I guess God hates the Rockies.
In light of the broken down Todd Helton negotiations, it isn't surprising that more than a few folks out there have Googled Rockies owner Charlie Monfort's name to discover more about this guy. You can tell the trade talks with the Red Sox have officially died down because Monfort hasn't released a statement in about 17 minutes now.
Maybe this was Monfort's way at getting back at the Red Sox for the Larry Bigbie fiasco a few years back. His negotiating methods apparently involved a periodic update of which players he was asking the Red Sox in return for former All-Star Todd Helton. Now, the Red Sox are forced to explain to Mike Lowell and Julian Tavarez why their names came up in trade talks.
Once the trade came down to those two players in addition to one or two players on a list that included Jon Lester, Craig Hansen, Jacoby Ellsbury, Daniel Bard, Manny Delcarmen, and Clay Buchholz, talks broke off.
"This is not a trade that we were anxious to complete, but we are always exploring ways to improve our team," Rockies owner Charlie Monfort said in his final statement of the day. "Discussions like these regarding a player of Todd's talent and character are never easy, and it's not surprising we were not able to reach an agreement."
I think it's obvious to see what transpired here. The Lord told the Rockies to ask for more.
A USA Today cover story from last summer has been a popular subject of discussion among Red Sox fans the past few days, in which the Rockies' status as an organization guided by Christianity was brought to light. Nothing wrong with that. On the surface.
The moment Christianity starts to be used as a crutch, and not as a building block of a clubhouse of character, you end up exhibiting yourself for the sake of posturing. So, when the Rockies were three games over .500, and general manager Dan O'Dowd told USA Today last summer, "You look at things that have happened to us this year. You look at some of the moves we made and didn't make. You look at some of the games we're winning. Those aren't just a coincidence. God has definitely had a hand in this," we can only assume that since the Rockies finished in last place in the NL West (again), that God had a hand in that too.
The Nation's Dave Zirin responded to the USA Today article with the following:
O'Dowd and company bend over backward in the article to say they are "tolerant" of other views on the club, but that's contradicted by statements like this from CEO Monfort: "I don't want to offend anyone, but I think character-wise we're stronger than anyone in baseball. Christians, and what they've endured, are some of the strongest people in baseball. I believe God sends signs, and we're seeing those." Assumedly, Shawn Green (Jew), Ichiro Suzuki (Shinto) or any of the godless players from Cuba don't have the "character" Monfort is looking for.
Also, there are only two African-American players on the Rockies active roster. Is this because Monfort doesn't think black players have character? Does the organization endorse the statement of its stadium's namesake, William Coors, who told a group of black businessmen in 1984 that Africans "lack the intellectual capacity to succeed, and it's taking them down the tubes"? These are admittedly difficult questions. But these are the questions that need to be posed when the wafting odor of discrimination clouds the air.
Lightning rod or not, I think religion's place in sports is a crock. Inevitably, this Sunday night more than one member of the Colts or Bears will stand up and proclaim their Super Bowl win the work of Jesus Christ. Which, I suppose should make the guys in the losing locker room feel like they have been forsaken.
I'm going to lay it out for you, and I hope it doesn't surprise you. But God really doesn't care who wins the Super Bowl. I mean, maybe St. Peter laid a little something down taking the points, but that's about as far as it goes.
"You wonder if some people are going along with it just to keep their jobs," Giants first baseman Mark Sweeney, who spent 2003-04 in Colorado, told USA Today. "Look, I pray every day. I have faith. It's always been part of my life. But I don't want something forced on me. Do they really have to check to see whether I have a Playboy in my locker?"
One would have to assume that's a popular view among most major leaguers. Character is one thing, but purportedly forcing religion and belief down someone's throat at their place of employment isn't exactly constitutional.
It's difficult to decide which is more offensive really, the club's approach to religion or its baseball philosophy. In 14 years of existence, the Rockies have made the playoffs just once (as the 1995 wild card entrants) and have not finished as high as third place in the past decade. Their ballpark has historically been like a pinball machine, balls flying out of the yard at a record pace in the thin air of Denver. Coors Field made Dante Bichette a Colorado legend, and made Mike Hampton look like a Juggs machine.
And Helton is stuck there because his owner wouldn't pick up more than a quarter of his $90.1 million deal, perhaps the worst contract in all of sports, and demanded an outrageous return investment for a player who has begun a concerning downward spiral in his career. And while Monfort continues to open his mouth about talks surrounding Helton, the Red Sox have all but issued a "no comment."
"We think we are going to be competitive in the division this year and for a couple years to come, and we feel Todd will be a key part of that," Monfort told the Rocky Mountain News. Keep dreaming. Helton will be dealt somewhere if the price is right. Maybe even before spring training. The Rockies have no shot at winning this season, which means that O'Dowd and manager Clint Hurdle will finally be out of jobs. Attendance, which at the team's inception was the best in the majors, has been dropping every season. And Colorado will start all over again, trying to claim its identity yet again. On the field, at least. In the clubhouse, they make it pretty evident how you're supposed to act. Leave the Maxim and the flask at home, OK? And the yarmulke? Lucky you, the Rockies will tolerate it. How kind.
Chicago White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf, who is Jewish, said in the USA Today piece: "I do believe character is very important. But only to a point. Does this mean ... Babe Ruth could never have played there?"
Probably not, but not because of his gluttonous ways. The Rockies would just inevitably find a way to screw that up too.