Earlier this month, the Colorado Rockies completed a trade with the St. Louis Cardinals. Though the use of the word “trade” is questionable as it implies the exchange of valuable commodities. In this case, the word fleecing comes to mind. Or the deal can be viewed as a belated Christmas present from our hometown franchise to the lucky beneficiaries in St. Louis.
The Rockies parted with Nolan Arenado, who one can easily make a case for being the best player in franchise history. The 29-year-old third baseman won the Gold Glove award in all eight of his seasons in Colorado and is arguably the best third baseman in Major League Baseball history. In his last five full seasons, Arenado averaged 40 home runs, 124 runs driven in, and a 300 batting average. He was the face of the franchise, and a reason to watch every game to see what ridiculous defensive play he was going to pull off at third base that day.
Surely the Rockies’ Ivy League educated General Manager Jeff Bridich must have received quite a haul in return for one of the best players in the game, in the prime of his career, right? Well, not so much. Unless the name Austin Gomber sends chills up and down your spine.
Gomber is the only player with major league experience sent to Colorado in the fire sale… er… trade. While I have nothing against the guy and he is coming off a good 2020 season, it is hard to get too worked up about a 27-year-old pitcher with 104 innings of MLB experience and seven career wins. Oh, but the Rockies received four prospects in the deal! True, but not one of the four were considered “can’t miss” jewels of the Cardinals minor league system.
So, you are probably wondering, “What the heck do they teach at Harvard? Certainly not the art of negotiating!” But it gets worse. The Rockies will be sending $51 million the Cardinals’ way over the next few years to ease the financial burden of Arenado’s $199 million contract over the next six seasons.
In summary, Colorado traded away their best player ever, received next to nothing in return, AND will be helping to pay Nolan NOT to play at Coors Field anymore. Mr. Bridich, you drive a hard bargain. Can I interest you in some swampland in Florida?
While the Rockies ownership and management continues their quest to make the team unwatchable, the two most successful franchises in the state—the Avalanche and Nuggets—are almost literally unwatchable. Due to the pandemic, fans are not allowed to attend games at The Ball Arena (formerly Pepsi Center). And amazingly, Colorado may be the only major sports market in the country unable to watch their local hockey and basketball teams on television.
Stan Kroenke is the chairman and CEO of a holding company that owns both teams, as well as the arena where they play. In addition, Mr. Kroenke owns the Colorado Rapids, Colorado Mammoth, Los Angeles Rams and the Arsenal Football Club of the English Premier Soccer League. Forbes estimates Kroenke’s wealth at $10 billion. Oh, and he’s married to the daughter of Bud Walton, co-founder of Walmart. I’m going to guess the couple doesn’t spend their evenings clipping coupons.
But Kroenke cannot come to terms with Comcast and Dish Network to televise Avalanche and Nuggets games. Of course, both teams are among the best in their leagues and top contenders for a championship. Nathan MacKinnon was runner-up for NHL MVP honors last season and one of the most exciting players in the league. If not for some very untimely injuries at playoff time, the Avs would have had a strong shot at being Stanley Cup champions. The 2021 squad is loaded with young talent and is a favorite to capture the Cup this year.
Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray led the Nuggets to the Western Conference Finals in 2020 and the team looks poised to make a deep playoff run in 2021 as well. “The Joker,” as the Nuggets center is known, is the unicorn of the NBA, a 7-foot tall wizard with the ball in his hands, who leads the team in points, rebounds and assists. Twenty games into the season, Jokic would be a favorite for MVP honors.
Alas, the success of the Avalanche and Nuggets is largely a rumor to the sports fans of Colorado. The Nuggets can be viewed occasionally on ESPN or TNT, the Avs less frequently on NBC. It is mind boggling that a billionaire has left his local fans in the dark for a second season in a row. Especially when we are unable to attend games in person.
Oh well, at least the Broncos games are always available for viewing! This is a case of good news/bad news. The good news being that we get to watch our boys in orange and blue on free, network television. The bad news? Well, we get to see the Broncos games every week during the NFL regular season. The most popular team in the state has been in rapid decline since winning Super Bowl 50. Denver has not made the playoffs in the subsequent five seasons, nor have they posted a winning record since 2016. Over the past four years, the Broncos have accumulated a sorry 23-41 mark. But we have been able to watch the Orange Crushed!
It’s a good night, for the most part. The Nuggets-Lakers contest is the featured game being aired by TNT, meaning we can watch Jokic square off against Lebron James and Co. The Lakers are favored to repeat as NBA Champions, but Denver is a team talented enough to throw a monkey wrench in L.A.’s plan. The Avalanche-Wild game was postponed due to a number of players on the Covid-19 watch list, but I still intend to enjoy The Joker do his thing in what will hopefully be a Nuggets win.
Baseball season is (fingers crossed) only a couple of months away. As luck would have it, Rockies games are televised on most Colorado cable platforms. So, we will be able to watch along as the club looks to earn a third straight fourth-place finish in the five-team National League West. Yee haw!
Hang in there, my fellow sports fans. I sent a trade proposal to Jeff Bridich offering my 2009 CRV in exchange for a Ferrari. Maybe he’ll accept the deal and kick-in a few million dollars for gas money?