added 1/7/2009 by Scott Barzilla

I'm usually pretty oblivious to the dealings of the local media (television, radio, and the Comical) but I remember my wife telling me of Wendy Corona's lay off this week. My wife and I are partial to Channel 2. A lot of it goes back to the Hurricane coverage. I'm not that big on their scare tactics in terms of weather and "The Wheel of Justice," but I enjoyed their coverage during the storm and she was a prominent member of their team.

Channel 2 gave the struggling economy as the excuse for the layoff. Naturally, when you lay off one employee it makes people wonder. Not only that, but when they are the only station to lay off someone then is it due to a bad economy or is the bad economy isolated to channel 2? Of course, this is more time than I want to speculate on what happened to Corona. I don't have anything against her and actually hopes she lands on her feet, but opinions I have seen range anywhere from, "she's hot" to "all of them have plastic surgery." I'm just not going to get involved in that cesspool.

For one, it is degrading to women to view them as just eye candy. Sure, all television news is based partially on personal appearance. I'm sure they are even coached to accentuate their beauty, but to openly suggest they have gone through a lot of plastic surgery is crossing a line. Suffice it to say, infotainment is a nasty business and they can justify moves like this however they want, but they realize they caught a lot of flack when Linda Lorelle was let go. So, why not blame the economy? Everyone else does.

Closer to home, my school district is planning on closing some schools "because of the storm." The rub is that they were planning on shutting down a couple of schools before the storm. So, the storm provides them with a good opportunity to do it. Since I'm an employee, I will not go into any more depth about what they will do or should do but sometimes disaster provides us with opportunities we wouldn't have had before. Some of these closings (and impending layoffs) will be controversial. Heck, I know I could get caught up in it, but it is less upsetting when I consider what the storm has done. I know I'm not alone.

I could go on and on with further examples of people using disaster to do things they wanted to do anyway. If you have been paying attention then you probably know where I am going with this. The Astros have used the bad economy as a defense for keeping their spending down. Now, I could go forward and point out counterexamples of why they are full of beans with their excuse. For instance, the Tribune Company is going into bankruptcy and they still have enough to get Milton Bradley for three years and 30 million dollars. They are also rumored to be in the running for Jake Peavy again.

Add that to the countless millions spent by the previously tight-fisted teams like the Oakland Athletics and San Francisco Giants and you can begin to see why people would be skeptical of Drayton McLane and his motives. The truth is that his plan makes a lot of sense, bad economy or no. It is just easier to swallow if you think other people are suffering just the same. Truth is, some teams are. Most of the teams in the Midwest are cutting back or holding the line. Misery loves company I guess.

The truth is that McLane feels he has gone out on a limb the last couple of seasons. Two seasons ago, he signed Carlos Lee to a 100 million dollar deal. Last year, he signed off on a trade for Miguel Tejada. This doesn't even mention the moves that brought Randy Wolf and Latroy Hawkins in. Those moves netted them respectability but not much else. Yes, they were in the hunt until the final week, but close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades. Ed Wade can make a convincing argument that we need to spend 120 million to remain competitive. It's easy to understand why McLane would say enough is enough.

Families must make the same kind of choices in even the best of economies. I can make a compelling argument that a new HDTV that hangs from the wall will be better all the way around. It takes up less space, has a superior picture, and will be safer for the toddler. I'm currently working on book number four (book number three is coming out this Spring). A new laptop would make that process a lot easier. Still, we haven't made enough money off of the first two books. It's a lot easier to deny me those things with the excuse that the economy is bad.

As for the Astros, it is a lot easier to come back around and spend more money when contracts like Miguel Tejada come off the books. So, bad economy or no bad economy, the Astros will wait. Continuing to spend money just to be competitive doesn't make much sense. You wake up one day and you have a 200 million dollar payroll. If McLane wants to put the kabosh on that then that's his prerogative. Some of us can snicker at the bad economy excuse, but that doesn't mean that there isn't some sound reasoning behind it.