Here is a surprisingly basic statistic that will surprise you: the Rockies have existed for 20 years, and going into this season, they have only finished in last place three times. Those finishes occurred in 1999, 2001, and 2005.
Considering that this is not exactly a prosperous franchise and considering that they have never won a division title, that is shocking. That means that the Rockies have finished 2nd, 3rd, or 4th (mostly 3rd and 4th) for the other 17 seasons in their history. That history also includes some 4th place finishes that should have been last place if not for a worse team in the division. For instance, they won a scarce 68 games in 2004 and somehow finished 4th ahead of the 51-111 Arizona Diamondbacks. The rarity of last place finishes is only a small part of the reason, however, for all of the current unrest among the Rockies faithful.
The other last place finishes did not feel so devastating. They did not feel like our team was digging such an unbelievably deep hole. The Rockies probably sensed that they were undermanned going into those seasons, especially on the pitching side of things…even if players like Kurt Abbott and Jeff Cirillo and Clint Barmes scared a .300 BA in those respective seasons. That also includes two seasons when the Rockies actually had not figured out how to win in Denver yet. Let’s be clear about this point: they have figured it out since then (no matter what they say right now), because the humidor did just plenty to legitimate baseball at Coors Field.
Of course nobody is ever content with a last place finish, but none of those previous three felt as ugly as this does, right now in 2012.
The point is, this season is unquestionably the worst in franchise history for a number of reasons. Number one is the fact that for all of this franchise’s struggles, they have somehow managed to stay out of the basement for most of their seasons. Number two is the sheer lack of wins they will have, which will surely result in the worst W-L record in franchise history and very well might result in 100 losses.
The third reason is the important one. It’s the baffling lack of accountability from the people in charge.
The behavior and explanations from this team’s management should be familiar to people who work in any number of career fields or walks of life. An employee, whether a manager or somebody lower on the food chain, has screwed things up. He/she senses that their performance has been so bad it might be the kind of thing that costs them their position. They do not want to lose that job and in many cases, they do not want to lose that power. So instead of saying, “I screwed this up, please give me a chance to do better,” they explain why it’s not totally their fault.
“I didn’t drive up sales this quarter, but the customers who did shop with us were never going to buy anything anyway. I did not do anything different to change that, but it’s hardly my fault that they did not want to buy anything. I can’t control them.”
“There may have been more theft and more losses on this property, but it has not been because of bad work by security. We have done our rounds and checks every night, like always. It’s not our fault that the bad guys are being sneakier. We’re doing our job like we always have, but what are we supposed to do in such a challenging environment? We can’t control that.”
“People do not understand how impossible it is to build a baseball team in Colorado. Not only have we done what we’ve always believed in, but we have been innovative, bordering on genius, in trying to find creative ways to succeed in this impossible environment. This isn’t our fault…if anything we’ve done a better job, no matter how bad our record is.”
Dan O’Dowd and company should simply describe this season by saying: “We did a bad job, the talent stinks and the coach we left in place is utterly ineffective. We screwed up, and we will try to do better.” Instead they blame other factors and even find a way to spin those other factors into a positive for themselves. They are just like any other person who is trying to protect their own job.
It is this lack of accountability combined with the fact that we are not that far removed from two playoff appearances that make this last place finish so punishing. Put it all together, and this is the worst season in franchise history and this moment is the worst state of the franchise in its history.
I have been a bit late to the party on this organization’s lack of accountability. Others have written intelligently about it, so be sure to check out Bryan Kilpatrick’s article over on Purple Row and Logan Burdine’s article on Blake Street Bulletin.
It is going to be an even longer path back to relevance if every member of this organization refuses to admit a simple fact: they screwed up.