Well, This Hasn't Gone Well

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Hey Jim Crane, your team sucks. I don't know what else to say.

What's the opposite of the midus touch?

How snake bit can you be?

If the Astros didn't have bad luck they wouldn't have luck at all.

Or, this team sucks. Six weeks in and I'm thankful that DirectTV is holding CSN Houston hostage. No I don't want my CSN Houston. The Astros are on there. The performance on the field hasn't been the only short coming of the organization. Nope, off the field the Astros have been inept as well.

Let's analyze some things shall we... 

CSN Houston

The money grab...er the local sports channel that covers the Astros, Rockets and Dynamo in a way Houston can be proud of is now available in roughly 40% of Houston homes.

Here's how bad it's gone, CSN Houston told its hold out carriers that it would let them have CSN Houston free until the end of May. No one bit. Not one. Suddenlink said it would take them up on it, but only for Suddenlink's Houston viewing area. The Astros balked. No thanks, folks in Arkansas are dying to see the Astros. No they aren't. There is no leverage.

Now George Postolos, the CEO and President of the team has given up and resigned. George of course may or may not have blocked a deal for distribution a few months back. Well he's out, now and the rumor is Nolan Ryan is coming in. Either way, quit running ads, doing airplane banner fly-by's, and stop asking the mayor and other "celebs" to lobby on your behalf. You wanted the providers to lay down for you because you saw what happened in LA and New York and now you want your piece of the pie. As big a piece as you can get.

This ain't LA or New York.  

The network has become an albatross weighing on the franchise. When 60% of the Astros fanbase can't see the team and the team is getting lit up 4 nights a week, you're losing ground in the PR battle.   

The Boss

Jim Crane bought the Astros. Well, Crane and a bunch of other guys, but he's the face. He promised with that TV deal we already don't have that the Astros would be one of the biggest spenders in baseball. Now his goal is to not lose any money this year.  That's noble. Doesn't he know he owns a professional sports franchise? You're supposed to lose money for crying out loud.  

Doesn't he know he owns a professional sports franchise? You're supposed to lose money for crying out loud.   

Breaking even apparently involves erecting giant billboard grids to cover whatever was left of the skyline view. Jim this is a public trust, fans liked Uncle Drayton because he brought us Sheriff Blaylock Nachos and seemed kind of out of it at times. Uncle Drayton spent, sometimes frivolously and often on Tampa Devil Rays trade bait, but he was Uncle Drayton - a Baylor grad no less. He was loveable and endearing. 

I credit Crane for returning the color scheme and Orbit to the franchise. It's a good look. But the rest has been puzzling.  

Crane came in and promptly flaunted his wallet, "I didn't make $100 million by making a lot of dumb mistakes." Uncle Drayton never did that. Crane has since invited fans to cut $10 million dollar checks if they want to make free agency signings. At least play along here Mr. Crane. I don't think Astros fans really get hung up on the dramatic drop in payroll or the idea of building a winner from the ground-up. Heck some folks would love to watch young players develop and grow in the organization. The problem arrives when ownership takes an adversarial approach with fans. No, I don't have $10 million lying around the house but I do enjoy hearing about our long term goals rather than just pleading poor.

We like efficient, not cheap. Efficient takes time. Looking cheap is easy. Like not purchasing enough baseballs for the College Classic at the Juice Box and then sending out security to retrieve each and every foul ball from the clutches of nine year olds. Also, let's drop the whole "the Astros have lost money for 5 years" bit. No one cares. You bought the team. You read the spread sheet.  

Also McClain never brought the kind of baggage Crain brought. Crain is infamous for his stance on hiring African American's at Eagle Global Logistics . He was also against hiring women of child bearing age. Just what we need in baseball I guess, fewer women and African-Americans. That's sarcasm kids. All in all Crane's companies have been called into Federal Court 130 times. Other Crane issues include an especially nasty divorce that may or may not have involved fisticuffs with Crane and one of his kids and, get this, war profiteering. Now that's something you don't hear everyday.

