You'd think after all the crap that has gone down with the Colorado Rapids in the past few months that they'd be the most hopeless team in Colorado sports, but they're still playing catch-up with the dumpster fire on Blake street in LoDo that is the Colorado Rockies. The Rox are the top of the line in professional sports when it comes to complete ineptitude both on the field and off. Three (wild card) playoff appearances in all of team history, the biggest trashbag owner in baseball, a GM that resigned after years of criticism despite being offered an extension... the list goes on. The Rox have been doing this for much longer than the Rapids have.
In the spirit of Halloween, though, I decided to make note of a few comparisons between the two. Are the Rapids slowly degenerating into Rockies levels of terrible?
There's certainly a few things in common. Tim Hinchey has acted as the Dick Monfort of the burgundy boys, shooting off anger towards dissenting fans and journalists and, allegedly, helping to get a media guy fired because of a tweet he didn't like. (Remember when the Rockies stopped talking to journalistic outlets that dared to print vitriol about Rockies teams that absolutely deserved it?)
Player acquisition success has gone down the drain since Gary Smith departed and the 'new era' Rapids began. Other than some gold struck in the draft -- at least they have that over the hilariously inept Rockies organization -- the Rapids have had very little success in terms of picking up new talent. Trades have generally ranged from mediocre to terrible (1st rounder for Mwanga, Chavez for Agbossoumonde) and actual, often hyped, player acquisitions not named Vicente Sanchez or Hendry Thomas have either bombed (Kevin Harbottle, Luis Zapata, Zat freaking Knight) or accomplished very little (Thomas Piermayr, John Neeskens, Jaime Castrillon). Zat Knight might as well be renamed Jamie Moyer.
As a result of that, the team has a core of a few young star-talent players with absolutely nothing around them. When it clicks, it can work well, but an injury or a cold streak can quickly turn a team in the playoff spots into a team suffering a 14-game winless streak to close out a season. Hell, even the 2014 seasons mirrored each other for the Rox and Pids. A hot start, with easily noted signs of unsustainability, followed by a complete and utter collapse thanks to a depth-less squad and a young manager still struggling with the game.
The most obvious and annoying comparison that the two teams share is the endless harping about 'culture'. Both teams seem convinced that they have some sort of special culture built up around the club that can't be questioned. The Rapids aren't quite as bad off as the Rockies in this regard, since the Rockies have gone so far as to say that they refuse to look at outside influences of any sort because it might taint the 'culture', but the Rapids' love of culture is the reason why they hired Pablo Mastroeni with no real other names in the race, a decision that, at least in the short term, blew up in their face.
It actually makes almost no sense with the Rapids, because almost nobody can explain just what this Rapids culture is supposed to be. It's supposed to be #OneClub, but there was absolutely no defining feature to the Rapids this season other than 'shitty defense'. I don't think the club culture is supposed to be 'shitty defense'.
Fortunately, this story has a happy ending: It's MLS, and it's the Rapids, and therefore they are going to end up being at least mediocre and possibly good within two years. It's the circle of life for the Mediocre Warriors in burgundy. And, at the very least, this team showed with the Gary Smith expulsion that if something really does look like it has no future at all, the team isn't afraid to blow a few things up and start it all over again. That alone makes the Rapids a better specimen than the Blake Street Blahs.