Baseball in Texas

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For most of the state, the only professional baseball talk has been of the Texas Rangers lately. I commend them on their second great season, but for a portion of the state, the thing that has been on our baseball minds has been the recent sale of the Houston Astros to Jim Crane and the league’s announcement that the Astros will be moving to the American League in 2013.

This, some people are saying, is a travesty. Ex-Astros are coming out to decry the move and people claiming to be loyal fans are saying they will never watch and Astros game again.

With no hard evidence whatsoever, I think of myself as the most die-hard Astros fan in the Texas panhandle. I’ve stuck with them through thick and thin and, even through these last lean years (and this last, horrible, year) I have maintained my fandom. The Astros are my team and always will be. So how do I feel about the move to the AL?

The more I think about it, it’s not going to change my fanaticism. I wish they would stay in the National League (the logical choice for a move to the American League is the Milwaukee Brewers, as they came from there, but “logic” and “Bud Selig” almost never appear in the same sentence), but they didn’t ask me and I’m pretty sure even if this blog were to go viral the powers that be wouldn’t pay any attention.

Maybe if I lived in Houston, it would be a bigger deal. Maybe if I had been going to the stadiums all these years (the Astrodome and Enron/Minute Maid) I would have built up a stronger affinity for watching the Astros play National League teams and would be upset that the Dodgers and Giants and Red and Mets won’t be coming to town as often. But I have seen more games at the old Arlington Stadium (where it always smelled like “Incontinence Night” for some reason) than anywhere else, so I have just as much of an affinity for the Oakland A’s as I do for the Florida Marlins—oops, excuse me, Miami Marlins.

See, my affinity is for the Houston Astros, not who they are playing against. I rooted for the Rangers in the World Series, but for one hundred and sixty-two regular season games each season I have always rooted for the same team: the Houston Astros. Even when I lived in Denver, I went to Coors Field to root for the Astros. And that’s who I’ll root for now, no matter whom they’re playing.

Yes, it’s probably going to be a lean few years coming up. Even if these new players who showed so much promise at the end of the season fulfill that promise, it will probably be at least three years before they are truly competitive again. Add in that they will suddenly have to be using a DH a lot more often and the transition may be a little tougher. (In a way, I’m not sure why. So you have to start carrying a guy that can hit but covers less ground in the field than your average baby blanket, what’s the big deal?)

It doesn’t matter. I’ll be an Astros fan. Maybe Craig Biggio will become the manager one of these days, or Bagwell. Maybe Jose Cruz will be the general manager. Those guys would provide great ties to the glory years, but it doesn’t matter. Even if—like these last couple years—they run nine guys out onto the field I have never heard of, if they have “Houston” or “Astros” on their chest, they’ll be my team.