No sportsfan ever wants to say goodbye to his team’s best player, especially not in this case, where the best player is not only the best player in the history of the franchise, but also in the history of his position. Yes, Nolan Arenado is that good. Nobody wanted to see him go.
But, we all knew it was coming. And if the Pandemic of 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that nobody is truly safe. The economics of nationwide shutdowns will eventually take their toll on most everyone; and if you’re a baseball team in the middle of the country with a crappy local television deal, fans are the only real way to pay the bills. Unless, of course, the business of baseball is just a hobby – a rich man’s toy, a fun little endeavor that chugs along while “other” business interests pad the coffers rain or shine. Think Mark Cuban’s Mavericks or Robet Kraft’s Patriots.
But, that’s not reality for the Monfort Family. These days, the business of baseball is their business. Rockies Baseball now puts food on the table for the family that earned its original money by putting food on ours. This ain’t no hobby, cowboy.
So, when the money isn’t coming through the turnstiles like it has every summer since 1993, how does a “modestly” wealthy family continue to pay one of baseball’s biggest contracts? They don’t. That’s just the sad truth. Furthermore, when the player earning that contract is likely leaving town as soon as the 2021 season is over anyway, anyone – fan or otherwise – understands the concept of cutting one’s losses, salvaging whatever one can from a situation that’s well past sour. You take what you can get, and in the process, remove one monster line item from the books. So long, Nolan, that’s just hard, cold business. It sucks, but everything about it made sense.
The fact that the Rockies had essentially just sold him for cold hard cash – $50 million big ones, to be exact – made some sense, too. There was no money coming into Coors Field last summer, so why not sell your best asset and start over with some cash in hand?
But, that’s when I re-read the details.
The Rockies weren’t getting $50 million from the Cardinals. They were giving it.
“That has to be a misprint,” I thought.
Why in the world would the Rockies need to throw in $50 million in cash? Shouldn’t the team that gets the greatest third basemen to ever play, still in his prime no less, be the one having to back up the Brink’s truck, all while loading up a Colordo-bound UberXL filled with a half-dozen or more former Cardinals… a few left-handed pitchers, the best kids on the farm, maybe an aging veteran who can finish out his days as a respectable hitter at Coors Field. Imagine the Chicago Bulls shipping away Michael Jordan in his prime and sending him along with an envelope filled with cash.
A few nice steaks? A fitted Rockies cap with a thank you note? Sure. Nice doing business with you Cardinals.
But Nolan plus $50 million?
And the Rockies get what exactly? In an effort to avoid further depressing my readers, rather than listing a bunch of names you’ll surely need to Google, I’ll quote Cliff Clavin’s famed Jeopardy answer instead: “Alex, who are three people who have never been in my kitchen?”
Nothing. Nada. Zip. Sure, there’s always a chance that one of the kids coming over turns into the next Cargo, but that’s like trading a lottery ticket for whatever MegaMillions is currently worth.
This makes no sense. I’ve read countless articles in an effort to better understand and have yet to find one. If and when you do, please send it my way.
What’s done is done though. So now what? As a fan, is there any reason to continue rooting for this team? What reason have the Monfort’s given you to loyally support the Rockies? They just gave away the best reason to watch, and they let go of the only thing that might have bought an alternative – money. Surely the game’s best third basemen could have commanded more than a swift kick in the groin.
There are two ways in which the Monforts can salvage this situation – and even those won’t undo the ridiculous nature of this lopsided trade.
First, they can sell the team. That’s easy for me to say – I’m not the one holding a team that Forbes most recently valued at $1.275 billion. Then again, it’s not like they’d be selling at a loss. The Rockies were purchased for a mere $95 million. That kind of profit is a decent consolation prize for losing your office on 20th and Blake.
Or, second, they must – absolutely must – say goodbye to general manager Jeff Bridich. It was Bridich who had the very public riff with Arenado in the first place. It was Bridich who “crafted” what has to be considered one of the worst trades in the history of sport. The wise fan knows that ultimately, Dick Monfort has to sign off on any deal that comes across his desk. But he’s a businessman, not a baseball man. The idea that an alleged baseball man like Bridich could even walk into his boss’ office with this sort of trade is head-scratching at best. Whacking Bridich won’t solve the Rockies problems, but at the very least, whoever replaces him might have a story of hope that fan might buy.
If one of those two things don’t happen though, how in the world can we continue to root for the laundry? Clearly, the players who wear it have no value to this franchise.
Even the greatest.