There are those of us who have been a little hard on Run-DMc, myself included. Do I think sometimes he's cheap? Absolutely. Do I think sometimes he needs to do more owning and less general managing? Sure. Do I think he has the track record for us to give him the benefit of the doubt? Yes.
Remember when the Astros traded Billy Wagner (who is 15 saves away from 400, mind you - 6th on the all-time list. Did you realize?) for Brandon Duckworth, Taylor Buchholz and Ezequiel Astacio? Remember how the Asttos were crucified for giving away a premier closer - and then went out and got Andy Pettitte with the extra payroll? Remember how sheepish we felt after hammering the Astros for being cheap and stupid and then pulled off that move, which then pulled off Roger Clemens (ah, how times have changed)?
Let's be considerate of that possibility that one of the mystery teams talking to free agents could be the Astros. (beat).
Do I think that's happening? No, I don't. But the Astros have had a pretty good run over the last ten years and they deserve that consideration. We'll feel pretty stupid if Derek Lowe is in the rotation, or Manny is patroling the outfield when we complain about using the $6 million we saved on Ty Wigginton for Aaron Boone if it means more maneuvering room later.
Again, I don't necessarily believe it myself. One of the things I've seen firsthand in my line of work is that people will still pay for diversions. They may sacrifice at Starbucks by making Chock Full o' Nuts at home. They may sacrifice by taking a PBJ to work instead of ordering the steamed veggie dumplings. But Americans will NOT skimp on diversions. The NBA is faring reasonably well in the worst part of the economic crisis. The Kings and T'Wolves are down over 1,000 fans from last year to this year, but...it's the Kings and the T'Wolves.
But poor play doesn't seem to be affecting overall attendance too much. That New York Times article says the Oklahoma City Thunder are 2-24 and still outdrawing the Sonics crowds by 5,000 a game. Attendance at Rockets games has consistently been above 15,000 per game this season.
I do not think attendance will suffer at Astros games. If baseball can survive the Great Depression (with only 16 teams in the Majors), if baseball can survive World War II, baseball will survive this economic downturn. I just hope that Run-DMc is paring payroll in preparation for the future of this team and I hope that he's not running the Astros like a grocery store. There's no reason to think he doesn't have the best interests of the team at heart. (But that doesn't mean you can't make dumb decisions).