Falling Into Place

After fielding a lousy product for years, Charlie and Dick Monfort found themselves at the helm of a pennant-winning baseball team last October, after the Rockies went on their improbable tear. Was it dumb luck or part of the plan?
April 2008

Click here to view a slideshow of the 2007 season from photojournalist Joshua Duplechian.

In what should have been the greatest moment of their professional lives, Charlie and Dick Monfort climbed onto a makeshift stage in the middle of Coors Field. Well after 10 p.m. on a sleety, bone-chilling October night, the owners of Colorado's perpetually mediocre baseball team were primed for some long-awaited vindication.

Along with 50,213 delirious, shivering fans, the brothers had just watched their beloved Rockies win their 21st game in 22 tries, an unprecedented late-season streak that turned the team from forgettable also-rans into National League champions. It was a stunning turn of events. At the start of the season, the Monforts had flatly stated their underwhelming goal for 2007: a .500 finish. The flaccid proclamation—combined with the two-year contract extensions the Monforts announced on opening day for the Rockies' underperforming manager and general manager—further enraged locals already fed up with years of watching their incompetent owners whittle away the Rockies' allure with bad personnel moves and ill-spent signings. The Denver Post's Mark Kiszla had called for fans to boycott the team and protest at the beginning of each home stand until the Monforts sold their interests "to ownership that can afford more than dreams of mediocrity."

It wasn't until mid-September that the baseball gods, the most capricious of sports deities, deigned to right the Rockies' ship. Suddenly the team couldn't lose. One wild month later, halfway through what had been dubbed "Rocktober," the Coors' infield churned, a sea of black and purple celebration. In the middle of it all were the Monforts, bear-hugging and high-fiving players, coaches, and colleagues with the gleeful satisfaction that their earnest but snail-paced rebuilding plan had finally borne fruit. Surely the fans and media who had ridden them for the past decade would have their epiphany: So that's what those idiots were up to. All the bad blood, the anger, the blame—that would be wiped away with the 2007 National League pennant.

Amid the commotion, a league official handed over the traditional multi-columned, wood and gold trophy. The crowd, thrilled by the month-long run of good fortune and great baseball, roared when it passed to series MVP Matt Holliday, to long-suffering team leader Todd Helton, even to the once-maligned manager Clint Hurdle. But when the elusive prize landed in the hands of the Monforts—the owners who had finally brought Denver its first winner in years and its most exciting baseball team ever—the cheers dampened as scattered but unmistakable boos floated down from the stands.