Rockies owner offers false choice to fans, business supporters

By Bart Taylor | Jul 15, 2014

Most business owners have little in common with Charlie Monfort of the Colorado Rockies. For one, owners rarely fail in major league baseball, or in the NFL, NBA, or NHL. No one loses money. It’s fantasy-business.

Real companies often fail and those that succeed do so in conditions that are at times impossibly hard.

Sure, in major professional sports, teams occasionally suffer financial losses year-to-year. And Donald Sterling self-immolated. But an owner’s asset nearly always appreciates at a rate that offsets any short-term loss. Moreover, the rules of this fantasy economy help owners who've underperformed relative to their peers. Make a few bad hires or personell decisions? You get first dibs on the best future talent in the market to help right the ship.

The sad truth is that the owner of the Rockies is failing in a business rigged for him to win.

I’ve interviewed Charlie Monfort and like him, and this likeability serves Monfort well in his defense of the Rockies’ operations. But as Rockies owner he offers fans a false choice: retain management failing at their jobs or sacrifice the Rockies family-like culture. One does not follow the other. In real life only a successful business, managed and staffed by overachieving employees, provides the culture for families to prosper. Insisting his organization stand pat is tone deaf; fans and the business community that support the Rockies know better.

By one important metric, Monfort’s operation is succeeding. Fans continue to favor the Rockies entertainment value despite its won-loss record. Not surprisingly, the party-deck has been a hit with fans.

But again, few businesses have the option of failing in their primary endeavor, only to prosper because the community in which they operate provides lift - in this case MLB’s popularity offers a safety net.

As well-intentioned as he is, Monfort must make changes in his organization because that’s what well-managed businesses do. Until he does, not only will the Rockies be seen as a loser in baseball circles, respect for the brand will deteriorate in the business community. The Rockies may be a financial success, but they're also a case study in how not to run a real business, a brand attribute Charlie Monfort should work to remedy.