We seem to be having some kind of misunderstanding. We're getting the sense over here at the Wave that you, the Rapids, think providing information to us, and to Rapids fans at large, is a nuisance. Burgundy Wave, who published this highly unflattering opinion piece by our former editor, weren't invited to media day last week. I can't help but think our critical take on the Rapids highly frustrating off-season in articles like this, and this and this, are partly responsible.
Granted, access isn't really something we at the Wave desperately need. I personally have never received an email, a tweet, a piece of information*, or so much as a how-do-you-do from the Rapids.** And that is, to be honest, fine with me.
I don't want to replace the paid journalists who get the sit down interviews. Daniel Boniface at the Denver Post is an excellent journalist. So is Marco Cummings with mlssoccer.com. They both write about the team very well. They both get interviews and face time with players and coaches, on the record. I'm not a journalist. I don't want to be. I have two other jobs. And kids. This is my hobby.
The trade-off for Cummings and Boniface in covering the Rapids, though, is that they don't really have full license to be critical (some might say ‘honest') about the team's struggles or shortcomings. Because the team has historically had zero tolerance for unwelcome criticism from those that are close to the team.
Nonetheless, I feel like I have to state something that I think should be blatantly obvious: we're on your side, Rapids front office. We want what is best for the team. We are loyal, and we care about the club more than is rationally warranted. I stop to remind the front office of this because perhaps they hate us, or think we're out to torch the club. We're not. It's a lot like our political two-party system. I may disagree vehemently with adherents to another political ideology, but damned if I don't think they're as American as I am, with the same love of the flag and the constitution as me.
Burgundy Wave is loyal and true to the Rapids. We may disagree (or, in the comments, provide ample forum for disagreement) about the best direction of the club. But we, too, are behind this club 100%.
Let me list the ways in which Burgundy Wave is good for the Rapids for ya. Both because it's simple, and because readers love lists.
1. Nobody else in Colorado covers the Rapids, every single day. Nobody.
Denver has a daily paper, an independent rag, a sports magazine, four local news stations, and seven sports radio stations. None of them cover the Rapids more than a few mentions a year. The Post gives some pre-season ink to the club, but once the season starts, the score of the Rapids game gets three sentences in an AP wire report, win or lose. Local radio covers the team sporadically at best. I saw Drogba's free kick on the local news once. The only newsworthy item that dented this total media silence in 2015 was Pablo's mustache. Which the Wave laughed at briefly, and moved on from. Because it was a gimmick, and a distraction. We're here for the soccer. Once Broncos pre-season starts, though, you can kiss the Rapids goodbye in every media outlet in town, except here at Burgundy Wave. Where we are vaguely aware of other sports, and the many hordes of orange-clad nouveau-rugby enthusiasts in town. But couldn't be bothered with anything other than footy.
Burgundy Wave is writing articles, covering news, giving analysis and floating rumors every single day. We're looking in the back of a tweeted photo to figure out that Stephen Keel is lurking. We're breaking down a six second Vine to determine that Marlon Hairston's getting reps at right back. We're flying to Sacramento to cover a pre-season game. We're breaking down the post-game passing graphs to see long-term tactical trends. Because MLS and the Denver media barely do that for the Pids. And if they do, they are afraid they can't be too negative.
2. We are Jack's enraged spleen.
Fans need an outlet. They need a place to both vent their frustrations, and to read an honest description of the frustrations they witnessed on field. We are that outlet. Nobody wants to read a Pravda-style regurgitation of front office talking-points about why the team can't score. Nobody wants to hear Pablo Mastroeni's sound bytes after a 2 to 0 loss in Salt Lake about how the team ‘fought hard' or ‘just couldn't finish.' Fans need something more honest. If they don't get it, they'll go elsewhere.
Mark Kizla can rip Dick Monfort and the Rockies (the local baseball team, ICYMI) in the Post, and still have access on Monday. So can Woody Paige. Neither of them care about the Rapids. The people who cover the team closest - Marco Cummings for mlssoccer.com; Altitude Sports; Marcelo Balboa and Richard Fleming; are all paid-for or owned-by the Colorado Rapids and Kroenke Sports Enterprises. They are completely and totally incapable of saying something harsh about the Rapids, even if it's true, without getting reprimanded. I was impressed and proud that Matt Doyle, David Gass, and Andrew Wiebe could be critical of the Rapids on ExtraTime Radio, but as paid MLS employees, even they have a line they can't cross. For Burgundy Wave, there is no line.
That benefits the Rapids. It keeps fans engaged. It keeps the conversation going. It keeps us passionate. You may not like us when we're angry. You may not like Chris when he titles an article ‘$%^& the Rapids.' But we draw attention to the team in fat times and lean. Ain't nobody else in Denver can say that.
