Nobody wants to write a letter like this. Not even me, and I’m the type who prefers to give it to somebody straight, without beating around the bush. But when the letter starts with “dear,” and your name, we both know where it’s going.
You’re not a bad guy, Jim. Nobody would argue that you are. I remember when I used to listen to Rockies games on the radio, back when I was living in New York and couldn’t go watch them play. I’d hear you come on during the pregame show, so nice and charming, always addressing Jerry Schemmel and Jack Corrigan by name. I thought, now that’s a nice guy. When MLB Network aired their spring training specials on every club, you were always the most pleasant of all the managers they interviewed. You’d listen intently to every question you were asked, pausing thoughtfully as if you deeply cared about giving the correct answer, and then say, “You know Greg, I think we’ve got a good ball club here. We’re gonna work hard, and we’re gonna do our best to reach our potential.
But here’s the thing, Jim. You never did reach that potential. Even in 2009 – don’t you think we could have done a little better than another wild card berth and a loss to the Phillies in the NLDS? If you recall, your predecessor Clint Hurdle made it past that particular phase. Now, I didn’t complain about that at the time, because it was only the third playoff appearance in franchise history, and beggars can’t be choosers. But I have to admit, the seeds of doubt were being sown even then.
Those seeds started to take some serious root at the end of the 2010 season. I thought for sure we’d be appearing in the postseason for the first time in back-to-back years. I will never forget Sunday, September 19th, Dodger Stadium. The Rockies were ahead 6-1 in the 4th, it looked like an easy win, and the division title was within reach. Then Jason Hammel gave up three straight run-scoring hits. All right, no problem, still winning. I was only watching out the corner of my eye by the time Huston Street took the mound in the 9th. Without missing a beat, Street gave up doubles to Rafael Furcal and Matt Kemp, and the game was tied. The Rockies had plenty of time to come back, but they didn’t take it. Instead, Manny Delcarmen came into the game in the bottom of the 11th and intentionally walked Andre Ethier to load the bases. A.J. Ellis hit an RBI single and the game was over. Do you know who called for that intentional walk, Jim? You did. Was that the magic moment on which everything hinged? Maybe. All I know for sure is, that game started the Rockies on a long, slow descent into oblivion. They won one more game that season, a walk-off triumph about a week later. But it was a hollow victory.
After that, I tried really hard to be on your side, but you lost me for good in August 2011 when Eliezer Alfonzo had one lucky night at the plate and then you had him hitting clean-up days later. On some things, you are insufferably stubborn, and on others, bafflingly spontaneous. I would be frustrated if you constantly seemed to act on a whim, or if you were so inflexible that you never made changes, but I think asking me to put up with both is a little too much.
Now that the 2012 season has wrapped, I think it’s about time we went our separate ways. You’re a good man, but you’re not the manager for this moment. I’m sure the Astros or the Cubs or somebody will be happy to hire you. We wish you well …
I can’t fire you, you quit?
Huh. Well. There’s more than one way to skin a cat, I guess. Bye Jim.