Jim Crane? The Astros Need a Bill Veeck
It's a depressing time to be a fan of the Houston Astros. The team's bad. The starting pitchers have trouble getting through the first inning. The games aren't currently available to most of the viewing public (yesterday's free CSN Houston offering notwithstanding). The new radio team actually makes listeners miss Milo Hamilton.
Well, maybe not all of Veeck's ideas
But it would be possible to deal with all of that, probably, if it felt as if the Astros actually cared about the fans. Not the players, not the coaches or front office, but the owner and the business folks. There's the brand-new expanded dynamic pricing, which, for some games, is actually more premium pricing than it is dynamic pricing. There's owner Jim Crane telling fans to shut up about the team unless they have a $10 million check to give him.
The thing about the Crane ownership is that one just kind of gets the feeling that Crane couldn't care less if fans attend the games. It seems to be more about showing off his toy for his friends and using his toy to curry political favors with those who, while not better than him, might have a bit more power than him, e.g., playing golf with the President.
Then there's the comparison to owners past, past Astros owners and past MLB owners. For instance, there's former MLB owner Bill Veeck. Veeck's primarily remembered now for some of his wacky stunts, such as sending a midget to bat during a game, the exploding scoreboard after home runs, players wearing shorts, and for allowing his son to stage the infamous Disco Demolition Night.
Veeck owned three major league teams, the Cleveland Indians, the St. Louis Browns (right before they became the Baltimore Orioles) and twice the Chicago White Sox. For all the perceived wackiness of his stunts, he was a strong baseball mind who built numerous teams on a shoestring budget and saw two of them make the World Series, the 1948 Indians and the 1959 White Sox. But reading about Veeck, reading things said by Veeck, one is really stricken by one thing: Veeck loved baseball, and he loved baseball fans perhaps more than any owner before or since.