There are teams you want to see lose. Franchises that give you some sort of sick joy from their struggles, fanbases you eagerly wish August mathematical elimination upon. The Colorado Rockies are not one of those teams.
They're mostly harmless, up there in the mountains. Their ballpark makes for some arcade stats, but that's no ones' fault but the air density's. After a precocious mid-'90s period of success, they've settled into a pattern of mediocrity (at best), interrupted by a Jesus-fueled Rocktober in 2007. Mostly, they're just kind of there. It's impossible to hate the Rockies or their fans, and as Colorado sputters through another lost season, things are turning kind of ugly.
A local radio host is openly counting down the losses until No. 100 (the team is on pace for exactly that many). Coaches are being heckled. And yet, fans feel powerless. Their signs are being confiscated. They aren't allowed to express themselves with the time-honored tradition of donning brown paper bags. And worst of all, attendance is still excellent. It's weird to complain about full stadiums, but a full stadium for a team without a plan is the best way to keep things from changing.
But how to protest?
"As a security measure, post-9/11, any clothing which conceals a guest's face is prohibited, including but not limited to, costumes and masks," explained Jay Alves, the Rockies' vice president of communications and public relations. "That would include bags over a guest's head."
And the team's policy about signs critical of the Rockies?
"Whether the club is in first place or last place, banners and signs are permitted, provided they are baseball related and in good taste," Alves said. "Signs that contain negative messages towards our club are permitted if they do not contain offensive or profane language. ... If a fan refuses to put down a sign that contains offensive or profane language, they will be asked to leave the ballpark."
Despite pulling up the rear of a pretty depressing division, the Rockies are still drawing 34,000 a night. Their TV contract is up in two years, and they're in line for a massive new revenue influx. So there's little incentive for management to change its philosophy, and you can't fairly expect fans to stop watching or going to games. Other legitimate means of public protest are banned. When acts are out, faith is left—faith that with the new TV deal will come a freer-spending team. But that's two long years away, and Rockies fans can't even bring a bag lunch while they wait.