Opinion | Bruce Butler: Money for nothing

I have a confession. I am a Colorado Rockies fan!

I am enough of a die-hard Rockies fan that I would trade two Denver Broncos Super Bowl victories for one Rockies World Series win. I don’t say that lightly — I am a Broncos fan too. The Broncos have no need to worry, however. The odds of the Rockies winning a World Series — let alone the National League West — anytime soon is about as likely as the New York Times endorsing Donald Trump for president. As the Major League Baseball season kicks off the 2023 season, in about 10 days, hope springs eternal that the Rockies will have fewer than 100 losses this year. Even before second baseman Brendan Rodgers went down with a season-ending shoulder injury, a last-place finish was likely, now it is almost guaranteed.

While many have been distracted by the NCAA “March Madness” Basketball tournament, I have been tuned into the World Baseball Classic, which brings an Olympics/All-Star playoff atmosphere to spring training. It is bittersweet to watch former Rockies star Nolan Arenado vacuum up ground balls and make superhuman throws across the baseball diamond for split-second outs. Go Team USA! It is even more bittersweet to think the Rockies still owe the St. Louis Cardinals another $20 million for the benefit of having Nolan Arenado work his gold-glove, All Star magic at third base.

I like to see current and former Rockies play for their respective countries, but I must admit that I was so embarrassed by Rockies relief pitcher Daniel Bard’s appearance in Saturday night’s USA vs. Venezuela game that I started rummaging around in the pantry for a brown paper bag that I could cut eye holes into and place over my head to hide my shame — only to remember that paper bags are now pseudo-contraband in Colorado. Bard entered the game with a 5-2 lead, loaded the bases, recorded zero outs, and fractured Houston Astros All-Star Jose Altuve’s thumb before exiting the game. Honestly, I would have pitched as badly, except that I would not have hit Jose Altuve with enough velocity to fracture his thumb. Fortunately, perennial Rockies arch-nemesis Trea Turner hit a grand slam late in the game, leading Team USA to victory and absolving Bard from the tournament-ending Hall of Shame.

Every player, and every one of us, are going to have a bad day occasionally. Daniel Bard is an amazing career rehabilitation story, and he had a stellar comeback season last year. But why can’t one of the Red Sox or Dodgers players blow up on the international stage? Naturally, it must be one of the Rockies….

Truth is, the Rockies are like a cold sore. It hurts when you press your tongue on a cold sore, just like it hurts to watch the Rockies, but I can’t stop doing it. Or maybe I can? The “mercy rule” for Rockies fans may have been invoked courtesy of AT&T Sportsnet. The Colorado Rockies are one of the AT&T Sportsnet regional market teams that was informed about three weeks ago that AT&T Sportsnet, owned by Warner Brothers/Discovery, could not afford to pay the TV rights for the 2023 season. Warner Brothers/Discovery told impacted teams to transfer ownership of their TV rights by March 31. The network may file for bankruptcy in April.

This means the status of Rockies broadcasts this season are very uncertain. It also means that three of the four major sports teams in Colorado may not be available on Comcast/Xfinity cable. Local sports fans know that Comcast and Kroenke Sports Entertainment — which owns the Colorado Avalanche, Denver Nuggets, and Altitude TV,— have been in a multiyear dispute that deprived Colorado fans of the ability to watch the Colorado Avalanche win the Stanley Cup in 2022.

This leads me back to my perpetual question to Comcast: “What am I getting for the $8 regional sports fee that I pay every month?” The Broncos are mostly shown on Denver broadcast TV channels, for which I pay $28.90 a month, so that can’t be it. The answer I have received from Comcast is: “Nothing. We bill an $8 regional sports surcharge because we can.” It may be time to dump Comcast.

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