Nobody outside the network knows why studio personality Tom Helmer's contract with Root Sports Rocky Mountain was not renewed.
Helmer certainly doesn't understand it. Viewers don't, either.
He was enormously poular with fans and, by all accounts, did a fabulous job of engaging the Rockies faithful both before and after games.
Win or lose, folks flocked to the broadcast desk after games to watch Helmer get riled up. He made broadcasts fun for the people at the park and for those watching at home.
Root decided to make a change (for one reason or another) and they hired former CU Buff, NFL prospect and minor league baseballer Joel Klatt to handle pre and post game duties in Helmer's stead. Maybe it was a financial decision (Klatt came cheap) or maybe Helmer said something about the team that caused Rockies brass to lean on Root to replace him. Either way, the switch was made.
Klatt has not proven to be as personable or as popular as his predecessor. In fact, he has fallen flat with many Rockies fans.
It's not that Klatt's not likable.
He's a local fellow with a proud history in the pantheon of Denver Sports. He's handsome and athletic. He has a nice smile. He's a dedicated family man who loves his wife and son.
Joel Klatt works hard - often appearing on his morning radio show (Evans and Klatt on 104.3 the Fan) only a few hours after finishing a TV broadcast. Klatt's a professional who brings plenty of experience and talent to the table.
Klatt's single biggest flaw is simply not being Tom Helmer.
Not being Helmer not only means that Klatt has big shoes to fill. It also means that fans are going to be looking for reasons not to embrace him. Fair or not, Klatt is a marked man. As such every one of Klatt's flaws and flubs is magnified. He's in a bit of an impossible position.
Lat night, after Car-Go nailed his fourth home run in as many at bats, tying a major league record, Klatt posted a regrettable comment on Twitter in which he referred to the fans at Coors Field as "clueless" for not prompting a Car-Go curtain call:
"CarGo is straight sick right now!! Why wouldn't the fans stay loud for a curtain call?
Klatt was right. The folks at Coors Field probably should have kept their applause rolling for their power hitter. After all, Car-Go had accomplished a rare feat. But he never should have used the word "clueless".
Klatt is simply in no position to ruffle people's feathers. He cannot afford to forget who he replaced. He is yet to earn the kind of clout among fans that a broadcaster must wield if he is to get away with being critical of them in any way. Folks are unamused. These are a small handful of comments about him on Twitter this morning:
Really? Joel Klatt called
#Rockies fans clueless? He does realize that we hate him already, right?
Literally minutes after I thought that I should give Joel Klatt another chance, he proved to be a pompous jerk once again.
Jim Tracy make that lineup too? RT
@fiyahpowah: oh god, Joel Klatt AND Jeff Huson doing the post-game show? HELL NO
Why the hell is JOEL KLATT doing a Rockies postgame?
#CUSucks. He's a quarterback anyway.
Other comments are more supportive of Joel:
Joel Klatt is the most hated man ever and I have no clue why. Still have yet to hear a good reason.
Until people in this town get off Tom Helmer's nuts,
@joelklatt will never get a fair shake. Ppl just look for reasons to whine.
Hey I agree with
@joelklatt that there's too many fans not paying attention, not enough cheers for 2 strikes a great performance.
Whether it's fair or not, broadcasters are often hired and fired based on a statistic known as a "Q rating". It's a measure of their popularity and the emotional response they evoke. A company like Root Sports bases evaluations of their talent partially on this measure - which is calculated by independent firms whose sole job it is to monitor such things.
Klatt has a sweet gig - and there's little doubt that he would prefer to be back with Root Sports next year. If he runs afoul with Rockies fans that is not likely to happen.
Personally, I like Joel Klatt. He's nice. He has engaged me - and dozens of other fans - directly via Twitter and has shown his humility.
As much as I miss Tom Helmer, I wish Joel Klatt the very best in his new role as studio analyst with Root. I would caution him to be very, very careful with Twitter. Should he be involved in social media? Absolutely. It's virtually a requirement for somebody in his position that he put himself out there.
Klatt needs to give fans a chance to get to know him better before he takes a casual approach to communicating. He's not our buddy yet. He's still a stranger. As time goes by, and Joel establishes familiarity, he will be able to loosen up some. In the meanwhile, he must focus on letting people get to know him while never, ever being critical.
Tell stories, Joel. Tell jokes. Tweet pictures of your family, your son. Smile and try not to look so nervous. Relax. You were dealt a tough hand by replacing Tom Helmer. You're not him and you can only be yourself. And we still don't know who you are.