There is nothing like some good realignment talk to deflect attention from two teams you really wish had not made it to the World Series.
"I want a hamburger, no a cheeseburger, I want a hot dog, I want a milkshake...."
"You'll get nothing and like it!" - Caddyshack
The big news last Wednesday was Peter Gammons reporting that the Astros ownership switch is expected to go through mid-November, with a move to the American League, presumably in 2013. Jim Crane had met with Commissioner Bud Selig to discuss some things.
"Late last week, I had a constructive, one-on-one meeting with the Commissioner of Major League Baseball, Bud Selig. It was a very constructive meeting, positive in all respects, and our transaction continues to move forward."
I make no qualms about following the zeitgeist when it comes to reporting on the Houston Astros. But I demarcate clearly between fact and my opinion. If the Astros move to the AL, then Jim Crane will get ownership in return and Drayton McLane will get his big-fat payoff. But what do Astros fans get? Throw us a bone here Selig.
Right now, I'm struggling to find the energy to be angry at the entire situation. I know Andy from the Houston Counterplot has been getting angry, specifically on Twitter. I applaud enthusiasm on either sides. I applaud people who say they don't mind the switch, even if I disagree with it. I applaud Timmy for saying things that might not make him the most popular Astros writer. Frankly I think moving the Astros to the American League will set them even further into the wilderness, as even well-run teams in the American League can struggle on the margins.
Personally I enjoy National League baseball, the teams in it, and I dislike the idea of change, but I can't muster myself for the fight, because I see it as hopeless. If Crane and Selig agree to switch the Astros to the AL, 500 signatures on a petition is not going to change it, valiant as those efforts might be.
There is not any real straightforward reason why the Astros should switch leagues other than the rest of the teams in MLB are quite keen on the idea as a way of balancing the leagues.
One reason it has been made so easy is this team is an absolute mess and so is its front office. Somewhere along the line this franchise has lost its whole identity, piping out "Sweet Caroline" during the home series with the Boston Red Sox, putting on naff promotions, generally allowing other fanbases to take over the ballpark, and not even bothering to comment when one of their players gets arrested for a felony (way to go there "Ralph" Schafer).
Right now I'm trying to think of ways to turn any possible realignment to the Astros advantage. First off the bat, it would ensure that Jim Crane starts his ownership as a hated man by a proportion of the fanbase. If he can wangle some compensation for the franchise then he may mitigate that. What he should do is try and cultivate a siege mentality for his newly-purchased franchise. "Selig made me do it, all the teams hate us, lets hate them back."
The thing that makes me feel hopeful for the future is that there seems to be an undercurrent of anger, and to some extent bitterness to a lot of what I'm reading. In the end that resentment might nourish fan support of the Houston Astros in the future rather than causing people to switch off, or even worse, become Rangers fans (surely a fate worse than death). But when you are staring at the worst team in franchise history, how is this move not going to hurt the franchise? Where is the long list, or even a list of reasons that has been produced to support this move, apart from the wild notion that there is some sort of rivalry between the Astros and Rangers?
I will be devastated if the move goes ahead, but I'm enough of a fan to give it a chance. After that who knows. Winning may clear the franchise of all ills, but I'll still shake my fist in anger at the Baseball Gods before we go, just so they feel my disapproval. Some people view the sport as a kind of quasi-religion, and if you view baseball that way, I don't judge people for losing their belief in this team, when one of the most fundamental tenets of its existence is about to disappear.
By way of conclusion, I leave you with a hundred words that sums up the position better than I ever could:
All of the events happening at once seems to compound the sense of angst or dismay among Astros fans.
The Astros' farm system is bad and we already have to wait to become competitive; the Astros just had the worst season in their history; the Astros' franchise is sold at a price that makes you wonder if the new ownership group will have enough remaining resources to rebuild well; and the Astros' payroll declines and the Astros trade away their good players as a result.
Adding the move to the AL on top of all of that seems like adding insult to injury, particularly since it probably further lengthens the time that is required for the Astros to become competitive.