Tonight: The End of an Astros Era (Last Chance to See National League, Old Uniforms, Bill Brown, Etc.)
There are only so many 100-loss campaigns even the most diehard fans can be expected to endure, after all. (In case you are keeping score at home, the Astros are 42 and a half games out of first place in the NL Central.)
But every season must come to an end, and the final home game of the 2012 year is tonight, against the St. Louis Cardinals.
The Astros are thanking their dedicated fans to the utmost of their ability, by giving out a) a team poster (complete with "Who are these guys?" index, we hope), b) a J.R. Richard bobblehead to the first 10,000 fans (Better get there early...in the fifth inning) and something called "Price Matters Days Presented By H-E-B," which means some cheap tickets and food.
In other words, meh.
To be sure, though, there are some reasons to head out to Minute Maid tonight. In many ways it will mark the end of an Astros era.
5. Goodbye to the National League
The closer this gets to reality, the more the suckiness of it all sinks in.
In order to bargain his way down to the cheapest sale price available, new Astros owner Jim Crane agreed to throw 50 years or more of Houston baseball tradition down the toilet and move the team to the American League.
A lot of people have been minimizing the move, saying interleague play and endless player movement have lessened the uniqueness of MLB's two leagues. But Houston has always, since its minor-league days, been an NL town. The rivalries -- and yeah, they're not rivalries that rank with Yanks-Sox or Bears-Packers -- are in the NL. The AL brings with it the designated hitter, as if the Astros needed yet another reason to hire out-of-shape over-the-hill players hanging on for one more paycheck.
The National League is where the hearts of Astro fans belong. After tonight, it will be no more.
4. The old uniforms
Crane, like many a new owner, is determined to put his stamp on things. That could mean hiring an exciting on-the-way-up manager to inject some life into the listless Astro corpse, or it could mean trying to cover up the cadaver stink by changing outfits.
So far, we're pretty sure Crane is going with Plan B.
The current Astro uniforms aren't bad -- they're better than some monstrosities of the past; they're not as good as some of the classics the team has seemingly stumbled onto by accident -- but change for the sake of change seldom results in greatness.
So we'll just hold our breath and see what they eventually unveil for the Great Inaugural AL Season. Until then, it's your last chance to see the current unis, until some throwback moneymaking day comes around.