Despite having a lame excuse for a baseball team these days, Colorado has some solid voting laws, which made the choice of replacing Atlanta with Denver for the location of the July MLB All-Star Game an easy one.
But while calling the Rockies a borderline major-league team is less than controversial, the hate for Dinger — the team'w dinosaur mascot whom scientists hatched from an egg in the ’90s — is just unnecessary and needs to stop.
"I’m a Dinger fan. I think it’s an exciting tie-in to the historic nature of the dinosaur bones that were found near home plate. I think it’s a good mascot," Governor Jared Polis said during the April 6 press conference in which he and Mayor Michael Hancock celebrated the All-Star Game coming to Denver. "Those who are Dinger naysayers out there, look around at all the other mascots. I used to go to Nationals games when I was in D.C., and watching those three crazy presidents' heads run around is pretty silly. Every game, Jefferson, Washington and — I can’t even remember the third — they have some race, and they can barely balance with their huge heads. I’ll take a purple dinosaur any day over three presidents making fools out of themselves."
(As an astute Washington, D.C., sports fan subsequently pointed out on Twitter, the running of the president heads involves four, not three heads. Additionally, Coors Field features a race of dental items each game, which seems equally, if not more, absurd.)
Like Polis, Hancock, who served as Broncos mascot Huddle long before getting into politics, insists he is a Dinger fan.
Not so many other Denverites. In October 2007, then-Westword web editor Sean Cronin started petition requesting that the Colorado Rockies kill Dinger the dinosaur, albeit "just the character, not the hard-working actor who has to dress up in that thing for every home game, elementary school performance and nursing home appearance."
The petition went nowhere, and in June 2019, Curt from Castle Rock wrote a letter to the Denver Post suggesting, "Please, Rockies, if you ever want to be taken seriously, get Barney off the TV!"
The hate for Dinger could stem from the fact that Denver and Colorado sports fans have been spoiled by Rocky, the insanely acrobatic mountain lion mascot for the Nuggets. Rocky makes all other mascots look tame.
Dinger didn't choose his body shape or athletic ability, of course; the dinosaur gods made that decision for him. And, yeah, Barney — arguably in his heyday in the mid-’90s — might have had something to do with it.
Perhaps the biggest knock on Dinger is that he's usually only half-dressed. On that fateful April day in 1994 when he came out of the mysterious egg found at the Coors Field construction site, the dino was wearing a hat and nothing else. He now wears a Rockies jersey and sneakers, but often no pants.
Digging beneath the surface, though, it seems the real reason that Rockies fans rip on Dinger is because the team just hasn't been that good during its few decades of existence.
"It’s basically like a scapegoat thing," concludes Ben Cary, a Colorado-based sports-betting guru who runs the betting advice website CapWize.
Don't bet on Denver getting an all-star mascot before the All-Star Game, though. That hope is as dead as a dinosaur.