Monday, June 20, 2011

It's time for "Let's Take Issue With Gil LeBreton!"

I generally like the Fort Worth Star-Telegram's Gil LeBreton. But not so much today. Now, what we won't do is to FJM it (because it seems cheap, and I simply cannot do it justice), but there are a couple of things that should be pointed out about LeBreton's column on realignment and Jim Crane.

I love interleague play. I was at the ballpark that night in June 1997, when the Giants and Rangers played history's first interleague game, and the appeal of matching the two leagues hasn't wavered.

As anyone with the DirecTV MLB Extra Innings package could see last weekend, interleague play adds an extra layer of drama to an otherwise routine day on the baseball schedule.

So LeBreton likes baseball, but finds it boring. So when the A's and Giants play, it's an extra chance to get jacked up. I do not understand this.

On realignment, which he is very much in favor of:
Except... proposed new Astros owner Jim Crane has been quoted as saying he has no interest in moving the team to the American League. Crane grew up in St. Louis and reportedly considers himself a traditionalist.

But since when did Crane, a previous three-time loser at trying to buy into the MLB fraternity, earn the right to dictate anything to the other 29 owners?

Think Crane will get Ray Davis' and Bob Simpson's vote, after the way he helped to jack up the price of the Rangers last summer?

I'm sure owners are petty and vindictive (just like writers and bloggers and other humans), and I'm sure that some owners aren't terribly fond of Mr. Crane, but it's my understanding that Crane's (and his group's, and Bank of America's, and...) $680 million earned the right to veto 29 owners forcing his team into another league.

Also, did Jim Crane help drive up the price of the Rangers? Yes. But that's because he was trying to buy them. It's not like the sale of the Rangers was some wacky episode of Full House where Uncle Jesse was trying to screw Danny Tanner out of a car, or a leather jacket, or a Beach Boys LP. Crane was trying to buy the damn franchise, not screw over Nolan Ryan (allegedly). And so if the Rangers take it out on Crane and the Astros because they're pissed that Crane tried to buy a team, then part of me hopes that the Astros do get moved to the AL West, and routinely beat the piss - in a jackass sort of way, a stealing-bases-with-a-40-run-lead kind of way - out of the Rangers.

The Rangers and Astros should be more than novelty opponents.

Neighbors shouldn't be strangers.

How would he feel if the Astros weren't 875 games under .500 this season? Anyone who is against radical realignment, says LeBreton, is a traditionalist. And traditionalists are nonsensical. Like that column.


Anonymous said...

The part about Jim Crane trying to buy the Rangers is only half true. Ryan and Greenberg had a deal to buy the Rangers way back in late 2009, but then Crane apparently went behind their backs and continued to negotiate with Tom Hicks. MLB was not happy at all about this, and it's probably why they came out against Crane and Cuban during the bankruptcy auction last summer. If not for Crane's apparent interference, the Rangers deal might have happened months sooner, without the courtroom theatrics.

Gil LeBreton said...

First of all, love the website. Growing up in New Orleans, the Rusty Staub-era Astros were my team. I spent my summers with my ear glued to the radio, listening to Gene Elston and Loel Passe.
You mischaracterized me, though. I love baseball, I follow it passionately and I don't find it boring in the least, even if it's 12:30 in the morning and I'm trying to watch the Padres and Dodgers. (Ask around -- no columnist in the DFW area attends games and writes about baseball more than I do).
I just think interleague play adds more excitement to the schedule. What's so scandalous about thinking that?
Realignment. Moving an NL team to the AL isn't my idea -- it's Bud Selig's. I'm sorta lukewarm on the idea.
I am, however, in favor of two 15-team leagues if it precipitates (1) a balanced schedule or (2) a radical realignment mostly along geographic lines.
In my opinion, baseball would gain by doing both.
I don't care if the Astros are "875 games under .500" (as you put it) or the first Texas team to play in a World Series. I just think it would be good for them to play in the same division as the Rangers.
As for Mr. Crane, I applaud the Astros' impending infusion of cash. But understand that Crane has no friends in this market, where he was seen as a meddler in the Rangers sale who almost cost the club a chance to retain Nolan Ryan. Nolan said pointedly during the bankruptcy trial (a trial that was caused by Crane's interference with a previously agreed upon sale price) that he would not work with Crane, even if asked.
Newspapers are scuffling, but we don't make this stuff up. I've been doing this in Fort Worth for 30-plus years, and when somebody tells me that Crane, as a new owner with little leverage, will be at Selig's mercy in changing leagues, I tend to believe him.
Selig gave outgoing Rangers owner Tom Hicks a deadline to name a buyer. The Ryan-Chuck Greenberg group won that right. Crane, however, continued to negotiate behind everyone's backs with Hicks. And it ticked off the commissioner of baseball royally, which led to the bankruptcy trial.
So what makes you think $680 million is going to matter? It's not going to buy Crane any favors.
Don't get me started on the DH.
I don't like to defend it. But in my opinion, having pitchers bat is often little more than comic relief. There has to be a reason why the NL is the only league in North and South America that still lets pitchers bat.
Thanks for letting me explain myself further.
Good luck to the Astros and to all of the good fans who frequent your blog site.

Gil LeBreton
Sports Columnist
Fort Worth Star-Telegram

AstroBrit said...

Pitchers batting is little more than comic relief?

He obviously hasn't been watching J.A. Happ bat this season.

Astros County said...


Thanks for stopping by - it's always nice to have the writer explain themselves and their train of thought. I can't take issue with your comments, but I guess I'm curious about how the owners - even if they don't like Crane - can override a potential veto from whomever owns the Astros and ship them to the AL. Is that possible?

Oh, and, uh, sorry about all the "nonsense" talk.