The Centennial Soapbox

While I know that many Boston Red Sox fans would tell me that this title belongs to Harry Frazee, they are wrong. The worst owners in the history of professional sports are Dick and Charlie Monfort, principal owners of the Colorado Rockies. Today's trade of Matt Holliday to the Oakland Athletics for, although it isn't official yet, what appears to be a couple of prospects and Huston Street, solidified the brothers Monfort at the top of this dubious list. These guys have no business running a professional sports franchise, and they could not be more conspicuous about the fact that they don't care about the fans. It's pathetic.

I know what you're thinking: "Who cares about the Colorado Rockies?". I do. In fact, the Rockies routinely finish in the upper echelons of baseball in terms of attendance. Coors Field is the most beautiful ballpark in baseball, and if you don't agree, then you simply haven't been there. Although there are only a handful of sellouts every year, most weekend games draw 40,000+, and there are often 35,000 fans in the seats during the middle of the week. In any other park, these are sellout crowds, but Coors Field is the largest capacity ballpark in baseball, with a capacity of 50,445 fans. The Rockies sold out every game for the franchise's first 9 seasons, and that included crowds in excess of 80,000 at the old Mile High Stadium for two years.

The Monforts are known for telling fans a sob story about how the team is "small market" and that the team "can't compete with the big markets". That is absolutely false. Woody Paige of the Denver Post wrote a great article yesterday, and he is the first journalist that I have ever seen have the onions to say in print that the Monforts need to go. You can find that article here. The fact is, Colorado has long been a marquee destination for big-name free agents in every sport, and baseball is no different. Just for a couple of examples, some guy named Larry Walker signed here in 1995. In 2000, a couple of pitchers named Mike Hampton and Denny Neagle chose the Rockies over other "big market" teams. Denver is a great community, and Colorado is a beautiful state.

The factor that I haven't mentioned much about is the fans. I will tell anyone that Denver is the best sports town in the United States, and you will never get me to deviate from that sentiment. The Denver Broncos have been sold out since the 1970's, and there is a 40-year wait list for season tickets. The Colorado Avalanche set an NHL record for consecutive sellouts, as they sold out every game from 1995-2004, and still routinely sell out the Pepsi Center. The Denver Nuggets sell out most nights, and they have never won anything. As I mentioned, the Rockies also draw 3 million fans every year, even topping 4 million on several occasions. Fans in Denver are very knowledgeable about every sport. We get no love in the national media, so not many people actually know what Denver is about, but you will never find a better sports town in America.

The Monfort brothers are cheap. They care nothing about winning, and everything about their bottom line. It is a profitable business for them, which I guess is my fault, as I go to several games every season, but many people are baseball fans. A night at the ballpark is a great way to spend a summer evening. I can't blame Matt Holliday for turning down an offer of 4 years/$72 million. The Monforts knew that he wasn't going to stay, so they authorized the offer. Holliday has made his disdain for the ownership clear in the past couple of weeks, and I don't blame him. He loved the community of Denver and playing with a tight group like the Rockies, but the ownership is not commited to winning, so he moved on. The A's are getting a quality locker room guy, and anybody that believes Holliday won't succeed outside of Denver doesn't watch baseball. If the Oakland A's, the team that trades away more talent than any other, are willing to take the guy, he is a real talent. He is great in the community and on the field. Sadly, it appears that Garrett Atkins is likely on his way out as well, and the Rockies aren't likely to address the issue of pitching through either trade.

It makes me sick that these two crooks think that it's OK to rob the fans of their money and then lie to those same fans that put food on their table about it. Make no mistake - these guys are shrewd businessmen. They made their money in the cattle feeding and meat packing businesses, and they have carried their business sense into the professional sports world. Unfortunately, all they are concerned about is their money. Running a sports team isn't supposed to be a profitable business - it is supposed to be an expensive hobby. Here in Denver, we have 2 of the best owners in professional sports with Pat Bowlen of the Broncos and E. Stanley Kroenke with the Avalanche and Nuggets. Unfortunately, we also have the worst owners in the history of professional sports in Dick and Charlie Monfort. Of course, the only vote that I have is with my ticket. As much as it pains me to say it, I don't think that I will be going to more than one or two games a year as long as these two clowns own the team. I have been a die-hard Rockies fan from the beginning, and it simply isn't fair to fans to treat your sports franchise as a money-making entity without regard to actually winning. Of course, they would make even more money if they would put a competitive product on the field, but they don't seem to understand that. For the sake of the fans that have supported these guys, albeit begrudgingly, over the past 16 years, I wish that they would sell the team to somebody that is willing to do what is necessary to win. They are alienating their fanbase, and even I, the biggest Rockies fan of them all, will be watching from home, and not the ballpark, next season.


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