The Colorado Rockies hold nearly every attendance record in Major League Baseball. For the first five years of their existence, scalping Rockies tickets may have been the most lucrative business in the state.
The honeymoon ended, and reality set in. Instead of fans packing the seats at Coors Field, season after season of losing 90 games or more started to wear on the fans. Management had a plan, but many in Rockies nation didn't have the patience to wait out a generation of minor leaguers that the front office insisted would propel the club to contention.
The Rockies were an afterthought in Denver. The town's darling, the Denver Broncos, were still the most important news topic. Fans crammed into Invesco Field regardless of the fact that the team was largely mediocre.
Even a surprise appearance in the World Series couldn't sway fans to spend their summer nights at 20th and Blake. The team was labeled a fluke and, frankly, most fans in the city couldn't list off too many more players than Todd Helton.
After a disappointing 2008 season, fans felt justified in labeling the club a fluke and continued complaining that the Rockies were simply a farm system for the other 29 clubs. Especially when Matt Holliday was shipped to the Oakland Athletics early in the offseason for three players that no one in Denver had ever heard of.
Then the 2009 Rockies stormed back from 12 games under .500 in June to a playoff appearance, even coming within a weekend of winning the National League West title.
That effort, however, did little to change the perception in Denver. Attendance went up, but getting a ticket was only tough when the Boston Red Sox or Chicago Cubs came to town. In those situations, the stadium was not packed in order to root the Rockies past an opponent, it was packed full of people wearing the visiting club's apparel.
The Rockies came up short in 2010 after a valiant effort to climb back into contention, but the offseason was filled with surprises. Re-signing Jorge De La Rosa seemed like a lost cause, until the team did it. That alone would have been a good enough signing for most fans to be happy, but the Rockies continued on to lock up Troy Tulowitzki and the Scott Boras-represented Carlos Gonzalez to long-term deals.
If there were ever a time when fans complained about the cheapness of the Rockies' owners, Dick and Charlie Monfort, those complaints were muted with those signings. It has become clear that the team's plan to contend was working, and working well. They had built a club that was competitive, and not one year at a time but for years to come. They had also built a club where free agents were picking the Rockies over other offers, as evidenced by the Ty Wigginton deal.
The plan has come full circle—with one part remaining to be complete. The Rockies have put a winner on the field, they have put together a team that is fun to watch and fun to be a fan of. They have done their part. Now it is the fans turn to respond and show that they will come back.
It's time for Colorado residents to embrace their baseball team. Everything that they complained about in the team's struggling years has been fulfilled. It is time for the fans to fulfill their end of the deal.