DENVER — In a playful, chipper mood, Dick Monfort told us what we wanted to hear and some of what we didn’t.
“I’ve been known to wear the same underwear for more than one day in a row,” the Rockies owner revealed of his superstitions. “Sometimes they get a wash, sometimes they don’t.”
That is something I didn’t want to hear.
On Thursday, the eve of opening day at Coors Field, here is what I wanted to hear:
Considering the dismal expectations leveled at these Rockies, how would the team's CEO define success this season?
“Success is a world championship to us,” he told me.
That is what we all want to hear.
Believing it, that’s another story.
There’s no spinning the ugly truth: The Rockies usually lose. In 13 of 20 seasons, they have lost more games than they won. It's gotten worse lately. They lost 98 games in 2012 and 89 in 2011. They have never won the NL West and don’t appear equipped to snap that streak in 2013.
"We’ve got to win. We understand that," Monfort said. “We are just as disappointed and embarrassed as anybody about our record last year. And really the year before that. We get it. We know that.”
Under brilliant sunshine, Monfort toured media through the best part of the Rockies — their ballpark. Coors Field underwent $6 million in spiffy renovations.
More than ever, it is still part playing field, part playland.
Inside the field-level suite in right field, Monfort pointed out the shuffleboard table. Nice touch, if you like shuffleboard, and I do.
Inside the Blue Moon Brewing Co., a bar, he pointed out the "Colorado Rockies 20th Anniversary Ale." Nice touch, if you like beer, and I do.
Outside the ballpark, standing next to a green area called The Garden, Monfort cracked: “So when they passed the marijuana law ..."
Inside the Press Club, a super-duper suite, Monfort got serious.
Nice touch, if you like winning baseball teams, and I do.
“At the end of the day, the record is all that’s important,” Monfort said. “We could have the nicest guys in the world. We can have the (most) talented guys in the world. But at the end of the day you’ve got to win.”
When Monfort views his team through the owner's eyes, he sees the same strengths and weaknesses as the rest of us.
"I think we have just a tremendous offensive team. They showed it those first three games, so it’s easy for me to say that. You look right down our lineup and then there’s some guys that aren’t playing every day (who are capable). We’ve got some tremendous offensive players. Offensively, yeah, I’m very excited. Pitching is what we’ve got to keep after."
For these Rockies, who host the Padres on Friday, I would define success as a .500 record.
Eighty-one wins would be progress. Baby steps to respectability. Give the paying customer as many opportunities to cheer as to cringe.
Otherwise, criticism of team ownership is going to continue, and it should.
“It’s easier for me to take it when somebody’s complaining about 98 losses, because that’s how many we had," Monfort said. "It’s not as if I’m going to say, ‘Well, if this or that or whatever would’ve happened, it would have been different.’
"The fact is we lost 98 games. We’ve just got to take it and we’ve got to get better.”
That is what we all want to hear.
Believing it, that's another story.
The Rockies can spruce up Coors Field with a kid’s playground, Dinger's Dugout, that features talking toys. They can spruce up the game-day experience with mega-suites that entertain up to 50 fans.
It's past time the win total gets spruced up.
Paul Klee is the Denver sports columnist for The Gazette. He can be reached via email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or on Twitter (@Klee_Gazette).
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