Selig Claims There Was No Choice

added 3/28/2013 by Bob Hulsey

Commissioner and arch-villain Bud Selig claims he "didn't have an alternative" when it came to moving the Astros to the American League. The former used car dealer says that just like a rapist at the time of sentencing. With all the sincerity he can muster to cover a lie.

I am going to be blunt here. Selig raped the Astros because they were vulnerable. They had an owner who desperately wanted out and a prospective owner who desperately wanted in despite the personal smears he had to endure from Maury Brown and Richard Justice at Bud's behest to get inclusion into the club. So Bud took advantage of the situation like a rapist who sees a young girl alone in a dark alley. Now he wants you to believe he didn't have a choice.

He just couldn't move the Milwaukee Brewers, the team he moved from the American League to the National League just 15 years ago because he didn't want to disrupt the "tremendous rivalries" they had with the other NL Central clubs. I suppose the 28 years of rivalries with the equally close Twins, White Sox, Royals and Indians was not "tremendous", eh Bud?

Allegedly, a team had to be moved to cure the 14-16 league split Bud created in 1998 when he moved the Brewers (he said back then, too, that he didn't have a choice moving the Brewers). What was behind that necessity were three things:

1) The players union had a pending labor contract coming up and they wanted another AL team because they want the union dues of another designated hitter in their coffers. The union wants all of baseball to have the DH for their own financial reasons, not because it improves the sport.

2) A 15-15 split forces year-round interleague play so National League teams will eventually employ designated hitters. See above.

3) The Texas Rangers have whined since 1998 that they were stuck in a division with three pacific coast teams two time zones and thousands of miles away. When the Rangers were in bankruptcy court back in 2008, surely the division alignment was cited as part of the reason the ballclub was broke.

To be honest, the Rangers have a legitimate beef. The solution, though, was not to inflict the same misery on the Astros. The answer was to align the Rangers in a division with Central and Mountain teams. Apparently, Selig and the owners thought "simple geography" meant adding the Astros to the same division with Seattle - almost 2400 miles away.

Simply, Rapist Bud chose to inflict the maximum pain on one victim rather than ask any other team to sacrifice "in the best interests of baseball". The franchise move benefits the Astros in no way, shape or form as fans are now figuring out.

Bud, when he's not claiming he had no choice, tries to sell this lemon by claiming the Astros and Rangers can now play 19 times a season. He doesn't mention how many times the Astros have to fly to Seattle and Oakland for late-night snoozefests before hundreds of fans.

I've documented before how the American League is an inferior league in terms of attendance and parity. A.L. teams made up nine of the eleven worst attendance records in the big leagues last year. When Houston joins them, that will be ten of eleven. Nine home dates with the Rangers and three each with the Red Sox and Yankees (at dynamic pricing rates) will not make up for all the yawners against the rest of the American League which sets up the Astros for bad attendance figures at least through the end of the decade.

Why do you think Jim Crane demanded a $75 million rebate to switch leagues? He knew the franchise was being devalued in the move. He should have demanded more but then again he says he had no choice.

As for setting up a rivalry with the Rangers, if it meant anything then the Silver Boot would have meant something and the truth is, it didn't. I might remind Rapist Bud that Texans have a long documented history of settling their rivalries with firearms - you know, those things you candy-assed yankees didn't even want displayed on the Astros jerseys last year. Ask the folks who live in gang-infested neighborhoods how much fun those rivalries are.

If rivalries mattered, Lance Berkman would not have signed with the Rangers. Rivalries are born, not invented. That's why the Dallas Cowboys' biggest rivals are in New York and Washington.

Which leads us to the next item on the agenda, that being that Astros fans are likely to watch more Rangers telecasts this year than Astros telecast because Crane is trying to get the cable and satellite carriers to buy watered-down liquor at contraband prices.

The CSN-Houston network is not worth what Crane wants them to pay because the product is simply not a quality product. He puts a AAA team on the field, pays them the worst in baseball and then expects providers to pay up as if they are the Angels. It's not going to happen.

The poor NBA Rockets were suckered into this mess even though their territory is surrounded by the Spurs, Mavericks, Thunder and Pelicans. Their games are getting blacked out everywhere but Southeast Texas due to territorial rights. They could put on the court the best team in basketball and probably still can't get rich because few can watch them.

Meanwhile, Crane is stuck offering a product that Texas baseball fans already get on cable - American League baseball on Fox Sports, including 18 games between the Rangers and Astros. Why spend more money to watch bad baseball when better baseball is already on their sports packages?

Had the Astros stayed in the National League, Crane could have offered carriers an alternative to Fox - National League baseball against historic rivals - but Rapist Bud left him no choice.

Crane says he can't take a smaller deal because it sets a bad precedent and it would hurt the Astros' future spending power - the same robust spending power we see on the field now. I suppose he could just say he doesn't have a choice but that excuse is starting to wear thin.

The smart thing to do is to agree to carriage deals with less money but for fewer years, knowing systems get pressured when they risk losing a channel fans already get. Bite the bullet to get on the dial then go for the big payday the next time around when the Astros are hopefully a better draw.

This travesty would all be comical if it wasn't happening to MY team and my fellow Astros fans. Rapist Bud has left them lying in the alley with clothes torn and wounds bare. He claims to be sympathetic. He wants you to believe he had no choice.

Bud should remember how Texans dispense justice before coming to Houston to open the season. If Selig and Crane get nothing worse than thunderous boos, they should feel fortunate (they won't even get that because most of those paying customers will be Rangers fans and why should they care what happened to the Astros?)

But should some overzealous fan get into the park and, God forbid, take matters into his own hands at least he'll have a ready excuse, one that worked so well when it was done to him.