Not enough brains, nor money

added 11/5/2003 by Susan and Darrell Pittman

While we Astros fans (myself included, at times) decry Drayton McLane's budget restrictions on Gerry Hunsicker, one has but to look at the last two World Series to understand that it's smarts, not payroll, that wins championships.

This is part and parcel of what makes baseball the greatest of all sports.

How else can one explain the retooled Florida Marlins winning their second world championship, this time against the vaunted New York Yankees, with the Marlins paying about one-third of the Yankees' payroll? Last year, the Anaheim Angels beat the Giants and Barry Bonds, also against all odds.

The plain fact was that the upstart Marlins wanted to, and knew how to, win it more than did the Yankees.

McLane, Hunsicker, and the Astros' front office are, in this respect, right. Money does not automatically translate into winning. Brains counts for much more, even if they cannot muster enough of it amongst themselves.

The current economic realities of baseball render fans' hopes of keeping long-time heroes their entire careers in the local teams' uniform unrealistic, laudable though the thought it is.

As proven by the Yankees the last three seasons, simply throwing money at a problem is not enough.

This raises a logical quandary for Drayton and Hunsicker. There are poor teams that win it all, despite the odds, and rich teams that blow it; but Houston is a mid-market team that always blows it, despite any measure of early promise.

Does throwing money at two players, Biggio and Bagwell, because of their past individual regualar-season contributions, warrant giving up all hope of winning a World Series for as long as they're here?

As much as they profess to love the Astros, can they seriously claim to still make such a contribution to the Astros that justifies their advanced ages and their dimished contributions, and the injuries that slow them down more and more each season? Bagwell's shoulder-hindered bad throws, and Biggio's prostration on Tal's Hill come particularly to mind.

Notice that Hunsicker was only extended for one year.

I wish I could tell you that the day was over when the sports owners (not just baseball) could hold whole cities hostage, threatening to move their teams unless the taxpayers funded new sports venues totally at the public's expense, but it's not. Except for kicking Bud Adams' Oilers out of town (and rightfully so), Houston fans are susceptible to that sort of blackmail. The Rockets successfully pulled the same sham a couple of years ago.

I am a life-long Houston Astros fan. I fell in love with the new Astros Field when it opened in 2000, and bought season tickets for the next two seasons. Because of MLB's ill-advised attack last year upon fansites like this, Susan and I have decided not to buy season tickets ever again.

Don't even get me started about playoff tickets (having to pay for the World Series tickets in advance, when they won't even get there!)

Expect Drayton to sell the Astros sometime after the 2004 All-Star Game, to be played at Astros Field. My suspicion is that that will be his swan song (I hope)... by all appearances, he's been grooming Tillman Fertitta to buy the team (witness the "Landry's Crawford Boxes" game-long broadcast commercial in 2003).

Of course, no matter what happens, it would be too much to expect from the Astros' broadcast crew to actually broadcast Astros baseball, instead of the continual stream of promotions and commercials. I get so mad when Bill Worrell flirts with that idiot girl from the Astros' promotion department when she's on an entire inning about the next bobble-head promotion, while we fans miss balls and strikes in the meantime. It's so ludicrous.

Who knows... maybe Fertita wants to win. Time will tell. If so, it would be a welcome change from the ownership we've had heretofore.

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