It's not often that a newspaper columnist writes a column where every sentence is wrong. But if anyone could do it, Mark Kiszla would certainly be the most likely, and as you will see below, he nearly did it. The offending article appeared in the Sunday, August 27, 2006 Denver Post. Ironically, Kiszla announced over a year ago that he would no longer be writing about the Rockies. If only he had kept his word.

 


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Scraping Hurdle not the solution
By Mark Kiszla
Denver Post Staff Columnist

Yes, that was the title of the article. We thought it was an unfortunate spelling error, too, but if it was, he repeated it on the web site. In any case, he is right, in a way, because merely scraping Hurdle isn't going to have an effect, whereas scrapping Hurdle would probably be a good move.

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After 419 defeats as Rockies manager, Clint Hurdle is the face of baseball frustration in Denver.

Pretty dramatic, but totally meaningless and actually quite wrong. Clint plays the lovable old hayseed to the hilt, while always maintaining a positive attitude without a hint of frustration. The fans in Denver are certainly frustrated, but according to every poll we have ever seen or conducted, very few blame Hurdle. Everyone knows Clint has the job because he is a "Yes Man" for the Monforts, who continue to think they are baseball geniuses, and drive out any manager that thinks he knows more than they do, like Buddy Bell and Jim Leyland, both of whom have found successful employment with other teams. When the Baseball Observer thinks of frustration, Kiszla's picture is more likely to appear than Hurdle's.

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If the coach of any other pro sports franchise in town had been on the job almost five years and never sniffed the playoffs, it would not be a question of whether his job was in jeopardy, but when he would be fired.

"A lot of people say I'm a really nice guy and a horse bleep manager," Hurdle said Saturday night.

Kiszla needs to check his Denver sports history. Those people are right, Clint.

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And that's what detractors were shouting before San Diego put a 5-2 thumping on the Rockies. Colorado has dropped nine of 11 games and is free-falling from playoff contention in the thoroughly mediocre National League.

Somebody has to take the blame.

How is 5-2 a thumping? Who are these detractors, anyway? Probably Kiszla and his compatriots in the press box. The blame is clearly in the owner's lap, but firing O'Dowd and Hurdle would be a good start. A better one would be to fire themselves.

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But here's a news flash for everyone itching to run Hurdle out of Denver.

Firing Hurdle will not fix what's wrong with the Rockies.

Firing Hurdle does not even rank on the first page of a long fix-it list.

A news flash from Kiszla? That would be a news flash.

Firing Hurdle wouldn't fix the Rockies, but it might if it meant that the Monforts have finally emerged from their ego-driven fog and are ready to turn the baseball operations over to some baseball people who really know what they are doing.

It's not on Mark's first page because he prints really, really big with his crayons.

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Firing Hurdle would be the cheap way out for a franchise that has turned frugality into an art form.

Hurdle makes a lot less than most managers already. How is firing him going to reduce costs? Maybe they could go without a manager.

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Depending on your perspective, Hurdle has either been blessed or cursed with more than 750 games on the job in Colorado to prove himself as a major-league manager.
 

[This is the answer to the question.]

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Any way you crunch the numbers, Hurdle makes for the most convenient scapegoat in a mismanaged franchise.

What numbers is Kiszla crunching? It would be interesting to know which numbers indicate the convenience of scapegoats in an organization.

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The patience of Colorado baseball fans is broken worse than the Rockies' bats, which are such a waste of trees environmentalists should march in protest on Blake Street.

What fans? And, the last time I looked, the Rockies were making pretty good use of their bats.

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Firing Hurdle would suggest the Rockies have prime-time players in need of nothing more than guidance and a manager whose only talent is bouncing a baseball in the dugout during games.

Nothing could be farther from the truth.

These statements are both absolutely wrong. Why would firing Clint suggest that the players are better than they are? It would actually suggest the opposite, that management has finally realized that when you don't have overwhelming talent, you can still win if your team is well-managed, disciplined, has a strategy for victory, and plays like a team. Hurdle doesn't bring any of that, and I don't know if he can even bounce a baseball, either. Anyway, with the humidifier, they don't bounce.

So, lots of things are further from the truth.

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I admit it. I bought the bill of goods that young talent is bursting out all over in this organization.

The trouble is, the talent keeps bursting out and playing for other teams, while the Rockies keep the guys who would otherwise be career minor leaguers.

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Please, don't be as stupid as me.

Very few people could be as stupid as you, Mark, so don't worry about it.

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How far is this baseball team from playing a meaningful game in September? The only sporting event in Denver that matters today is a game by the Broncos that does not count in the NFL standings.

This is a poplar refrain among brainless sportscasters in Denver, and really explains why things are the way they are. If the Rockies ever get decent owners, they will find that there are a lot more people in this town that care about baseball than fans of exhibition football games.

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Should the Rockies stagger to the finish line, fans begging to catch baseball fever will have lost passion for the color purple.

