DENVER • Hate to say it, but the Broncos sound a lot like the Rockies. Play like ‘em, too.
As the Broncos fall deeper into the abyss, their orange-and-blue tumble has a purple haze to it.
Vance Joseph was their Walt Weiss moment. Big-money free agents Bryce Callahan, Kareem Jackson and Ja’Wuan James have helped out on the football field as much as Jake McGee, Bryan Shaw, Wade Davis on the baseball diamond. With win rates of 39 percent (the Broncos since Super Bowl 50) and 42 percent (the Rockies this season), the parallels don’t stop there.
Sunday at Coors Field marks the final game of the season for the Rockies. They entered this final series, against the Brewers, with a last-place record of 68-91. If the Broncos lose to the Jaguars at Empower Field at Mile High, their season’s all but cooked, too. It’s Week 4 of the NFL season, and the Broncos have resorted to pointing fingers at loyal fans and local media.
“Only you guys are sitting here not believing in us. If you’re a true fan, then you believe in us. If you’re not, if you’re just a bandwagoner, then you’re going to believe what you want to believe.”
Hmmm. Sound like a baseball owner you know?
But it wasn’t Rockies CEO Dick Monfort firing off an ill-advised email in the dark days of 2014. That was local hero Phillip Lindsay, Wednesday, pushing back on behalf of the 0-3 Broncos.
“At the end of the day we still have a lot of football left,” Lindsay continued. “If you haven’t played this game, then you just don’t know. You’re looking on (from) the outside. We have a lot of games left and we can still be in the playoffs and we can still make a big run for it. When we do it, I don’t want everybody jumping on the bandwagon saying I told you so.”
Despite the severe slide of each guilty party, the loyalty of Broncos and Rockies fans remains astounding, even while their beloveds’ records are anything but. Game attendance for both has not been hampered, at least not yet.
No one’s going to slam Lindsay for how he plays the game. If there’s a better story or hair racing through the NFL, Hollywood better get to work on the script. But Rule No. 1 is the same now as it ever was: never take shots at the fans who make these egregious sports contracts possible.
Ask the Rockies.
There’s a growing disconnect between the Broncos and a seriously loyal fan base that’s sold out every iteration of Mile High since 1970. And it smells like something you’d whiff on the corner of 20th and Blake.
What the Broncos don’t seem to understand is what the Rockies often fail to grasp: fan frustration doesn’t stem from the 0-3 start that can be explained away as one of those things — a bad break here, a tough opening schedule there. Broncos Country is down in the dumps thanks to a long run of losing, the big picture, not just the winless September they’re enduring now. It’s a lot like the sentiment coming from Rox fans, who recognize playoff runs in 2017 and 2018 were a delightful respite from the norm, but not the norm. The lack of pitching they’ve seen in 2019 triggers anxious memories of a quarter century without a division title.
The current crop of Broncos and Rockies are paying the price for the losing of yesteryear, too. The Broncos are 20-31 since the glory days of Super Bowl 50. Sunday marks 301 days since their last win — Dec. 2, 2018, against the Cincinnati Bengals. They spent $105 million in free agency on Callahan (who’s been ruled out for another 4-6 weeks with a foot injury), Jackson (questionable for Sunday, hamstring) and James (out for Sunday, knee).
Prior to this final homestand, the Rockies were 24-51 since July 1. Since winning a series in San Francisco at the end of June, they went 8-30 away from home and didn’t win a road series. They spent $106 million on bullpen arms McGee, Shaw and Davis, who entered Friday with 15 runs allowed in 13 September games, according to the excellent Purple Dinosaur Podcast.
You can score a seat behind home plate at Coors Field on Sunday for $20. You can land a Broncos ticket for games in December for under $60.
Don’t fret. Thankfully and timely, the Nuggets open training camp in Colorado Springs at the U.S. Olympic Training Center on Tuesday. The Avalanche opens its regular season Thursday at The Can. Both believe they can win the whole enchilada — sooner, rather than later.
What’s orange, blue, purple and hurts as bad as a bruise? The Mile High City on Sunday.