Tuesday, August 14, 2012

"The integrity of the competition"

You know, to say that St. Louis media seemingly spends its spare time saying that Jeff Luhnow wasn't the reason for the Cardinals' success, they spend an awful lot of time talking about Jeff Luhnow and the Astros.

Take, for example, Derrick Goold's column today. Read it. Read the tortured prose, the "wait, is this fair? Is this right?" tone, and weep for your children's children.

In this column, the Astros are compared to those Olympic badminton teams "for making a mockery of the competition and purposefully throwing matches to set up better matchups later in the tournament." The 2012 Astros are even compared to the Marlins. And those, my friends, are fighting words.

It seems as though, from reading through the article 8-10 times, that what the Astros have done was not just necessary, but unfair. And if that sounds weird to you, then it should.

Their roster is laced with September callups and its only August.

The "integrity of the competition" phrase is bandied about. Defender of the honor of Base Ball, Charlie Manuel, didn't play a lineup of scrubs against the Braves during the final series of the 2011 season. Why, it's almost as though the insinuation is that the Astros are tanking on purpose. They're not. At no point during the losing streak that encompassed July (and my soul) did anyone say, "Hey I think the Astros are losing these games on purpose." It is almost impossible to lose 34 out of 38 and no one accuse you of cheating. Yet, that's exactly what the Astros did, and no one accused them of cheating because, clearly, they weren't. They're just experiencing the the result of four years of needed rebuilding taking place over the course of six weeks.

Perhaps it would have been better for Base Ball had the Astros not traded everyone making seven figures for prospects. Because if you have Wandy on the mound, and Carlos Lee at first, you'll win 100 games and keep things "fair." No. What the Marlins did following the 1997 World Series was flat-out theft. What the Astros are now doing is necessary.

Goold lists the contenders' remaining games vs. Houston, and notes that the Cardinals still have nine games left with the Astros. He also notes that the Cardinals haven't exactly taken care of their business. Which isn't the Astros' fault. As a fan of the Astros, .000 is not just Armando Galarraga's winning percentage; It's also the number of ruby-red rat sh*ts I give about how Luhnow's rebuilding plan affects other teams in the National League.

Everyone should take care of their own business. If the Cardinals are a contender, then they should beat the Astros in 2012. The randomness of baseball aside, if you can't take a three-game series from the Astros in September, you shouldn't be booking flights to Washington in October.

I won't fault the Astros for taking care of their own business. If teams don't like it, beat them. It shouldn't be all that hard, for now.