Let me get this out of the way before we proceed any further: the point of this entry is not, in any manner whatsoever, to praise the behavior of Cleveland Cavaliers’ owner Dan Gilbert.
Yes, the Cavaliers received the best news possible on Friday when LeBron James announced that he was returning home to play for the Cavaliers. But the series of events that led up to that moment consisted of nothing but buffoonery from Gilbert, with a whole lot of good luck thrown in that brought James back.
It was despite Gilbert, and certainly not because of him, that James returned. Sure, he apologized for the childish letter that he posted on the Cavaliers’ web site four years ago, a letter that remained published on that same site for these past four years until recently, but in the end Gilbert was the model for what professional sports’ owners should look to avoid at all times.
We might value candor and transparency from executives and owners, but not to the point of embarrassment. If an owner cannot handle speaking for themselves in the moment, then they should not do so. Fan bases are much better off with canned, boring, prepared statements than angry, humiliating responses from their teams’ owners.
The Cavaliers benefited from good luck, especially when it comes to those lottery balls. They also arguably benefited from the fact that LeBron went away and actually won, allowing him a comfortable context to return. Shifting this conversation to Monfort and the Rockies, they cannot count on that kind of good luck. Whatever the baseball equivalent would even be, it’s just not coming.
In the meantime, Monfort needs to learn a valuable lesson. In the words of Herman Edwards: don’t press send. No matter how mad that fan’s email made you, don’t press send on your angry response.
It is actually even worse for Monfort. Gilbert targeted a former player, nominally in defense of his fan base. Monfort is directing his tantrums at members of the fan base. This is almost impossible to fathom.
There is a certain level of decorum that every owner should be held to. It’s not even that high a bar, frankly. But if an owner like Dick Monfort cannot handle rules like, “don’t send angry emails back to fans,” well, then the Rockies need to act swiftly and remove him from the spotlight.
Can we just send this guy on a lengthy golf trip or something?
As I have advocated here on Rox Pile before, what we really need is for Monfort to learn how to fib. He needs to sidestep questions and he needs to give half-answers. Most importantly, he needs to vent behind closed doors when he is mad. A lot of owners have figured this out, like almost all of them, but it continues to allude Monfort.
The Rockies are headed down a dangerous road; public perception matters, especially when the volume is turned up that much louder in the era of social media and “going viral.” A bad reputation can set a team back in a significant way, whether it be because they lose fans or because players do not want to play for that franchise.
Gilbert avoided those pitfalls with a number of fortuitous developments in four years that have otherwise been mangled and mismanaged by him and his front office. The Rockies, somehow, need to find a way to keep Monfort from taking them further down that road. Because let’s be very clear: emailing fans telling them “not to come” and snipping that “maybe Denver doesn’t deserve a franchise” already has the Colorado Rockies on that road to being a complete joke of a franchise.
Somehow they need to find a way to turn around and come back. Sad to say, I’m not sure that I believe it’s going to happen. Hopefully Monfort can learn from a fellow buffoon like Gilbert and knock it the hell off.