added 12/31/2012 by Bob Hulsey
Dear 2012, you sucked.
Let's tighten our belts as our leaders take us all over the "fiscal cliff" but the entire year seemed like going over a cliff for Astros fans. Unless you're a groupie of Lucas Harrell or Jose Altuve, the highlight of your year was probably watching Carlos Lee get traded away.
Ironically, Lee was dealt to the Marlins for two players after nixing a trade to the contending Dodgers. After the season, GM Jeff Luhnow flipped one of the players acquired from the Marlins to the Dodgers for John Ely whom, I'd guess, was one of the targets Luhnow had when he was trying to deal Lee out west.
On the field, the Astros surprised us with a 22-23 start before nosediving through an 18-63 summer only to provide a ray of hope with a 15-15 finish.
Luhnow traded away any player who earned more than $1 million* (except for Bud Norris and Jed Lowrie who are still the subject of trade rumors this winter) and his big free agent signing batted .197 last season.
Luhnow spent the year in pursuit of the Minor League Executive of the Year Award. Now he has a farm system with a lot of imported talent and a big league team that looks like a shopping spree at Dollar Tree.
I suppose the optimists will see future stardom behind every minor leaguer acquired or beam with delight over the coup made at the June draft but those rewards seem like so many mileage points on your airline credit card. They might eventually take you somewhere but not for a long time and maybe not as far as you initially thought.
Meanwhile, cliff or no, the competition gets stiffer in the new American League West, Bud Selig's new gulag for Houston fans. The spendaholic Angels ought to sweep the season series with the Astros based on payroll alone (Anaheim $150 million projected; Houston $21 million). The Texas Rangers ($110 million) seem intent on catching them. The Oakland A's have been doing this Moneyball business a lot longer than Luhnow has and are cresting off a 94-win season. Then there are the Mariners who continue to struggle with their identity - are they a big small market team or a small big market team?
So, prepare for more suckage in 2013 with the added horrors of the designated hitter and aluminum bats (they have those in the AL, don't they? And if not, why not?). If you thought Cubs and Braves fans are insufferable, wait until you meet Yankee and Red Sox fans.
But don't worry. You won't be able to watch the Astros anyway because they'll be playing past your bedtime or your cable provider doesn't carry that channel or you'll be too busy working that second job made necessary because of our leaders in Washington. I suppose there is some mercy there somewhere.
Jim Deshaies will no longer be around to wisecrack us through another terrible year. No matter who the Astros replace him with, his sense of humor will be missed as we witness blowout after blowout. We had to bid farewell to many other friends in the organization, both on the air and off it.
Then again, the Astros will be sporting the right colors in 2013 and we might see one or more former Astros inducted into Cooperstown this July. Then there's another draft to look forward to in June. And maybe by September, Houston fans will finally get to see what all the buzz was about regarding some of our highly-rated farmboys.
At least we'll have the Texans to take our minds off our misery. Oh wait.