Tuesday, December 15, 2009

So...maybe I owe Tracy Ringolsby an apology

Back on October 1 I ripped FoxSports columnist Tracy Ringolsby for throwing the following toss-away line in his column on the bidding for the Texas Rangers. He said:

Word is two other teams are available — the Houston Astros and Arizona Diamondbacks — although there is no indication that there have been any serious talks with a prospective buyer for either team.

The next day, Drayton said the following to Fox26:
Nothing could be further from the truth. Our goal is to get the best manager in baseball and move aggressively forward to be a champion in 2010.

So when JJO published his piece on the heels of T.R. Sullivan's ushering the cat out of the bag that Run-DMc almost sold the Astros to Jim Crane last fall, I thought that it's possible that I owe Ringolsby an apology.

“We had a tentative deal. Nothing lasts forever. I don’t want to sell, but when people call you listen."

In reality, though, McLane now admits that he and Crane had a tentative deal before Crane backed out. According to people close to McLane, at the time the Astros’ owner was furious that Crane backed out because of the economic downturn.

He called one day and said he was no longer interested."

Justice says:
Drayton was willing to see the Astros in 2008, he certainly is willing to sell them today. If the price is right, he's out the door...

...Now, though, he'll be getting other telephone calls from people interested in owning the Astros. If he listened once, he'll listen again.

This is curious. Last year, when it became clear that the national economy was going the way of Highway 36 from Temple to Cameron, anybody who was into a deep financial obligation and had an opportunity to get out with a profit would do it. No questions asked. And who would blame them?

Drayton has caught a lot of flak. From fans, from bloggers, from the Houston media, from the national media. He hasn't made consistently good decisions since 2005 (or beginning with the ushering out of Gerry Hunsicker), and if he sold the Astros, it wouldn't be the worst thing. But I like him. I can't tell you why.

One time I had the opportunity to meet Drayton. It was a couple of years ago and La Constabless and I lived in New York. You get more attention as an Astros fan in New York, because most people in New York only know of Houston from when Chien-Ming Wang hurt his foot, and they couldn't figure out why he was there in the first place, and not playing the Red Sox on Fox. So when Drayton came in, my boss pulled me in to meet him.

El Jefe: "Drayton, this is our resident Astros fan."
Drayton: "Oh yeah? Are you going to root for the Astros this year?"
Me: "Like I have my entire life."
Drayton: "Do you remember when we opened the Astrodome?"
Me: (confused. Because I was 27.) "Uhhh. That was a little bit before my time."
Drayton: "That's great. Thanks for your support."

That was it. I went back to work. I was more concerned with the possibility that I looked like I was in my 50s. The Astros wouldn't be the same without Drayton. And maybe that's not the worst thing. Would the Astros look different without Drayton? Does one billionaire have better baseball sense than another? Now that it looks like Jim Crane has been eliminated from the possibility of buying the Rangers, will he turn his attention to the Astros again?

Provided that Crane's bid was indeed $530 million for a team worth $405 million back in April, would McLane accept another bid by Crane?

I'm guessing not, given the initial backing-out last fall. But it all depends on how badly Drayton wants to get out. Allegedly, Drayton was "relieved" that it fell apart, but you have to wonder about that kind of money. Drayton's a businessman, after all.

Sorry, Tracy.