Luke Graham: Can baseball be viable in Colorado?
May 28, 2012
Steamboat Springs — The old Generation-R slogan the Colorado Rockies had prior to the 2005 season was always good for the bank account but never for the soul.
That year was usually referred to as Todd and the Toddlers. As in Todd Helton and a bunch of young guys earning their stripes in the big leagues.
It was good for my bank account as the Rockies drew under 2 million fans that season, the first time that had happened in franchise history.
As a college student, it was easy to go spend a couple bucks and sit anywhere I wanted.
It wasn't good for the soul, however, in that the Rockies lost 95 games that season. They were pitiful.
Management sold that this was the future. It turns out they were right.
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The 2007 season marked a magical run to the World Series. The team made the playoffs again in 2009, seemingly announcing itself as a annual contender.
Then last year, things fell apart.
The team traded Ubaldo Jimenez (looking smart now) and jettisoned the team into a new sort of Generation-R with young starting pitchers taking their licks against big league regulars.
The Rockies may again lose 90-plus games this season.
Which begs the question, is there a formula for successful baseball in Colorado?
It doesn't seem so. The Rockies, since their inception in 1993, seemingly have tried every variable with mostly ineffective results.
The team made the playoffs in 1995 with the Blake Street Bombers mashing opposing pitchers.
Coors Field was home to the 15-12 win.
But that was short lived. It proved it was great when you're scoring 12 runs but just as bad when you give up 14.
In 1996 and 1997, the pitching ERA was well above five.
The team then went the way of a big market. It started with signing Darryl Kile as a free agent. Then Jim Leyland as a big-name manager.
Then biggest blows came in 2000. The team signed big-name free agents Denny Neagle and Mike Hampton to $172 million worth of contracts.
The team never won more than 73 games in the two years the pitchers were together.
Colorado was hampered for years with the big contracts, which led us back to Generation-R.
The team decided to build through the draft and within the organization.
That tactic seemed to work in 2007 and 2009.
But miss on a couple of drafts, like the team did from 2003-09 (outside of Troy Tulowitzki in 2005), and the philosophy doesn't work.
Colorado never will have money like New York or Boston. It won't ever be a desired location for free agent pitchers to come. It's proved solely hitting can't get the team to the postseason. It's shown spending big isn't the answer.
There isn't a blueprint for success for baseball in Colorado.
Until there is, expect years like this where 90-plus loss seasons are a regular thing.
To reach Luke Graham, call 970-871-4229 or email lgraham@SteamboatToday.com