I caught myself reading this FanGraphs article written by Paul Swydan about the Rockies perhaps being a sleeper team in 2015. Anytime someone says the Rockies can win something, I listen. But the first two sentences of the article put me off and also brought home a point for me. Centered on this one blurb, “they’re (the Rockies) just kind of there.” After 21 seasons of zero NL West titles, three playoff appearances, and zero 100 loss seasons, the Rockies have only been in the national spotlight once, that being the 2007 World Series. After 21 years, the Rockies have neither been known as a horrendous team nor a great one, “they’re just kind of there.”
If you weren’t a Rockies fan and you were to name all 30 teams in Major League baseball, chances are the Rockies are at the top of the list of teams you would forget. Why is this? As I said, it’s not like the Rockies are brand new, even the Nationals are now ten years old. There haven’t been any changes in ten years in the leagues in terms of expansion or relocation. The only thing that has changed is team’s ballparks and uniform styles. All somewhat trivial stuff compared to wins and losses, or is it?
The Rockies have a great foundation in Coors Field and the rich culture of Denver. Although it may not be Portland or Philadelphia with awesome TV shows about the city, it has a great head start on other locations. There is tons to do in Denver and we have famous locations, and famous products, unlike places like Tampa Bay. (What is your purpose Tampa?) Heck, even our team name, the Rockies, is a direct tie to the thing for which Colorado is mostly known. (Seriously, it’s sunnier here [3107 hours] than it is in Tampa … You have nothing Rays!)
Where the Rockies have failed is capitalizing on this culture in the way they are branded. What do I mean by that in baseball speak? Our uniforms stink! Or at least, there is nothing unique/memorable about them. The Rockies home uniforms are almost a direct carbon copy of the evil empires, the New York Yankees’ uniforms, just with a wood mark slapped on instead of an insignia. I’m convinced the Rockies road uniforms are more-or-less the Giants’ set. (BRING ROAD PINSTRIPES BACK BABY!) Then we have the thirds or the alternates or the “not-the-status-quo unis.” The Rockies go with the purple people eaters look specifically on Mondays which is possibly my least favorite jersey in the history of sports next to this, this, this, this, and this. But the concept is what I’m looking for, it makes the Rockies stand out, it’s different; no other team in the bigs is purple.
The other alternates are the black vests, my personal favorite, but really bad for building an identity. What do I mean by that? Well, if you click on my least favorite uniforms above, most are black. Why is black bad? It’s not, like I just said, my favorite Rockies unis are black, but the color is bad in cases where a team has had a better uniform or a more familiar look. Black is bad because any team, in any league, in any sport can use it. There is nothing about it that makes you think Rockies. But there is part of the black vests that make you think Rockies, the vest part. Roll with me for a second. Okay, so vests aren’t so traditional in baseball, (sorry Ted Kluszewski) but they can be for the Rockies. The one thing the Rockies have that nobody else has is vests. They’ve got the recently retired white ones and the recently brought back and aforementioned black ones. Add grey, white, and purple, and you have a set. Why am I suggesting making baseball uniform history? That way the Rockies are not “just there,” they’re something! This isn’t a joke either; I seriously think the Rockies should commit to the vests. Why not? The Rockies would need to drastically change their uniforms or logos to make something memorable any other way. The vest way (TM) allows the Rockies to keep what they already have, which is just fine in my eyes (their logos are very solid), and make something more memorable. Plus if the Rockies go all vests, there is a greater chance of the “Turn Ahead the Clocks” comeback.
Come back, you bat flipping magician Larry Walker, come back!
What else can the Rockies do with their uniforms that aren’t messing with their already established brand? This one is easy; get some sweet stirrups, and make your players wear them. You don’t like the pajama pant look? Tough; you’re getting traded. The Yankees make you shave and the Rockies will make you wear your pants the right way. Is it that hard? Everyone in college does it. You don’t need to make them wear the 15 inchers like Ryne Sandberg wore, although Ryno is in the Hall of Fame, and those stirrups should be too. You can wear them lower; even Ubaldo Jimenez had them while he was here. The problem is they’re plain black and don’t do anything for you. Put some purple or white stripes or mountains; I don’t know, put a Picasso on those bad boys. Look, even the Cubs figured out a way to make their pretty traditional uniforms unique. They put a small Cubs logo on the pants and voila it’s different.
