasciitis in his left foot.
“I don’t think we want to go there. It’s August 9,” Black responded, taking aim at me with a hard stare.
I pointed out to Black that the best course of action for some players who’ve had plantar fasciitis is to stay off their feet.
“And there are other players who’ve had it, and the best course of action, they say, is to play,” Black retorted. “I thought you were going to ask it the other way, as opposed to the negative side. Because I get you as a positive guy. I get you as half full.”
Which got me thinking. Has covering bad Rockies teams turned me into Mr. Negative Guy? For what it’s worth, my mom thinks it has. And I know there are certainly people in the Rockies front office and some media members who think so, too.
Fans also send me emails chastising me for “ripping the team,” as one man recently put it. Another fan questioned why I usually mention Bryant’s seven-year, $182 million contract in stories about his injuries.
The reason, of course, is that Bryant signed the biggest free-agent contract in team history and he’s played in just 42 of Colorado’s 115 games. His contract is relevant to the story and provides context.
Here’s the thing: If you ask any major league beat writer, they’ll tell you that it’s more fun, interesting, and rewarding to cover a winning team. More fans read your stories, and the players are more available and more agreeable in the clubhouse. Plus, individual games mean a lot more, especially when August rolls into September. It’s exciting.
But the Rockies are not a winning team. Since 2019, they have a 222-276 record, a winning percentage of .446. The Rockies deserve to be held accountable.
I realize that owner Dick Monfort has a heavy financial investment in the team, but the value of the Rockies franchise has skyrocketed. So I hope he realizes that the Rockies are more than just a baseball team that he owns. They are a Colorado institution and they play in a ballpark paid for by the taxpayers of six counties along the Front Range.
Coors Field is a wonderful place to watch a game, but Monfort has a responsibility to try and put a better product on the field.
There are, certainly, things to like about the current Rockies. Second baseman Brendan Rodgers is a budding All-Star, closer Daniel Bard has been sensational, shortstop Jose Iglesias has been a productive and consistent player.
Rookie Elehuris Montero, a part of the Nolan Arenado trade, has a chance to be a solid offensive player. Lefty Lucas Gilbreath, from Legacy High School, is evolving into a trusted late-game reliever.
That’s only a partial list of some of the good things happening for the Rockies. (See, mom, I’m trying to be positive.)
But when this season ends, the Rockies will have not won a division title in their 30 years of existence and will have won only one playoff game in their last 13 seasons (the 2018 wild-card game against the Cubs).
That’s why I can’t be Mr. Positive when I cover the Rockies. The fans who pay their hard-earned money to watch a mediocre product on the field, drink overpriced beer and eat lukewarm hotdogs deserve better.
As third baseman Ryan McMahon told me back in June when I did a story about his slump in the wake of him signing a six-year, $70 million contract: “At the end of the day this isn’t a try-hard league, this is a get-(stuff)-done league.”