To Dick Monfort: a free lesson in Public Relations


Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

For some time now, I have maintained a very simple opinion about Colorado Rockies owner Dick Monfort and his tendency to seriously anger a number of Rockies fans anytime he speaks about anything.

He needs to fib more.

I’m not suggesting that he flat out lie to us. Not at all, and I actually believe he deserves more credit for how accessible and candid he is. But it also gets him in trouble. That’s why I’m here today.

All I am suggesting is that Monfort should dodge a few more questions, spew a few more cliches, and give a few more non-answers. Here are some examples:

1. Asked about his expectations for 2014, Monfort has said that the Rockies’ time is now (coming off two last place finishes), that they can win 90 games, and that the team needs to create a ‘legacy.’ We want the team owner to be optimistic, of course, but there is a fine line between optimism and delusion. Here’s what he should have said:

“I hesitate to ever put a number on it or make that kind of prediction – I’ll leave that to the folks who do so for a living. What I will say is this: our goal each season is to reach the playoffs. That is every team’s goal every season, and it remains ours. Day to day, our goal is to get better, take it one game at a time, and put the best possible product on the field.”

2. What about the questions he gets about Troy Tulowitzki’s ability to be a franchise player? He also tends to be a little too honest here, hinting that Tulo had “growing up to do” and was selfish at points in his career. The honesty could be seen as refreshing, but this was another opportunity to be a little bit more of a politician, like this:

“First of all, we have 25 guys in that locker room and we have confidence in each and every one of them. We are grateful for everything Tulo has done, and we know he will continue to be a leader for us as one of the superstars of this game. Having said that, baseball is a team game and Tulo isn’t the only player on our team. Our expectations for him are the same as the expectations for each guy in that clubhouse: help this team win games.” 

3. What about the trade rumors with Tulowitzki? Those are easy to dodge, of course (or at least they should be):

“Trade rumors are just that: rumors. We are focused on the present, and right now Tulo is one of our key players and we plan on keeping him with the Rockies for a long, long time. Internally we are always looking for ways to improve, but I am not going to speculate about the future. Right now Tulo isn’t going anywhere.”

4. Finally, the big question: what is Monfort’s message to fans who are frustrated and want to see wide-sweeping changes, including at the ownership level? It’s here that Monfort has a flair for really irking his fan base, with responses that range from calling Dan O’Dowd one of the best general managers in baseball to saying that the Rockies’ goal should be to make the playoffs two out of every five years.

How to fix those answers? Well, he needs to take it easy on the arrogance and come forth with some fake accountability. That’s the great thing about fibbing, after all! Just say you’re accountable, focusing on the day to day, taking it one game at a time, and so on. You don’t even have to mean it! Owners, GMs, and even players do it all the time. Monfort needs to start with some answers like this:

“We understand the fans’ frustration completely. If I was in their position, I would be frustrated too. I would be angry and I would also question the team’s leadership. That is totally understandable, and right now we deserve the criticism.

I want fans to know that we are also very frustrated and that we know the results in recent years have been unacceptable. To answer your question, my message to fans would be this: we are working tirelessly to build a great team and put a winning product on the field.

It is a long process, but we are not content with the losing results of recent years. Far from it. These are the best fans in the league and they deserve to cheer for a winning team. That’s our goal, and it will always be our goal.”

There ought to be room for Monfort’s odd brand of candor, and ultimately we should appreciate an MLB owner who is willing to be so frank about things. For example, take his theory that the Rockies should make the playoffs two out of every five years: that’s not totally hair-brained, really. It’s just that right now, given the state of the Rockies, it is hard to be receptive to these answers.

He just cannot say that stuff out loud – not right now. For now, Dick Monfort needs to work on dodging questions and throwing out some non-answers like those found above.