Houston Astros: Just Stop It

September 23, 2008 | Comments (0) | by Rich Funk

I try to be an objective person. I always attempt to look at a situation and put all bias aside.

When someone presents me with a new vegetable dish, I will try it despite the fact that for the first 24 years of my life, vegetables and I were mortal enemies. Much like Cuba and the United States, things have cooled off in the past few years, but to this day if I find myself alone on an elevator with a tomato, I will automatically assume an attempt is about to be made on my life.

When I hear a new song by 50 Cent on the radio, I try not to change it immediately just because I don't care for rap as a whole. I'll always give it at least 4 seconds of my time before judging it and then standing by that judgement for the rest of my life. I am a man of strong principles after all.

Those are just two recent examples. I also listen to both democrats and republicans even though I don't believe you should vote until you own land, I donate money to charities even though I don't believe in the concept of currency, and I still listen to Thriller even though I'm pretty sure that Michael Jackson is something parents made up to scare their children into behaving.

So when the Houston Astros started complaining about having to recently play 2 "home" games against the Cubs at Miller Park, I didn't immediately fire off hate-mail to everyone in their organization or slash any tires. I was mad, but I thought it was because they were the Astros, a division rival, and I've hated them for the last 167 years. Yes, I wasn't alive that long ago and yes, they weren't even a team in the year 1841. I am aware of both these facts. But who's asking the questions here? Also, let's not forget, let's not forget, Dude, that keeping wildlife, an amphibious rodent, for uh, domestic, you know, within the city...that aint legal either.

Moving on.

Today, ESPN ran a story about how the Astros continue to be butthurt about the entire thing. Lance Berkman and the rest of the Astros organization blame Bud Selig, saying that the Cubs and Astros could have made up their games at the end of the season before the playoffs started. Berkman took a few shots at the Commish and MLB itself, saying "Major League Baseball has always valued the dollar more than they do the individual, the players and their families." Reliever and relative no-name Doug Brocail chimed in with "The thing is we had days at the end of the season that we could have played a single game plus a doubleheader if need be. And to make us go up and play at North Wrigley like we had to on no sleep, it was absolutely ridiculous. If it was New York or Boston, it would have been played at the end of the season. I truly believe that, and I think 99.9 percent of our teammates believe that. But no, we’re the Houston Astros."

The 0.01% that doesn't believe is rumored to be the Astros dignity, which seems to have gone AWOL over the last week.

Let's play a little game. I call it "What The Astros Believe".

What The Astros Believe: Greed is alive and well in MLB, which is why Bud Selig scheduled the games in his own backyard, in a stadium where the team he used to partially own plays.

The Truf: Yes, greed is alive and well in baseball, but Berkman is looking at the wrong wrinkly old man. The greedy one here is Drayton McClane, the Astros owner. About a week before Hurricane Ike hit Houston, Selig contacted McLane and said that the series between the Astros and Cubs may have to be moved to another location. Tampa Bay and Pittsburgh were given as potential places. Hell, they could have moved to Arlington and played there while the Rangers were in Oakland!

McLane, who I assume looks like the Monopoly Guy, said no. He thought that the Astros and Cubs would be able to get all three games in that weekend. His proposed solution? Have the Cubs fly in extra early on Friday (into the hurricane) and play real early before the hurricane got to Houston, and play a doubleheader on Sunday. Obviously, McLane thought that even after one of the worst hurricanes in history, his ballpark would be ready to play on the very next day.

What McLane didn't say, but showed in his actions, was "I'm not moving the games from Houston to anywhere else. If I do, I'll have to refund the ticket money for 3 sellout games and I'd much rather have the cash and risk the health and safety of the actual players on both teams."

What The Astros Believe: Playing 2 games in Milwaukee is like giving the Cubs 2 home games. It's totally unfair, dude!

The Truf: Yeah, games in Milwaukee are basically home games for the Cubs, but again, the 'Stros should look to their own owner. When the days went by and the hurricane got closer and closer, Bud Selig knew they had to get at least 2 games in because of the scheduling. McLane still didn't budge, insisting the games would still be able to played in Houston. When Friday came and McLane was still being a prick, Selig had to find a place that had both Sunday and Monday open, and had a roof. That left Milwaukee, Minnesota, Toronto and Seattle. Seattle was too far for both teams to travel. Same with Toronto (plus, hangups at the border would have slowed things down). Minnesota had football going on. So the only choice was Milwaukee.

What The Astros Believe: The 3 games could have been played after the last day of the season and before the playoffs start.

The Truf: There are 2 days between the end of the regular season and the start of the NL playoffs, so technically this was an option. And of course the Astros would suggest it. Knowing that the Cubs were going to win the NL Central, the Astros would love nothing more than to play their way into the Wild Card by facing the scrub players on the Cubs for 3 games, knowing all of their starters would be getting those days off.

The other problem with this scenario, Mr. Brocail? What happens in the event of a tie? With the Brewers, Mets and Phillies fighting for 2 playoff spots, there's already a chance there may be a tie for the Wild Card or for the NL East. Throw the Astros in there, and it's a pretty sure thing that there's going to be at least one tie.

What happens if the last day of the season is over, and the Astros are 1 game out of the Wild Card. Say they split a doubleheader with the Cubs on the 29th and then win their game on the 30th, tying for the Wild Card. Then what? Do the Astros get on a plane and fly to New York and play a game that night for the Wild Card spot? That's much easier than playing a few games in Milwaukee! Never mind the fact that leaving those 3 games for the end of the season would prevent road teams from traveling to whatever city they need to go to for their first round games until the Astros played their games.

Sorry Doug, but MLB needs those two days off. Last year they needed it for the Rockies/Padres playoff game to decide the Wild Card winner. What happens if the Brewers, Phillies and Mets all end the season with the same record? It could happen. Monday would be needed to have the Mets and Phils play for the NL East crown. The loser would have to play the Brewers on Tuesday for the Wild Card. None of that could happen if the Cubs and Astros had to play 3 games on the 29th and 30th. But thanks for taking the time to think it through before opening up your goddamn mouth.

What The Astros Believe: This never would have happened to the Red Sox and Yankees.

The Truf: No shit. The Red Sox are good enough to be in the playoffs already. And the Yankees have had the decency to get themselves eliminated by now.

Look, what happened to the city of Houston was terrible. I felt bad for the Astros because they had to go on the road and play baseball when they were probably tired and worried about their homes and city. But have the decency and spine to not complain about it. If Berkman and Co. would have come out and said "Look, wherever the games were played, we didn't win them and that's all that matters" then I would have all the respect in the world for them. If the Astros were really a playoff team, they would have found a way to win those games, regardless of their opponent or location. That's what winners do. They don't make excuses and they play hard, whether it be in Houston, Milwaukee or on the freakin' moon.

Guess what, Astros? You guys got 1 hit over 2 games. Zambrano and Lilly owned you so completely that you wouldn't have had a chance even if you played in Houston and were allowed to use aluminum bats.

Your city got wrecked by a terrible force of nature and all you can think about is how you may have gotten screwed out of 2 games where you could only come up with 1 measly hit?

You lost. Get over it.