added 5/15/2013 by Scott Barzilla
Whenever I think about George Postolos, I think about the time I met him in June of 2011. He actually had reached out to me saying that he wanted to talk. When the incoming president of the Astros says that, I take it as a good sign. As it turned out, it was a good meeting for both of us. He wanted some information and I would learn a lot about what makes the man tick.
Since I've been an Astros fan for as long as I can remember and because he took the time to reach out to me, I have tried as much as possible to see things from the new ownership's point of view. I've defended them at almost every turn. Even when obvious mistakes were made, I've kept the faith.
There are plenty of fans that fall under that category, but their legions are shrinking and shrinking fast. For me, I'll always be a fan, but I don't know how much longer I can defend.
David Coleman at The Crawfish Boxes wrote an excellent piece last night highlighting the public relations gaffes from the previous year or so. I'm not here to comment on all of those, so if you are really into enumerating the different problems you should check that out. They highlight the enormity of it all. I'll let David tackle the specific, but in general it is simply becoming harder and harder to defend the Astros to those in our lives that aren't Astros fans. It brings immediately to my mind the conversation I had with Postolos back in June of 2011.
I said many things in my meeting with George Postolos, but he said only one thing of substance to me. The key to making money in any professional sport was winning. He said he learned that from his Rockets days. It wasn't about style, public relations, or even the belief that you would win. It was about winning.
Looking back, it all makes sense. Every single move by the organization on the business side seems to reflect this mantra. David's list is pretty exhaustive, but if I could boil it down to its primary points it would seem to indicate a lack of desire to focus on any of these areas because they didn’t have anything to do with winning.
Retain Jim Deshaies? Why go to the effort when the television broadcast team has little to do with winning? Retain the radio broadcast team? Sure, they were professionals and good at what they did, but why retain them when you can hire a team that will do it for cheaper? What does it matter anyway if they aren't a part of this team winning?
Heck, go all the way down to social media. I've never had any bad dealings with Kelly George before she left. She seems nice and approachable enough, but the entire tenure of her career seemed to come with the subtext of "who are you and what do you know about baseball?" She was here almost a year and I still didn't know. It became clear they weren't interested in anyone that actually knew anything about baseball.
When it comes to high profile firings, resignations, and retirements, I don't believe in coincidences. George Postolos' resignation came right before the news broke that the Astros were severing ties with the Houston Area Women's Center gala through the Astros Wives organization which had raised funds to support victims of domestic and sexual abuse. It had been done since 1990 and netted the organization upwards of $250,000 per year. As they say in business, timing is everything. They could have made the announcement on Mother's Day if they really wanted to win the Bad Timing Award, but 24 hours after the holiday seemed good enough.
Let's not mention the fact that the Astros Wives organization has been disbanded themselves as an official charitable arm of the Astros. There were numerous twitter jokes that followed the decision, but this wasn't the work of Ebenezer Scrooge. The Astros are involving themselves in some worthwhile charities in its stead. Again, timing is everything and the timing simply says that they don't care particularly about timing.
This brings us back to the resignation of Postolos. Did the resignation have anything to do with the canceling of the Gala? There was certainly no statement to that effect, but I don't believe in coincidences.
The public reaction of those in the organization indicates that this was not planned. The comedians among us would be fair to wonder whether anything over there is really planned. When a resignation is unplanned and comes on the wake of another public relations nightmare, one is left to wonder whether the departing party is leaving because they can no longer spin the actions of their boss or whether they were pushed out by a boss that can no longer stomach the public relations nightmares they themselves have caused. It would be speculation for me to assume either of the two, so we'll just have to leave it hanging as a question for now.
The long and short of it is that the organization is becoming harder and harder to defend. Vince Lombardi may have said that winning was the only thing, but it really isn't. True fans stick with their team through good times and bad. We've built up a relationship with them that sticks with us.
It may seem sappy and naive, but they are like family. We can feud with them, not speak to them, and even hate them at times, but they are still family. Yet, in every family there is a breaking point. I don't know when that point is for me, but it is approaching. Mere losses on the diamond won't push me over the edge. Those I understand. It is everything else that is simply becoming too much.