The dog days of summer are upon us. The time is right for high country camping, laying poolside, backyard barbeques and of course, baseball.
Unfortunately for the baseball team in Denver known as the Rockies, fan support or the lack thereof has become a glaring problem for this once popular attraction. This season marks the ten-year anniversary of the Rockies' first and only playoff appearance. The decade following the team's zenith of success has been one of bad deals, bad baseball and now, bad fan support.
Having spent a significant portion of my youth in Chicago, bleeding Cubs blue it is fair to say I have become a resident expert on the subject of following losing teams. For most of my life the Cubs have been awful. Not bad, not below average, not even on the cusp of respectability, just plain awful. Before last season the cubbies had not had consecutive winning seasons since before Nixon had resigned and Vietnam was still raging. If you were alive when we won our last World Series then you probably also have some good stories to tell about World War I and the depression.
But there in lies the basis behind the mindset of the Chicago fan and helps explain why they are so far superior to those found in Colorado. When the windy city was getting its first taste of Cubs baseball, Blackhawks hockey and Bears football, Denver was still hauling cattle through its streets and fighting off attacks from Indians. The sports fans and traditions in chi-town have been passed on for generations and are impervious to matters such as a win-loss record.
Alas, the same cannot be said for Denver. With the exception of the Donkeys, or Broncos if you must, the professional teams of Colorado are completely dependent on their success to determine their fan following.
The Nuggets became a town joke for about a decade before their most recent resurgence brought the fans back. The Rockies enjoyed some of the best attendance in baseball until the honeymoon recently ended. Now the team toils in the bottom of the league not only in wins but fans showing up. The Avalanche have always provided competitive teams when they are actually playing, they also demonstrate exactly what is wrong with the NHL.
A small market team formerly known as the Nordiques toiled for years in mediocrity while still enjoying strong followings. Eventually they build up a solid nucleus of young stars and are on the verge of a resurgence. Suddenly a bunch of Yankees from Colorado come and snatch them away before the poor French-Canadians are able to enjoy the success they have been awaiting.
Now Colorado, a state, which knew about as much about hockey as I do about women's fashion, had a Stanley Cup. Die-hard fans to the east and north are left with more unending heartache. I say better to collapse the old franchise and sell off the players than to give cities like Denver a successful team built on the devotion of others. The Avalanche winning a Stanley Cup for Colorado was akin to your neighbor buying a beautiful mail order bride while you are stuck with the ugly girl from high school you got pregnant. I have some bitterness to resolve on the point of the Avalanche.
What the fans of Denver and Colorado need to remember though is that now is when your true colors show. Go and support your teams when they are bad because you know what? You should feel lucky to have a team, bad or not. Going to a baseball game is an experience, and while it is always more fun to root for a winner somebody has to lose. If it is the Rockies turn for the next two decades or so then so be it. Or maybe everyone should stop going to see there young team with a solid nucleus develop into major leaguers, and then when they are on the verge of respectability some out-of-towner with big pockets will come and take them away and you all can watch the Las Vegas Rockies win the series with your team. Wouldn't that be nice?