No, the Astros Haven't Killed Baseball in Houston
The Astros played an ugly game Monday night, losing 12-0 to the Tampa Bay Rays. The Astros have played a lot of ugly games this season. But this game was the final straw for Jesus Ortiz at the Houston Chronicle, and it caused him to wonder if the Astros are killing baseball in Houston.
Wait, people are still going to Astros games?
My initial thought was that no, games like that 12-0 loss aren't killing baseball in Houston. They're not killing baseball because as painful as the games are, Astros fans understand what's going on. That the team has to be destroyed for it to be saved. And most fans support this because unlike in Kansas City, the Astros front office appears to be competent.
It's also arguable that what's really killing baseball is CSN Houston, or rather the fact that almost no one in Houston or the entire state of Texas gets CSN Houston. And if one can't watch the Astros, it's kind of easy to forget that the Astros exist, especially when considering the Astros radio broadcast is nearly unlistenable. But that's not killing baseball in Houston. It's killing the Astros in Houston, but it's not killing baseball in Houston.
Attendance may be falling at Minute Maid Park. Media coverage might be almost nil, and fan interest is closing on nonexistent. But none of this means that the current Astros are killing baseball. What's happening is that things are returning to normal.
Houston is a town of frontrunners with short attention spans. What's amazing is that the Astros were able to maintain interest and draw decent crowds for so long despite not being competitive since 2007, because Houstonians are like people in Dallas and Atlanta and Miami. If the team's losing, it doesn't exist. And even when the team wins, the fans won't show up for a few years until they know things are for real.
While the Astros didn't make the World Series until 2005, during the late 1990s, it can be argued, they were one of the best teams in baseball. Jeff Bagwell and Craig Biggio were at their primes. The pitching staff was fantastic. The Astros were in contention for every year from 1994 until they moved to Minute Maid Park. And yet the only time the Dome was packed was when Randy Johnson pitched in 1998, Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire came to town or it was a playoff game.