Astros Fans Outraged

Outrage is not too strong a word to describe the reaction of Astros fans to the team’s realignment into the American League West.  It’s a typical reaction: “Why me.”

Indeed, why Houston?  Baseball in this city started with the Houston Buffs, a Cardinals farm team.  The Buffs were replaced by the Colt 45’s in 1962 and the 45’s became the Astros in 1965.  The connection goes back as least as far as 1940.  Many fans remember that the Brewers used to be in the American League and wonder why they don’t go back to the A. L.

The reason is simple.  They refuse.  So do all the other teams in the N. L. Central.  As a matter of fact, no N. L. owner would agree to move.  And, if you polled the A. L. owners about moving to the N. L. most, if not all of them, would jump at the chance.  As with most controversial subjects in and out of baseball, all you have to do is follow the money trail.   A good DH is far more expensive than a utility infielder or outfielder.

Beyond that,  many good fans prefer the National League game.  The decision about whether to pinch hit for the pitcher or not creates excruciating managerial decisions.  And, the managers like that.  It’s like chess versus checkers.  I have asked virtually every manager who has managed in both leagues about it.  To a man, Joe Torre, Lou Pinella,  Bobby Valentine, Tony LaRussa, Jimmy Leyland, Bobby Cox and Buck Rodgers, prefer the old-fashioned version of the game.

However, you don’t always get what you want.  Each of them served time in the A. L. because there was no choice.  They took Hobson’s Choice, just like Jim Crane, the new Astros owner.  So, my advice to Astros fans is, “get over it.”  The commissioner couldn’t force an owner to move, but he could withhold approval from a prospective owner.  I know background checks and equity positions were part of it.  But my instinct tells me that it didn’t take six months to get the deal done because of those considerations.  I think it was about money.  And the final deal pretty much confirms that.  Crane wouldn’t agree to move without compensation, which he got.  Instead of paying 680 million for the team he ended up paying 610 million.

The price reduction addressed two issues.  First, starting in 2013, the team will play all west coast night games at 9 or 9:30 Central Time.  These games will not make anywhere near the revenue that prime time games generate.  And that’s another reason the fans are upset.  Most of them have to go to work in the morning.  They can’t stay up half the night to watch the game.  The second consideration is the price of a good DH.

I’m not wild about the American League relocation either.  But I have already gotten over it.  I will still see the greatest players on the planet do all the things they do so well.  It’s not like accepting the replacement players that the owners took to spring training in 1995 to try to scare the real players into capitulating in the negotiations for a new Basic Agreement.  That would have been hard to accept.

But what is hard for me to understand is the reasons for the move.  MLB wants to add another Wild Card team.  So, is that impossible with six teams in the N. L. Central and only four in the A. L. West?  Do you have to have five teams in each division for competitive balance?  I think not.  Competitive balance has a lot more to do with the quality of the teams in a division, than the quantity.  When I was playing for the Astros, we were in the N. L. West.  We had the late start times on the West Coast, so it’s not like we haven’t been there before.  But we also had the Dodgers and Reds in our division, which was like being the Blue Jays in the A. L. East now.  They could probably contend in the other two divisions in the A. L. but not in the East.  There were several years when I thought we could have won the N. L. East back in the early seventies.  But what could we do but get over it.

All of us have moments in our lives when we feel like we are being treated unfairly, but can’t do anything about it.  We grouse and complain, and then we move on.   That is our only choice now.  If you want to hold on to bitterness and anger, be my guest.  My advice would be to let it go and go on with your life.  This move isn’t going to kill anybody.  And if it turns out to be a mistake, it can be corrected.

I think the biggest mistake is having 30 teams to begin with.  the number makes scheduling clumsy and in 2013 we will have interleague games spread throughout the season.  Interleague play has been popular and attendance numbers prove it.  But interleague games have been played in May and June, when it is a pleasant diversion.  The second half of the season has been comprised of intraleague play, which is the best format for a pennant race.  I don’t think the fans will support interleague play as well when it occurs throughout the year.  If I’m right, it will affect revenue, and the money trail will not lead to the desired destination.

