Friday, November 25, 2011

What happened, dear Astros?

Yesterday I found out the Astros will move to the American League after this coming season. Upon hearing the news, my first impulse was to resign as an Astros fan. But such an overly dramatic and potentially regrettable decision is worthy only of Mets fans, and I know as plain as any fact that in baseball one doesn't give up on one's home team on one bit of bad news alone. Rather, one first waits a few years, enduring bad trades and losing seasons؟

But moving to the Devil League is the worst possible news. To put this in perspective, even if the Astros were to lose all 162 games in a season I would think to myself, Well, at least the Astros played baseball, not like those imposters in the AL, who don't make everyone hit. In baseball, every player hits. Every player hits. I looked at the Astros' presence in the NL and the Rangers' presence in the AL as tangible proof that Dallas is an inferior city to Houston. Now they're division rivals., and I'm forced to rethink my conclusions.

Though, the core of my problem isn't so much with the Astros as it is with MLB. Don't misunderstand me: I fully expect any professional sport to whore itself out given the chance—kudos to anyone who figures out how to earn good money through recreation. But MLB continues to degrade itself from its former position as a high-class call girl to that of a common street hooker on dollar day. Baseball has always been idiosyncratic and resistant to change, but now it seems regretful about it, reforming itself slowly enough to hope no one notices. Well, I notice.

First they created the DH as a kind of pre-retirement package for aging players—a change that appeals to the kind of fan who conflates hitting home runs with strategy. Then they devised interleague play, which eliminated the mystique of the NL-AL distinction and the privilege of the World Series. Then there was the steroid era and MLB's complicity in trashing sacred records to win back fans from the 1994 strike. Now, using the Astros' league switch as an excuse, MLB is increasing the prevalence of interleague play.

I say MLB should stop beating around the bush and just openly mimic the NFL. Here's an idea. Even in pro baseball, not all players excel at both offense and defense. How about splitting each team into two squads of specialists, one for offense and one for defense? Batter shows bunt? Bring in the special team to handle that.



Chad said...

Your article is malformed, missing the opening rant element.

I'm so pleased to be your muse!

Craig M. Brandenburg said...

Chad— You're very amusing.

Lindsey said...

I'm going to just hazard a guess that Josh would agree with most everything you've written here! (Me, I don't care too much because I'm not a follower of any pro-sports.)

Craig M. Brandenburg said...

Lindsey— One of my first memories of Josh is from Little League—I think the summer after 4th grade. Josh and I were on the same team, and at one of the first practices, the coach asked us to go stand at the position we wanted to play. Josh sprinted towards the pitcher's mound along with half the team, though Josh was the most vocal and enthusiastic of the bunch. I'm sure he had been waiting all practice (or several practices) just for that one moment, to be pitcher.

Anonymous said...

Tying this into Met Fans? Makes you think how you got your butt kicked in 86? Well we have our problems, but we also have the world series pennant.

Craig M. Brandenburg said...

Anonymous— “We”? Which one of these players are you?