Friday, October 03, 2008

Update. . . or end-date?

Wow. No posts since July. That used to be unusual for me, but no longer. Ah well.

In my last post, I mentioned that I would describe how my trip to New York made me feel as a fan. To be succinct. . . um, inferior? Like a step-child, maybe? Or maybe, loser.

There were virtually no Astros' objects in the HOF. I kept looking. . .and looking. . .and looking. There was a mention of the Astrodome, Craig Biggio's 3000th hit, the occasional no-hitter or pennant ring. . . but that was pretty much it. No Astros objects in the gift shop, either.

Nothing like a reminder that your team has never won a World Series, nor has any members in the HOF, to make you proud of your fandom.

Going to Shea and Yankee Stadium was equally dispiriting. Even though I pretty much despise both teams, I have to admit I was jealous. I mean, fans that actually know their players' names? And actually pay attention to the game, and cheer for the players? What a revelation! Usually, when I go to Minute Maid Park, if I yell something along the lines of "Go, Berkman!", I get the look from other fans. You know--the look that says, 'Will you please be quiet?', or maybe, 'Who is Berkman?'

When you add in the Astros' miserable play pre-All Star Break, my enthusiasm as an Astros' fan took a pretty serious blow. It's embarrassing to admit it, because I think it makes me sound like a bandwagon-type, but it's true. Because of this gloom, I found it difficult to get excited about their late-season run, even though by mid-September, they were only 3.5 games out of the wild-card, and had won 14 of 15. I told myself, if they could get past the Cubs on September 12 - 14th, THEN I would get excited.

Hurricane Ike had other plans.

The Astros played only two of those games. In a total fubar, the Astros had to leave Houston early Sunday morning to get to Milwaukee to play two supposed home games with the Cubs at Miller Park. The Astros' owner, Drayton McLane, is as much to blame as Commissioner Bud Selig for the fiasco, but the most galling aspect for the majority of Astros' fans was the response of some Cubs' fans, and a couple of their players. The Astros had left their families in the dark, with no power, no water, and no idea when such services would be returned. Some were not even sure of the amount of damage to their homes, or the safety of their family or friends. Needless to say, they could give a crap about baseball at that point, and they played like it (like crap, that is). Instead of expressing sympathy for the situation, some vocal Cubs fans--as well as Aramis Ramirez and Ryan Dempster--basically said that the Astros were being whiners and crybabies. The fans at Miller (about 24,000, all but about 5 being Cubs fans) actually booed the Astros when they took the field, and at various points throughout the games.

Such self-absorbed arrogance is always startling to me. How difficult would it have been to have said, 'you know, you guys got shafted, and it sucks. Good luck with cleanup, and let's play ball'?

But hey. . .karma's a bitch.

The Astros looked like they had given up on the rest of the season at that point, dropping 5 games in a row. While I completely understood losing to the Cubs, the three losses to the Marlins did nothing to endear the team to many in the fan base. Many wondered if they were whining crybabies, who couldn't man it up enough to get over the Miller Park games. Others wondered if they were Black Soxing it, to protest the owner's handling of the Cubs' series. In any case, it looked like they were in for a dismal finish.

It wasn't quite as dismal as one might have thought. The Astros ended the season 86 - 75, a thirteen-game improvement over 2007 (the final game with the Cubs was not played), and 3.5 games out of the Wild Card. In the last game, the team said goodbye to long-time catcher Brad Ausmus, and for fan appreciation day, had bullpen members manning the entrances.

And so it ends.

The season, of course. But also a phase of my life, as I have decided to not renew my season tickets. While I'm sure I'll take in a few games next year, season tickets no longer seem like a good value. Part of it is the expense of concessions, as well as the expense, and time, and wear-and-tear of traveling three hours back and forth per game. But part of it is that going to games is just not a good entertainment value for me anymore. I can't change teams--that's not the kind of person I am--but I can put less money in Drayton McLane's pockets. I can watch games on TV, and save money on beer, food, gasoline, as well as listening to Brownie and J.D.'s scintillating repartee.

Similarly, it's unlikely I'll keep up with this blog much anymore (not that posting every couple of months can really be considered "keeping up"). I never say "never," but if the motivation to attend games is no longer there. . . yeah, I'm not seeing it.

For those few who have wandered here from time to time, thanks for reading, and accept my best wishes for your baseball team, whichever it may be, and for all the times of your life.