When businessman Jim Crane purchased the Houston Astros from former owner Drayton McLane, I was cautiously optimistic about the future of the franchise.
I am quickly losing my optimism.
Crane’s $680 million purchase became official late in 2011, and it didn’t take very long for Astros fans to see Crane’s desire to completely change their opinion of the franchise.
As far as ticket prices go, the notable changes were at the Outfield Deck and Club levels.
In 2011, Outfield Deck tickets went for $7 apiece for adults, a price which will drop to $5 in 2012.
A Club level seat during last year’s 106 loss season went for $46. In the first year of the Crane era, these prices will drop to $31, with a $15 food voucher to go along with your ticket purchase.
Should you not be interested in purchasing food inside of Minute Maid Park, you will now have the opportunity to bring in your own food and drinks, while you enjoy your Astros playing ball.
But what fan brings food and buys seats to stare at an empty field? I’ve compiled a list of what I consider to be the top three reasons Crane has hurt his reputation with the fans. The list could go on forever, but I’ll keep it as short and sweet as a good player’s tenure on an Astros roster, before he’s traded to the Phillies.
1. Moving to the AL is a terrible idea.
I know that the move was virtually required for the approval of the sale to go through, but that move should have been fought much harder than it actually was.
Crane should have argued the various points on why this move would be bad for the team. For one, how do the Astros expect to find an extra slugger for the DH position when none of our current players can hit as it is? Secondly, an already uncompetitive team will now be moving from what many believe is the weakest division in baseball (And that was with Fielder and Pujols) to a division which the Angels and Rangers should dominate for the foreseeable future. Who wants to switch leagues just to watch the team continue losing?
If the younger audience hopes to watch them lose come 2013, it better be a game played in Texas. Away games will generally be starting at around nine o'clock, thanks to the time zone difference between Houston and the West Coast teams, such as the A’s and Angels. I grew up watching Astros games as a child, and now children will be lucky to sneak half-an-inning in before bedtime.
2. It’s a competitive sport, not a beauty contest.
Personally, I believe it was a PR move for Crane to say that the Astros were considering a name change, as well as changing the logo and uniforms. ‘Stros fans came out in full force, saying that our name should remain the same as it has for the last 45+ years (logo and uniform has yet to be decided).
What would a name change, actually change? Would the incumbents of the AL West spend the first few weeks of 2013 wondering what team they were beating? How about we change our name to the Honey Badgers in honor of the popular YouTube video? Obviously, like the Honey Badger, our owner doesn’t give a.. Well, you know..
When did Crane mix up being competitive with being easy on the eyes? I was under the impression that he bought a team from Major League Baseball, not the Lingerie Football League. There is nothing wrong with our team colors, there is nothing wrong with our logo (I have it tattooed on my arm, please don’t change it Jimbo) and there is nothing wrong with our team name.
With that being said, it’s time to tie everything together with the main reason Crane is crushing my optimism as a fan.
3. Yet to show true interest in building a championship caliber roster.
Has there ever been a team of no name athletes that held up a championship trophy at the end of their respective season? Sure, there are the teams no one expected to be competitive that set the league on fire, as well as no name rookies that begin building a legacy from their very first at-bat.
But can a true MLB fan say they followed the sport all year, and still couldn’t name at least a few players from the Cardinals roster? With Pujols, Berkman, Holliday, etc. on the team, you can’t honestly say they didn’t have the talent to, at the very least, be competitive.
Who do the Astros have that you could honestly see on an All-Star roster? Go ahead, I’ll wait.
Crane appears to have no interest in putting together a team that is competitive, at least at this point. Jed Lowrie is a great guy and all, but he isn’t going to bring a championship (home?) to Houston. Livan Hernandez won’t be called up from the minors from his new deal with the Astros to earn a Cy Young.
If anyone were competitive on our roster, they would probably be shipped off to Philadelphia anyways.
Don’t consider this an article bashing the Houston Astros; it’s far from it. I’ve been to more games at the Dome and Minute Maid Park than I can begin to count. I started an Astros website in junior high, and had a few thousand visitors reading about the team on a daily basis (not bad for a seventh grader).
Consider it my list of issues that I hope are addressed and corrected by Mr. Crane. I’ve been an Astros fan since my first game at the Astrodome, and my kid will be a fan from the second I can get him into Minute Maid Park, even if that means carrying him there from the hospital.
Hopefully, Crane can get it right by then. Hopefully, he can get it right sooner than my first child is born. These 106 loss seasons take a lot out of the fans, the players, and everyone involved.
If I can’t see my team playing in late October, all I can ask of Crane and the front office is that they at least start making the moves to get us there sooner rather than later. It’s too early to ask for a ring or trophy, but I’d at least settle to have my optimism back.