The Colorado Rockies have crushed Kris Bryant’s soul

The Colorado Rockies have crushed Kris Bryant's soul

For the most part, fans these days accept that a player signing a generational wealthy contract with a team is more than enough of an end to itself. Few players, out of the very few who make the majors at all, get to take the opportunity of free agency and set themselves up for the rest of their careers. While there’s still an angry, high-volume minority that will still be angry at a player for accepting the offer that a team gave him, most of the rest of us get it.

Still, there are free-agent deals that still make us raise an eyebrow. Was this really the best they could do, either in terms of dollars or years or fit with that team? Kris Bryant’s deal with the Rockies two years ago was one of those. Not the money, which was handsome and well-deserved. But if there’s any team that a player would take less money to avoid, it was the Rockies. The most boneheaded, stubborn, ill-equipped, under- or wrong-staffed collection of doofuses in a front office anywhere in the league. This has been a team with no direction, no plan, no hope, no nothing other than a gorgeous ballpark that its fans continue to populate for a good six years. When Bryant signed his deal in Denver, they had just paid the Cardinals $50 million to relieve them of the burden of having Nolan Arenado on their team. This was Bryant electing for Baseball Abyss, and it’s exactly what he got.

Sure sounds like there’s some remorse these days.

In a pretty open interview with The Athletic’s Sam Blum, Bryant doesn’t sound like a player who is trying to justify his choice or amp up his current team. He sounds like someone who has to live with a mistake. In the piece, he laments how the lockout before the 2022 season left him with little time to sign a deal before the season, and the Rockies had the most present offer, while openly wondering if he had just waited what else might have presented itself. While he doesn’t outright curse the pressure he felt to sign somewhere, anywhere to get his season started, he also hardly dismisses the idea either.

Bryant goes on to portray a player looking to just enjoy playing the game again, be healthy again, and find some meaning in it other than pursuing playoff spots and World Series titles, a joy he knew in Chicago and San Francisco. Which one supposes is the rationalization that every Rockie has to find because they already know they’re going to be THE SUCK.

It’s hard to remember after two injury-ravaged seasons at Coors Field that Bryant walked into free agency never having had a season with an OPS+ under 120 or had racked up 28.2 bWAR in seven full seasons. It seems like ages ago that he collected a Rookie of The Year and MVP in back-to-back seasons, not just putting him on a Cooperstown trajectory, but almost guaranteeing it.

Certainly, a level of sympathy is limited for a player making $26 million a year. And yet Bryant definitely sounds like someone who knows he has to live with a rushed and bad decision for five more years, at which point it is likely he’ll be either too old or too broken down to pick a better spot for himself, or both. While Bryant in that interview laments the hullabaloo his arrival in Chicago caused in 2015, there is an undercurrent of selling himself something, and that he’d take that sort of attention again easily if it meant ever playing another baseball game that mattered. Do we really believe him when he says it’s comforting to not face the same pressure every day as the Dodgers will? He’s either selling something or he’s deluded.

It is almost criminal that in a city that has as passionate of a fanbase as Denver does (they drew 2.6 million last season to watchdog vomit), the team itself is one where players go to die inside. Coors is too cool of a setting and Rockies fans are too dedicated for such a thing. But this is what the weirdo Manfort brothers have wrought, and it doesn’t appear like it’ll get better anytime soon.

NFL sitting on game-changing technology?

The NFL has basically been sitting on technology that could replace two or three helpless refs trying to figure out where to spot the ball in relation to the first-down marker, as well as putting the lives of whatever altacockers are working the chain gang in peril as they stand on the sidelines trying to duck players moving at rates that they can’t possibly comprehend.

This actually shouldn’t be a huge shock, and there should have been a push to mimic what the World Cup used to navigate what is offside and what isn’t within a minute thanks to that tech. It would hardly be a leap to think the same damn thing could be used to triangulate where the ball is when a player’s knee or forearm or whatever else hits the ground. And in fact, the league has had it for the NextGen stats, and either never thought of applying it to actual stuff that decides games or simply refused.

But then, when a league is setting TV ratings records every year, there isn’t a lot of urgency for anything, is there?

Welcome bats, Cotter!

Let’s end with this goal by Vegas’s Paul Cotter, who apparently played hurling in his youth. Or must’ve:

It’s like that old Tiger Woods Nike ad, except it was on ice and moving with some slob draped all over him and it was coming over his shoulder. So yeah, just like that.

Enjoy the weekend, people.

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Sam Fels