Neither fans nor owners are going to like it when the races come down the stretch and their opponents are playing a weak team from the other league, while their team is facing stiffer competition.  If I’m right, there will either be another expansion of two teams, getting the numbers to 16 teams in each league, which would make scheduling much easier.  Or their will be a modification of the interleague schedule.  Either way, it would require another adjustment.

If you don’t like the weather in Houston, someone will tell you, “Stick around, it’ll change.”    I would tell Astros fans the same thing.


  1. Pingback: Houston Astros leaving National League « 2r2d
  2. John Rowell

    Larry, I love you, but you’re wrong. Bud Selig is a scoundrel, and he owes the Astros fans an apology. What he did is wrong and the way he did it is wrong, and you damn well know it. If balancing the leagues is so important, he could have waited until expansion. If moving the Brewers to the NL back in 1998 was a mistake, then it’s Bud’s responsibility to un-do the mistake. In 2004 he could have forced his FRIENDS that bought the Brewers to make the move back to the AL. Most of them were from his ownership group anyway. It’s not like he had no pull. Why should the Astros fans have to fix his own screw-up?

    I will not “get over it.” I can’t. I am a true fan. You’re talking about a generation of fans that are still crying with Cheo over the ’80 playoffs. A generation of fans that are still pee-ohed about trading Morgan to Cincy. A generation of fans that still sit around and wonder what would’ve happened if Dierker hadn’t been so overused in the 60’s. It sure would have been nice to watch you in 1980. I could go on and on. You know as well as I do that it took a long time to develop true-down-to-their core baseball fans in Houston. Bud Selig just pissed on all that. I will curse his name until the day I die, and I will teach my children to do the same. You tell Bud for me that he’s not welcome in my home. In Texas there is no greater insult.

  3. Ted Giraud, Sr.

    Et tu Dierker, Et tu?

    You were one of my childhood heroes. I remember listening to your first game as an Astro on my transistor radio. I remember getting my butt whipped hundreds of times for listening to the game instead of going to sleep on a school night. And it was worth it!

    Now, my childhood Hero sides with MLB/Selig/Crane and tells me to “get over it.” To hell with the memories and to hell with the fans. Nice going Jierk! I guess we should just call you Mr. Company Man, huh? Oh well, I guess if you eat at the company trough you gotta eat whats served. I have a better idea. Why don’t you, Mr. Crane and Mr. Selig get together and enjoy the “new” ALstros? I have a feeling that you will be just about the only ones there. As for me, me and my money are done with the lot of you!

    Thanks again, EX hero! As John Wayne once said, “Don’t piss down my back and tell me its raining!”

  4. Mike

    Since you think that an expansion is in the future, let Crane move his team. It seems like this was the plan anyhow. There is no way the team won’t lose 100+ games in 2012 and there won’t be many fans in the seats either. So Crane moves…bye bye. Bring on the new NL expansion team. There is no way baseball won’t field a team in Houston.

  5. Kip Crenshaw

    I would like to say that the new regime of the Astros isn’t exactly off to a blazing start. I just don’t get it. I am a 51-year old man who was born and raised in the city of Houston and have been an avid fan of the team my entire life. Why, in a city of 4 million people, can we not put a competitive baseball team on the field? We live in an area of the country where the economy is as good or better than it is anywhere else. You could probably drive any direction within an 8 hour distance from downtown Houston and find 25 great baseball players to fill out a roster and be competitive. It has been proven over and over again that this city will pack our wonderful ball park if ownership puts a team on the field that at least has a chance to win. Changing the name of the team? Are you kidding me? People bringing their own food into the games? Come on!! It is time to start spending the resources on getting ball players on the field. Mr. Crane, you don’t need marketing gimmicks to pack the stadium and be a sucessful franchise. It starts with the product on the field and that is where the improvements need to be made.

    Oh, and Mr. Postolos, signing 31-year old journeymen who hit .213 last year is not exactly the direction the team needs to go. I thought we were trying to get young and take our lumps for a few years until these players get the experience necessary to become competitive.

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