Batter's Box Interactive Magazine Batter's Box Interactive Magazine Batter's Box Interactive Magazine
The bloom is off the rose.

Fans once packed Mile High Stadium and Coors Field regardless of how well the Rockies played, but too many years of mediocrity have driven them away. Attendance has fallen for an astonishing seven consecutive seasons, and season tickets sales have fallen from 34,000 to 16,000 in five short years. With the Broncos, Avalanche and even the usually awful Nuggets offering competitive products, the Rockies find themselves at the bottom of the local sports heap in terms of quality and buzz.

GM Dan O’Dowd and company certainly didn’t create any buzz this winter. Still burdened by the catastrophic signings of Mike Hampton and Denny Neagle as well as other contracts granted before the “market correction” 2002-2003, Colorado will pay $51 million to just five players (Helton, Wilson, Johnson, Neagle, Walker) this season and roughly the same amount next season. Colorado didn’t sign any marquee free agents this winter and probably won’t until after 2005 when the contracts of all but Todd Helton disappear. Jeromy Burnitz and familiar face Vinny Castilla top the list of free agents signed to help the team tread water while prospects develop.
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With 98 losses in 2003, the Padres have bottomed out and are ready to start rising to the top of the NL West.
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Barry, Brian, and a waterfront ballpark: a winning trio -- but for how long?

On December 8, 1992, Toronto traded Kelly Gruber to the California Angels for Luis Sojo. That same day, the Blue Jays also signed Danny Cox and Dave Stewart, the Tigers granted Jamie Moyer free agency, the Yankees nabbed Steve Howe, and the A's picked up Storm Davis. In other news, the San Francisco Giants signed Barry Bonds to a six-year, $43.75 million deal, making Bonds the game's highest-paid player. With new skipper Dusty Baker writing "Bonds, LF" onto the lineup card every day, the Giants soared, going from 72 wins in 1992 to 103 in 1993 -- which sounds impressive until you place it next to these unpleasant facts: there was no Wild Card yet, and the Braves, in the NL West then, won 104 games. Yes, Virginia, there is life, and it sucks.
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