Let's Debate the Argument that the Astros Have Killed Baseball in Houston

Categories: Baseball, Sports

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Have the Astros killed baseball in Houston?
Former Astros beat writer Steve Campbell let loose with a series of tweets on Friday morning regarding the Astros that should be shared with a larger audience, and which should be addressed off-Twitter. The basic point of the tweets was that the Astros are killing baseball in Houston, noting that the most positive PR moment for the team over the past half decade has been the new uniforms, and that depending on a winning franchise to restore fan interest makes for a lousy business model.

The Astros have been nothing but a bad team making bad PR moves, compounded with the CSN Houston debacle, that has made the team "irrelevant to people's lives." Campbell further compares the Astros to the newspaper industry, stating that "it is hard to turn the tide once you've turned off people because you put out a deteriorating product AND went into cost-contain (READ: do things on the cheap mode). It makes people angry, and rightfully so."

It's not a given he tweets that the Astros will actually become a winning team, and that if "the underlying premise is that you're going to have to be a championship team for people to care, that's a pretty lousy model." If Houston were still a baseball city, he concludes, people would care no matter what, but it appears that there's just no fan interest.

Campbell does make some valid points. Hardcore baseball fans are fascinated by the Astros experiment of blowing everything up in a try for a total rebuild from the bottom of the farm system to the very top at the very same time, but that doesn't apply to average fans who want to spend their money on a decent product. The team has instead implemented a dynamic pricing model that forces people to pay more money for major teams, and next year season ticket prices are increasing. The team not being on television hinders the ability of casual fans to become familiar with the young kids on the team, and the move to 790 AM made it more difficult for fans to hear the games on the radio. Throw in the Brady Aiken issues, the childish manager, and the constant trades, and it's easy to see just why fans have lost interest in the Astros, and in baseball.



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3 comments
mikerkelly87
mikerkelly87

I disagree with the article and comments (to an extent).

Most fans are lost until the Stros are competitive again. These aren't true Astros fans in my book. I live in San Antonio and have been an Astros fan all my life. The past couple of years I've been listening to the games on the radio and have traveled to Houston to see 11 games in the span. With all the trolls out there it's easy to miss the high notes. DirecTV and AT&T have put a bid into the courts to buy the network which would put the Astros back on TV for next season. If this season was any indicator of what next is to come, next season should be exciting. With 40 games left in the season the Astros have tied their record from last year.....that's almost the definition of progress. With the emergence of Jose Altuve and Dallas Keuchel, along with the newcomers Singleton and Springer....the Stros are on the right track.

The Houston Astros are rebuilding the right way and for the long term. WHEN they get good (1 or 2 more years), they are going to be good for a long time. The evidence is there.

FRL713
FRL713

I think you nailed it here John.  Most Astros fans are front runners and they will be back when there's something to cheer about.  I know lots of frustrated fans that no longer follow the team, but still ask me regularly when they'll be good again.  Those fans will come back.  


Remember how dead the Dome seemed in the early 90s?  I came of age as an Astros fan in that era when light crowds and crummy teams were the norm.  Hopefully the Astros can build a winner the city can get behind as we did in the late 90s and into the early years of MMP.  The Astros hating trolls are all over Twitter, I try to pay them no mind.

rat618
rat618

First off let me say I grew up in Houston in the 50's and 60's so my point of reference is from the mid '50 Buff teams through the Colt 45's and Astros.  I saw many Buff games, spent many a hot night at Colt Stadium, and was at the very first Astrodome game (NYY vs Astros). Like many others who grew up when I did and before baseball was an everyday part of life during the season. So where did the Astros fail to be relevant for me?

 The first decision that began to cut my ties to the Astros was when McMullen fired Tal Smith and replaced him with Al Rosen. Tal's pitching first philosophy was ditched for more flash than substance. 

 The second hint was when Gene Elston was fired and Milo Hamilton replaced him. Like your iarticle several years ago the idea that Milo could ever appeal to the true baseball fan was ludicrous. Many a night was spent listening to Gene and Harry Kalas both with a purist Vin Sculley style that informed and entertained you. Even Loel Passe and all of his corny schtick (carried over from the Buff days) was better than Milo. Listening to Astro games at night or when in the car just didn't carry the same impact.


 Two years after the firing of Elston the third bullet was fired at Houston baseball fans when Bud Adams held the Astrodome hostage with the signature scoreboard being removed. That seemed to indicate that the Astros who drove the building of the 8th Wonder of the World were now second class citizens in their own building.

 The two playoff clubs and remarkable NLCS series of the 80's brought excitement and hope but when Nolan Ryan was allowed to head up I45 it was a monumental failure in understanding what Ryan brought on the field and to the box office. The Astros basically told the ballclub fans that they didn't care what we thought.

 While Drayton's purchase of the club had a hopeful beginning (hell Jack the Ripper would have been an improvement over McMullen). The decision to hire Larry Dierker was inspired and the product on the field greatly improved along with a baseball only park made Drayton a winner in my book (whether Minute Maid could have been better is another story). Somehow along about the time of the Astros trip to the Series in 2005 it seemed Drayton began to put the club up for sale and each decision was based on that or to capture more revenue any way he could. No longer did it seem the product on the field was the most important consideration and only those things that could aid a sale was first and foremost for the Astros. Firing Gerry Hunsicker, the stupid signs in LF, and finally the sign off of moving the Astros to the AL were the final straw for many of us who had  considered the Astros as part of our lives.

 The bonehead moves by Crane has continued the slide into making the Astros basically nothing but a footnote for me now. With DirecTV I am able to watch other teams who still seem to care about winning and taking care of their fans (maybe both at the same time but at least one of the two...the Twins being one of those with a great new ballpark but still a lousy club). When I consider going to a MLB game it is to a team other than the Astros. I'd rather spend my money making a trip to St Louis, Pittsburgh, San Francisco, or DC than to head 45 minutes up the Gulf Fwy to Minute Maid.

 I still consider myself a huge baseball fan and there is always a game on the TV or on the radio in the car.....but it isn't the Astros. Can the Astros recapture my attention? Possible but doubtful is the forecast.

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