What can the Rockies do, outside of the uniforms, to build a better identity? The capital R. Replace any R with a capital R; it’s simple and easy. It works Really well when you’Re making Rockies slogans, or changing minoR league affiliates. (Go away Modesto Nuts and Boise Hawks; you have no R’s!) They alReady, for the most paRt, do this, which is hilarRous to think someone in the Rockies maRketing office is trying to find synonyms for woRds that have R’s in them. Come on the caRavan? WhoeveR that dude is, he or she is a pRo.
Besides the ridiculous, the Rockies could get really good at winning or losing, but they’ve proven they can’t really do either efficiently. Yay purgatory! How about this: make yourself synonymous with your state, which happens to be one of the most memorable in the country. (By the way, I hate that we are the Colorado Rockies and not the Denver [whatevers.] All baseball teams should be named after their cities not states [besides the Twins, whose nickname is their city’s name.]) Incorporate more Colorado-ey things. Yeah, the uniforms could be sick, if they went old school Nuggets-ish, or state-flag inspired like the og Rockies, or even put in a mountain. But what I’m saying is make people think Colorado even more so than just Rockies.
One of my favorite pieces this site has done relates directly to building a Rockies identity, Attention Celebrities The Colorado Rockies Need You to Win!
We have great music; get a little live music station to play during half inning breaks. Can’t be done? BS. The Nashville Predators do it. Plus, I’m sure Purple Row’s Drew Creasman would be happy to perform. I know they already do C-list country music concerts at Coors, but stop it with that, we’re better than that. (I’m not sayin’ country music is bad, just sayin’ it’s not us, it’s more Texas than us.) Add more music; make it live, death to dubstep and death to Vengaboys. “Hey, Hey, My, My, Rock and Roll can never die!” – Neil Young. Keeping on the Colorado theme, make the beer all local. Budweiser has a deal with the MLB so it could be tough to remove the Clydesdales, but we have Coors for a starter. I’m not sure if Coors Field has Left Hand Brewery, but I know they have Oskar Blues. Either way, make it more available. Also, I’m not 21, so technically I have no idea how any of these taste, so refer all beer questions to former Zinger and now Row(er) Eric Garcia McKinley. Either way, you get the point on the adult beverages.
It’s hard to think of things to add to Coors Field because they kind of nailed it, but where is the alpine slide Monfort? Get your stuff together. Instead of Bernie the Brewer, we could have whatever that purple thing is slide from the Rooftop to the fountains on an alpine slide. They can call it the Dinger dRop (TM).
I’m not just interested in the baseball side of baseball but the business side. Ther Rockies will, as will every baseball team, always have people who want to spend a day at the park, and that’s great. What I’m sick of are the people who are Rockies fans but wear Broncos gear to the game. I’ve long said Colorado is a baseball state and it is, but why are the Broncos king in terms of gear in the state? The Rockies have the most marketable item, the baseball cap. It’s because the Broncos have made themselves synonymous with Denver to the point where I almost hate the fact that I’m not a fan of the Broncos despite being a proud Coloradan. Do people feel this way with the Rockies; probably not. It’s most likely the winning seasons the Broncos have had that the Rockies have not that garners this attraction. But, I’ll take Todd Helton over John Elway any day and I’ll take Larry Walker over Terrell Davis. Heck, give me Troy Tulowitzki over Shannon Sharpe. This all comes back to building a Rockies identity. The Avalanche, now two Stanley Cups and twenty years later, have done a good job in this category, but the Rockies have a leg up because baseball is and always will be king. (I don’t even watch the Super Bowl, but hey, you get a blog and you can write your opinions).
How do the Rockies build their identity? “just win baby” (ha-ha Broncos fans, you must hate me). Seriously, win, be more unique, be more creative, and stop being ordinary and a laughing stock at times. Before the LA Kings had won two Cups in three years, they were known as the team who transformed Twitter for teams from an info tool into a fun marketing tool. You’ve got to find your niche Rockies; I’m here to help.
It couldn’t get much worse #Rockies2015Slogans.