Baseball Toaster Bad Altitude
What Side You On?
2008-10-21 19:24
by Mark T.R. Donohue

I have a long-held bias against Philadelphia sports and the Phillies in particular. Philly fans have a reputation that precedes them everywhere, and in general the town has been light on stars with national appeal. I'm not a big Donovan McNabb guy, I can't stand Iverson (or what he's doing to basketball in Denver now), and John Kruk and Mike Schmidt just don't do it for me. Not to mention Pete Rose and Larry Bowa.

But on the other hand, the Rockies are in a very precarious position if the more recently invented Rays win a title. Florida and Arizona, the other two nineties expansion teams, have their World Series banners. Florida has two! If you'd asked any sports business expert in 1993 which of those four markets, Denver, Miami, Tampa/St. Pete, and Phoenix, had the best chance for sustained MLB success, they'd have said Denver. Phoenix still hasn't fully embraced the Cardinals, and when the Rockies played the D-Backs in the NLCS last season, Denver fans could drive up to Bank One Ballpark (or whatever) and buy tickets day-and-date for games one and two. The Florida franchises have been trying to move or facing the threat of contraction basically since the days they began existing.

If the fanbase, the nice park, and the lack of of local allegiances to older teams have all been in place in Colorado since day one, what's keeping them from being good? I don't want to hear excuses about the altitude. The Rockies have been held down by terrible management, as the Rays were until quite recently. If Tampa Bay can go worst-to-first in a single season, there isn't any excuse any longer for the incremental progress we're seeing here. I'd kind of like to see the powers that be with the Colorado organization shaken out of their complacency a bit. The model Tampa Bay has made, with its aggressive drafting and trades, is one the Rockies need to examine more closely. Like the deal the Rays made to bring Matt Garza. They got rid of a guy, Delmon Young, while his trade value was still very high. They dealt from a position of strength to shore up one where they needed more help. The Rockies, meanwhile, are piling up corner infielders like they're going to switch to 10-man softball rules next season. The mistakes of overvaluing their own talent and assuming the market on a guy is never going to go down or away plagued Tampa management for ages until they finally got rid of Chuck LaMar (who, weirdly, is now a Phillies scout). I've been on Dan O'Dowd's side more often than not over the past few seasons, but... come on. The Rockies' window is not wide. The Dodgers are (obviously) beginning to figure stuff out. Arizona has a lot of youth on its side and a decision-making team that in contrast to Colorado's is willing to roll the dice and play to win now. The Dan Haren deal makes that obvious.

So, besides the fact that it's a good story and the Phillies' rotation features a guy whose baseball card I had when I was seven, I like the Rays. In six.

2008-10-22 10:38:41
1.   jonnystrongleg
what exactly is iverson doing to basketball in denver these days?

didn't the nuggets win 50 games last year - tied for 2nd most in the franchise's NBA history?

Comment status: comments have been closed. Baseball Toaster is now out of business.