added 11/28/2011 by Dan Honig
(Editor's Note: Since it became clear that the Astros would bid farewell to 50 years of National League history and switch to the American League, our mailbox at Astros Daily has filled with letters from readers, many writing to us for the first time. One fan included a long reflection of his feelings at the news. We welcome guest columns. If you wish to submit one, e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
Dear Houston Astros,
Forgive this note but I just wanted to say goodbye, and didn't know how else to do it. This is part eulogy, part closure, I suppose...
A native Detroiter, I fell in love with the Astros as a boy. Perhaps it was those uniforms, or all the WGN day games, but I did. Some of my earliest and strongest memories are with the 'Stros. At age 5, I remember watching Game 6 of the 1986 NLCS; I have the game on my iphone, and watch it frequently (always turning it off after Billy Hatcher's home run in the 14th); at age 7, Nolan Ryan tossed me a warm-up ball at Wrigley.
My work over the last decade has been mostly overseas; but nonetheless I've followed the 'Stros as best as I could, and these memories still mark time for me. In 2004, I watched the NLCS games from an illegal bookmaker in Myanmar (it's very hard to find somewhere with satellite TV in Myanmar, as you might imagine); I paid the bookmaker to tune the TV to the Astros, and actually woke people up with my roar when Jeff Bagwell's miracle kept us alive in the ninth.
In 2005, when we finally made it to the World Series, my staff in East Timor all became Astros fans when they realized that every Series game meant the afternoon off, after I arranged with an expatriate Australian to let me watch the games. In 2009, now living in Liberia, I saw a local in an old-school Astros t-shirt with "BOSSMAN" written on the back. I traded him for my shirt and tie and went through a day of meetings in slacks, dress shoes, and that shirt, which is still in my closet.
Along the way when in the states (and now that I'm back, based out of Boston), I've come to Houston a few times to go to games. Friends and colleagues in Chicago, New York, San Francisco, St. Louis, Denver, and now D.C. know that my chances of coming to town are higher when the Astros are in town. My house has lots of Astros stuff and in my wallet is a very well-worn 1986 Topps Glenn Davis card. As I write, I'm looking at my signed Jose Cruz rookie card (meeting him while he was an Astros coach was another incredible moment). I've loved and supported the Astros.
All that said, I have to stop. The Tigers have a special place in my heart as well; when I first started to love the Astros, before interleague play, it seemed the only possible Tigers-Astros conflict was in a World Series, which struck me then as unlikely, and if it ever did happen, a very good sort of problem. The Astros and Tigers have, for the last 20 years, had divergent fortunes - one good while the other wasn't - and so even in the interleague era, when they've met occasionally, I've just supported the team who was better.
But now, with the Astros in the AL, it's clear the conflict will be too much; that I have to, finally, choose a side. At the end of the day, love the Astros though I have, I'm married to Detroit - loyal to my home, when push has come to shove.
I suppose I always knew that this baseball polygamy would blow up. Like chicken pox or circumcision, maybe it would have been better to do this younger. But I'm glad I didn't actually; I'm happy for the memories, and the moments, we've shared together. Nonetheless, I have to admit my eyes are welling up as I write this.
I have faith that someday you'll win a World Series (hopefully while the Tigers aren't in contention). When you do, five or fifteen or twenty-five years from now, when the wound hurts a bit less - I think I'll smile, and be glad for you, though a bit sad, like seeing an ex you once loved happy in her new family.
Goodbye, Astros. Be well, and I'll miss you. And good luck out there.