Here comes the time of year where people say they will try to change one thing about themselves. Some people state that this is the year that they start exercising more, or to quit smoking, or to be better husbands/wives. This is not a complete list because many people have different things about themselves that they would like to change. Most people keep up with their resolution for a couple of weeks or so, but then some revert back to doing whatever they were trying to cut out. Why? Because making a change is hard.
In 2015, fans in Houston and its surrounding cities need to change one thing: it is time to start supporting the Astros again. The Astros have lost many fans over the past 4-5 years for three major reasons.
The first is that the Astros started trading veterans such as Roy Oswalt, Lance Berkman, Hunter Pence and all the other players over the 4-5 years. To most Astros fans, they understood the reasoning behind the moves of building a strong farm system that at the time was dead last. The major league team was getting older, and after years of trading top prospects for people who left via free agency, there was not much in the farm system to replace them, while other fans lost interest when their favorite player was traded.
Remember the days when Drayton McLane would walk around Minute Maid Park and ask Astros players what they are doing to become “champions?” Jeff Luhnow has preached about developing a farm system that will create waves of talent that will lead to constant success at the major league level. While the Astros never officially came out and said they were tanking for those seasons to get the top draft slot, but the roster provided to Brad Mills and Bo Porter ended up having the #1 pick in 2012, 2013, and 2014. Other fans became disinterested.
Throughout the “process”, the Astros Management has developed a reputation of penny pinching. With a new ownership group, Crane wanted to maintain the Astros with a certain budget each year. So Luhnow had to operate within that budget, and that is next to impossible to compete against the higher payroll teams. The Astros tried to allegedly save a little money by trying to sign Brady Aiken with a lower dollar amount because of a possible elbow issue. It backfired on them when they were not able to sign two other pitchers because of not signing Aiken.
So questions about the Astros leadership and direction turned away some fans.
The Move to the American League
Baseball purists don’t like the American league, because they feel that there is no strategy to the game if the pitcher doesn’t have to hit. Many fans jumped ship when Bud Selig and Jim Crane agreed as part of the Astros purchase to move the team to the American League West. Houston has always been a National League city! I have a friend named Dan who swore off the Astros for a while, but I think he has come back around. Like I said earlier, people do not like change. But as the great Sheryl Crow said, “a change will do you good!”
The Astros said bye to long-time division rivals Cardinals, Reds, Cubs, Brewers, and Pirates and said hello to new rivals Angels, Athletics, Rangers, and Mariners.
Insert the Astros into a strong division while they are the middle of rebuilding, some fans just stop following.
Out of Sight, Out of Mind
The CSN Houston controversy hurt the Astros more than I think it hurt the Houston Rockets for many reasons. The Rockets have been competitive for the time that their games were only televised to 40% of the Houston, while the Astros were in the midst of rebuilding process. The casual fan could not flip through channels and watch the Astros, and likely stopped caring about the Astros. Now that the Astros are on Root Sports, they can be seen on most cable providers.
Another way the CSN controversy hurt the Astros was that they were being perceived as the reason that a TV deal could not be reached, whether that is a true or false statement. Without baseball on TV or the Astros not being relevant, radio stations stopped dedicating time to talking about the Astros. After all, who cares that the Astros don’t have a third-baseman, the Texans don’t have a quarterback!
Not being able to watch the Astros turned some fans into Ranger fans because they were on TV! My father-in-law is one of those, but I’m trying to help him see the light.
More from Climbing Tal's Hill
- Just how much better is the Houston Astros playoff rotation than the rest?
- Houston Astros: A Lineup Change to Spark Offense
- Astros prospect Hunter Brown throws 6 shutout innings in debut
- Always faithful Astros World Series champion Josh Reddick defends the title
- Michael Conforto declines Astros’ 2-year, $30 million offer
In 2015, Astros fans should…
After years of having one of the worst records in baseball, the Astros are on the verge of being good again. Watch the games this season and get to know these players. There is this guy George Springer who is probably going to be real good. Get to know who is on first, second, shortstop, and all of the other positions, because one of them could be that player you tell your grandkids about. Jim Crane seems like he is done with losing, and he is ready to increase the budget. He is even willing to increase payroll for the right player, is Max Scherzer too much to ask for? Probably, but we can hope!
Get out to the ballpark more often! Minute Maid Park is down the street from the Toyota Center. Take your kids out to the old ball game and see Springer hit a dinger, catch a fly ball, or get an autograph. This is my New Year’s resolution is to make it out to more baseball games this year. I told my wife I need to go “cover” more games this year for Climbing Tal’s Hill, so I can write about the experience of going to the game with your son or family.
To the people out there like Dan, it’s time to get off your soap box and jump on the Astros bandwagon again. Yes, there are different rules, but I feel weird now when we play against National League and the pitcher has to bat. Plus, like I tell my students too often when they start complaining about something, it is not changing anytime soon! Instead of complaining, lets root for the home team and enjoy major league baseball.
The last year I owned a 27-game package was 2005, which allowed me to get into the World Series games. The excitement in the city at that time over the Astros was amazing. I remember waiting in a line that wrapped all the way through Academy in League City to get World Series gear. Within the next few years, I’m hoping my kids get old enough that I can justify getting a 27-game package again. When you are at the game, lets “support” the Astros! They are gonna be good sooner than you think!
Below is an article I wrote about Game 4 of the 2005 Division Series where my wife and I were told to “support” the Stros. I am now asking you to support your Stros in 2015 and beyond. Lets get back to being a baseball city again. See you at the ballpark, and Happy New Year!