3. We do this for love, not money.
We don't get paid. I've never taken a thin dime for every article I've written for this blog. I do it because I love to write and think about this team. If people appreciate what I write, and say thanks once in a while, it's worth it. After I head out to DSGP for the night - have some beers, tweet with friends, put my head in my hands a few times - I come home and kiss my kids and then write an outline. Then I get up and rewatch the game Sunday night, and write a re-cap. How many people not getting paid by the Rapids willingly re-watch a 1-0 September loss?
Our Editor John's even crazier. He's on the hook for all breaking Rapids news. Those news stories often break with no warning and no details from inside Rapids headquarters. HE WENT TO A PRESEASON GAME IN SACRAMENTO. Even people in Sacramento don't want to go to Sacramento. Believe me, I've been there.
The lack of pay means we aren't accountable. I don't care if I get access or not. I don't care if 1 person reads my stuff or a 1 million (ok, I care a little - a million clicks would be pretty cool.) But it also demonstrates how much we truly care about the team- we do this because we think soccer is amazing and we support our local team, through thick and thin.
4. We do it without access.
The sports site Deadspin has had the tagline ‘Sports without access, favor, or discretion' since it launched. Burgundy Wave has discretion - we're not interested in salacious gossip about players, and I've had opportunities to write things that were passed to me a few times that I thought were harsh or hurtful, and so I didn't. Burgundy Wave does have to deal with that part about access, or the lack thereof, though.
The Rapids control information very tightly. Pablo Mastroeni's interview on ExtraTime showed that off perfectly. He stated that he didn't really know what happened with Alan Pulido. He said that, to his knowledge, the Rapids had never spoken to Tim Howard. He was mum on Alejandro Bedoya too. The Rapids didn't share a list of trialists until last Friday, AFTER most had already played in several scrimmages. The team hasn't shared much in the offseason about the strategy or the long term plan. The twitter account keeps things pretty buttoned up (think they're all like that? go check the Galaxy twitter). The Rapids Academy hardly tweets or shares any info at all - they've sent just 18 tweets since last August.
In my humble opinion, that's part of the problem. When the team keeps things so secretive, it appears like they've got something to hide. So Burgundy Wave naturally writes articles that are somewhat suspicious of what the team is up to. The Rapids traded down in the SuperDraft for allocation cash and to grab the number one spot in the allocation order. They shipped off popular goalkeeper Clint Irwin to Toronto. Some of that cash certainly got dropped on new midfielder Shkelzen Gashi. But the rest of the moves are a mystery. Staying silent on those moves means we're gonna speculate on them, kindly or not. So if you don't like what we write, help us. Give us something to go on here. Be honest. In lieu of that, we've got no recourse but to guess.
5. We are here to stay.
Jerry Seinfeld famously quipped that rooting for a sports team is like rooting for laundry. The players, coaches, executives, and even stadiums eventually move on. The fans are cheering for the colors. That's true with us at the Wave. I personally root for the Rapids and only the Rapids in Colorado. As long as I'm here, no matter who is on the field, how good or bad the team is, whether MLS begins promotion-relegation in 10 years and the Rapids get sent down to the NDPDWASL***, I'm a fan. Colorado for Life.
The front office staff, the players, the colors and the stadium are all fungible. They change. We'll still be here.
... ... ...
All this is my way of saying: ease up. We aren't your enemy. We're your friends. Your friend who tells you when your haircut is jacked up. Your friend who tells you your girlfriend is banging the bartender. Your friend that takes the keys when you're drunk. Sure, we might be obnoxious. Sure, you may not like everything we say. But we like the Rapids.
Our writers will continue to speak their minds, as all independent critics, fans, and writers will do. We might be able to share the club's side of the story more if you invite us into the tent a little. Give us an invite to media day. Share a transfer rumor. Give us a story that you know won't interest the Denver Post. Ask us to come out to practice. If not, that's fine. We don't care. We'll write what we see and what we think. Many Colorado soccer fans will read our stuff and make up their own minds. And most of them will probably conclude what we conclude, day in and day out: we should support our local club in burgundy. Through thick and thin.
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* Whenever I've broken news about the Rapids, it usually comes from a bad Google Translation of a Greek or Spanish website. I'm not a reporter, I'm just a guy with an internet connection and a soccer addiction.
** I mean, except for my ticket rep, Thomas, who's a nice guy. But I'm pretty sure I'm just a guy in section 106 with a credit card to him.
*** That's the National Developmental Professional Divisional Western Association Soccer League. You probably haven't heard of it.