The Wives Gala

As I was writing this masterpiece another piece of news came down the pipe via that bastion of news Chron.com. The Astros have cancelled the Wives Galla, the event that spanned 23 years and raised four million for battered women's causes around the city. Jim Crane emailed the event organizer and informed her that the club would be taking over the gala. Two weeks later the Astros informed event organizers that they would not longer be holding the gala.  

Then to add insult to injury the Astros new Senior VP of Community Relations Meg Vaillancourt stated that the wives organization gave 50% of funds raised to benefactors. “As a best charitable practice, it is common to expect some 70 percent — or more whenever possible — of funds raised should go towards the charitable purpose people intended in supporting the event."

Good for you Meg. You just came over from Boston, where you held largely the same position. How did you do in Beantown? The Red Sox Foundation had $9.2 million in contributions in 2011 and distributed $4.4 million in grants. That’s 47.9%. Wait, what about that 70% best practices goal? You apparently suck at charity as well Meg. Glass houses.  

It may be a small thing, you know battered women and all, but it's another area where the Astros led by front man Jim Crane have screwed the pooch during this transition. A couple of Astros blogs have decided they've had enough, and the Wives Gala pushed them over the edge. The Crawfish Boxes and Astros County are going silent in protest of the Astros decision. "We’ve decided as a group that for today we will not be covering the Astros at all. When we do return to coverage, we may find ourselves with less writers. Call it a protest or whatever you want but several of our writers have expressed a disinterest in covering this team for the moment." 

I'm tempted to wait another day to post this. By that time Crane may have shot a bald eagle or bulldozed a homeless shelter. 

The Booth

The kids and I were driving home on Sunday and got our first taste of the new radio broadcast team. Robert Ford and Steve Sparks were on the call. If you thought Phillip Humber sucked, you should have heard this broadcast team. They weren't very good at broadcasting but they made up for it by lacking chemistry. I hate to say it but I longed for Milo. MILO!  

They weren't very good at broadcasting but they made up for it by lacking chemistry.  

To Sparks credit he attempted to have some fun with the ass kicking the Rangers were handing out. Ford however seemed allergic to both levity and momentum. It was painful.  

I'd critique the TV booth, but alas, I am a DirectTV subscriber and therefore relegated to listening to the radio. Stlll, they let Jim DeShaies walk in the offseason, so how good could it really be? Seriously, does anyone actually watch the CSN Broadcasts? I don't know anyone who has the option.

The Team

I'm willing to cut the 'Stros some slack in this area. This team needed an overhaul after years of major minor league neglect. Remember all those draft picks the Astros would make and then NOT sign? I do. Then all the guys they traded for guys like Aubrey Huff? Remember Tim Purpura and his direct line to Tampa? Or Ed Wade's open line to Philly?

Remember Tim Purpura and his direct line to Tampa? 

This is the bitter pill portion of the Astros story. Look to our neighbors to the north. Texas signed A-Roid to a huge deal, and gave smaller yet similarly debilitating deals to Vernon Wells and Kevin Milwood.  

Now the Rangers are letting high priced contract killers walk (see Josh Hamilton) and signing you talent for the long haul (see Elvis Andrus). They also have a farm system that is chock full of alleged major league talent.  

Houston is going to get there if they can maintain the patience and resolve to build long term. In other words if Crane doesn't do something dumb. It's a commitment that requires a long view of things but it's been shown to work.  

So we just have to survive a couple more seasons of gas cans out of the bullpen and K-Meters for a payoff.  

During a recent home stand the jumbo tron focused on a fan flipping the bird. Twice. A guy in behind home plate went to the old "hot dog wiener as penis" gag. It was all symptomatic of the bigger problem. The product on the field was supposed to be this bad, the product off the field however has been worse than anyone could have predicted.  

 

Posted on May 15, 2013 and filed under Sports.