"That's something I can't control," Hurdle said. "That's something that will be public opinion."

As punishment for more of the same lame excuses why the Rockies are not ready to win, should Hurdle be shown the door? Not before general manager Dan O'Dowd, who was hired in 1999.

What does it matter who goes first? Both men are just lackies, doing what the Monforts tell them to. They should all be shown the door. But that won't be enough - someone would have to open it for them.

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The Arizona Diamondbacks and Florida Marlins have won the World Series, while the best thing O'Dowd has done in seven years is buy a humidor. Baseball is not rocket science, yet the Rockies act as if winning the pennant is a tougher project than putting a man on the moon.

Not to belabor the point, but the Humidor is probably the worse thing anyone has ever done in the baseball arena in this town. Since they started using the humidor, the Rockies have lost like never before, attendance is the lowest in history, the games are boring, and other teams are complaining. How is any of that good? As a matter of fact, if their is a face of baseball frustration in Denver, it must look a lot like a humidor.

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In the grocery checkout line, nobody confuses Hurdle with Tony La Russa. But it's Rockies ownership, asking us to pay major-league prices for the promise of some minor-league shortstop fielding grounders in Oklahoma, that makes it increasingly hard to keep the faith.

Nobody confuses Kiszla with a competent sportswriter, either.

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The best reason to buy a ticket to Coors Field is slugger Matt Holliday, and there is such consternation he has hired a dollar-driven agent that you wonder if ownership is so preoccupied with the bottom line that it can reach the top line of the NL West standings.

Any Rockies player that looks like a star will be gone as soon as they can be a free agent regardless of who there agent is. The Monforts simply will not pay to keep them. They are in it for the money, and they certainly aren't going to give it to the players, especially after seeing what Helton's salary has done to their bottom line. As for Holliday, he is a fairly good hitter and a mediocre fielder who can't seem to keep his head in the game, constantly making dumb mistakes that will probably keep his income down and end his career prematurely.l

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Jim Leyland could not last a year as manager of the Rockies. He does not look so stupid standing in the dugout of the first-place Detroit Tigers.

As the Baseball Observer has always said, Leyland was, by far, the best manager the Rockies have ever had. Kiszla, of course, did nothing but criticize him and claim he was washed up back then. How does that look now, when he is leading the Detroit Tigers to the best record in baseball? Leyland is the best of example of why these people, the Monforts, McGregor, O'Dowd and their co-conspirators have no business running a baseball team. When you pay several million to a sure Hall of Famer, respected by everyone in baseball, and then don't let him do what he does best because you think you know more, especially in the face of mountains of evidence to the contrary, you have a problem that probably can't be cured. Leyland's success is making Kiszla and everyone over at Coors Field sick, and we couldn't be happier.

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If, a year from today, Colorado again finds itself anywhere except in the heat of the pennant race, there will be no excusing the team's performance and no way to pardon Hurdle.

He probably will be gone soon enough, falling victim to the credibility gap between what owner Charlie Monfort naively believes is championship material and the reality of a roster loaded with too many wannabes.

There is no way to pardon Hurdle right now. If he were capable of coaching this team to the playoffs, he would do it, because nobody would ruin their career and jeopardize their future just to please a bunch of morons who have lost their grip on reality. Hurdle has been trying his best to get a victory and create some credibility for himself, but he can't do it. The big meltdown is coming, Hurdle will be gone once he loses it and starts flaming everyone in the organization to try to save what little reputation he has.

If Monfort believes he has talent, he's to dumb to breath without a tutor. The fact is, he knows exactly what they have, but thinks he can fool all of the rest of us into keeping the revenue flowing. Monfort and Hurdle couldn't win if they were given all of greatest players who ever lived at the prime of their careers. They just don't know how to do it, never have and never will.

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Fire Hurdle because Brad Hawpe cannot hit lefties or because starting pitcher Aaron Cook cannot figure out how to turn his righteous stuff into down-and-dirty wins? What, are you crazy?

Manager is far from the weakest position on this team.

Hurdle is better than anything the Rockies have at center field, shortstop, general manager or owner.

This is just crazy talk. Maybe Kiszla likes Hurdle, but there has never been any indication that he has any coaching or managerial talent whatsoever. If he had the right hitting coach, Hawpe could hit lefties. If he had the right pitching coach, Cook would probably win more games. Manager is the weakest position on this team, without a doubt. Those other guys show they can play their positions every day, but who can tell if Clint even shows up?

If Hurdle is the best thing they have at those positions, it is much worse than anyone imagined.

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Staff writer Mark Kiszla can be reached at 303-954-1053 or mkiszla@denverpost.com.

But who would ever want to reach this guy? He doesn't know anything, but isn't afraid to display his ignorance. A deadly combination.

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Copyright 2006  The Baseball Observer. All rights reserved.
Revised: 02/18/13.