It’s time we talk about tacos. I’ve wanted to dive into this subject matter for some time now, but seeing as Denver sports are finding success and championships often in the recent decade, it feels out of place to discuss anything in relation to the Rockies.
Rockies fans understand this. We are a reasonable fanbase. As people who endure blown leads and the constant threat of a hundred-loss season, star players leaving or being traded, a simmering hatred for an owner who cares more about the money going into his pocket versus the product on the field, the pride not felt from a team considered the runt of the MLB litter, the Rockies aren’t worthy of much conversation.
For those reading who are transplants to Colorado or don’t follow the Rockies too closely, the tacos deal is something worth celebrating even as the team dances on the foul line of going from bad to worse. You know of the Costco hot dog combo (a dog and a large drink for $1.50, the same one the owner of Costco would kill to protect) but what the Rockies have with Taco Bell is different, and its greatness is guarded by a questionable home advantage, poor ownership, and a refusal to put up enough money to compete.
When the Rockies get seven or more runs, regardless of how the game ends, whether or not they are at Coors Field, free tacos become available to all. You don’t need a ticket. You don’t need to wear the purple pinstripes. You just need to show up to a participating Taco Bell establishment the day after the seven-run or more game, between the hours of 4PM and 6PM, and get four tacos for $2.
This deal has changed over the years. The agreement the Rockies and Taco Bell have in place began in 2008. During its inception, the deal used to be four tacos for a dollar but was adjusted to require the purchase of a drink to gain access to the deal. My research can’t pinpoint the exact year the deal became inflated to $2, as all good things must end, but it’s before the 2014 season. And sure, perhaps you’re thinking this might not be a very profitable deal for Taco Bell, especially in baseball where the scores can balloon way beyond seven runs on any given night. Yet, this sounds like a statement from someone who hasn’t watched much Colorado Rockies baseball, where the offense is about as consistent as Colorado weather.
The last time the Rockies made the postseason was 2018. That year their record was 91-72, good enough for second place in the NL West. Now as far as the Rockies go, any season finished without 90 losses is an impressive feat, something genuinely worth hanging a banner up in memory of.
In 2018 the Rockies scored seven or more runs 35 times. Out of a grueling, 161 game MLB season, this comes out to 21.6%. Let me reiterate, this was a good year for the Rockies. We beat the Chicago Cubs in the WildCard game. This was the finale for CarGo. It seems like a year the tacos would be flowing endlessly in some sort of Hollywood-scripted sprint to the postseason, but instead, we were left with a meager twenty percent chance of getting tacos.
Jeff Aberle has a great article in Purple Row from 2014 that takes a deeper look at the statistical output of the tacos deal in relation to the Rockies Win/Loss record that can be found here.
I, as a man who favors letters over numbers, don’t have the effort to compile that kind of intricate data. I will, however, compile some data about the percentage of times tacos were achieved throughout the season and the subsequent times tacos would’ve been theoretically achieved for the opposing team.
I spent a majority of my afternoon compiling these data points, reminiscing on those years where the roster was loaded with generational-talent, when the postseason was a feasible dream, and the tacos seemed to flourish more than they ever had before.
The year after the Rockies last made the postseason, they secured their fans tacos 48 times, while allowing theoretical tacos for the opposing team 63 times. 38% of the entire 2019 season was spent giving make-believe tacos to fans of anyone but the Rockies.
Certainly there are many external factors—the altitude, the implementation and subsequent elimination of the shift, perhaps those rumored juiced baseballs as well—that contribute to runs scored and allowed, but it ultimately falls back down to the team, the management and ownership who probably don’t even subject their stomachs to what Taco Bell often gifts you. It’s a shame to see Coors Field empty at times. The hope for a win or even enough prowess to get close to tacos seems to dwindle by the day. Yet, the data also seems to prove an inverse correlation of tacos and a winning season.
Could the tacos be our Krpytonite?
Could the key to the Rockies long-awaited success be what fans love most?
Maybe it isn’t as much about getting cheap tacos as it is about the excitement of having a team striving to be competitive, with ownership not hellbent on keeping what they bought because regardless of the losing record at the end of the season, they’ll have made a profit. Rockies fans just want to have fun, enjoy the game, see some glimpse of a bright future and then watch a ninth-inning collapse. In my opinion, Taco Bell should restructure the deal and make ol’ Dick Monfort gift wrap tacos to the Taco Bells of opposing teams whenever they get seven or more runs. It sounds insane, and might fall under the label of cruel and unusual punishment, but it seems fair that if the chances of Rockies fans getting tacos are diminishing with each year, and until we are competitive again, there should be some sort of slap on the wrist for Monfort.
(This is all speculative. It’s fun to daydream of all the ways I could waste Monfort’s fortune.)
I love those damn tacos. They’re not great and they may not be great to you, but at least you have them. They’re a lot like the Rockies. Sometimes they appear, but more often than not you may not see them for a while. Yet, I hold out hope that we will see more tacos, more wins, something worthy of saying you’re a Rockies fan.