It has been announced that Drayton McLane and Jim Crane have reached an agreement on the purchase of the (my) Houston Astros. This sale brings closure to the end of an era that has seen the Astros reach the World Series, and then become the laughing stock of all MLB organizations. (Except maybe Pittsburgh…maybe.) McLane took over the Astros in 1993. While Drayton is leaving this franchise amidst one of it’s lowest points, he also gave Astros fans plenty to be thankful for. While my view on things tends to lean towards the more cynical, I am always, always, always grateful for baseball and what baseball brings to my life. So instead of focusing on where Drayton has left us, I want to thank him for what he brought us during his tenure as owner of the Houston Astros.
Dear Mr. McLane,
I would like to start this letter off by making sure you understand that I am a lifelong Astros fan, who has never known the Astros without you at the helm of their majestic ship. As a fan, I have so much to be thankful for. First, I want to say thanks for keeping the ‘Stros in Houston. I grew up watching this club play in the eighth wonder of the world. Shit, I even had my little baby face blasted up on the jumbotron screen there. Because you made sure to keep the Astros in Houston I was fortunate enough to watch live baseball as a youngster. Needless to say, these experiences at the Astrodome, accompanied by a multitude of other baseball experiences, had a lasting impact on my life. Baseball will forever be my mistress.
Thank you for letting me experience winning baseball. From the age of nine, I was lucky enough to feel what it was like to have a home team that was not only competitive, but was a division winning team, too. Cheering for a team that won six division titles by the time I first started to hit puberty hooked me for life. I am forever grateful for feeling like baseball season never really ended after 162 games in Houston, Texas.
While the majority of Astros fans were against the new, midnight blue and metallic gold uniforms, and open-ended star logo, I am not one of them. This is hands down my favorite Astros uniform of all time. I know, I know, it got rid of the traditional orange, but screw the haters. It brought about not just a new look for the club, but a new attitude as well.
Thank you for the hiring of Gerry Hunsicker. Without him, we might never have seen the Astros reach their full potential.
And where would I be without the Killer B’s? As I matured from a young, innocent kid, I did so alongside the maturation of the two greatest Astros of all time. Craig Biggio and Jeff Bagwell were, and still are, my idols. I know that Derek Bell and Sean Berry were also part of the original Killer B’s, but they did not have the lasting impact on me the way the Bags and Biggio did. Making sure to keep those guys for the entirety of the careers might be one of the greatest punctuation marks on your tenure as owner. It not only showed class, but it showed me that even though a baseball team is a business, and should be run as such, there is still room for human emotions and loyalties amidst contracts and agents.
And let us not forget about the respect you showed Roy and Lance by letting them go. They were as loyal as any guy I have ever seen suit up for the 713. It took a lot of guts to cut ties with those guys I am sure. But, in the end, it is what had to be done. Those guys still had something left in the tank and did not deserve to go down with our ship. Thank you for giving them a chance to chase their championship dreams with another club, again proving that there is room for the human factor in baseball.
Thank you for the 2005 season. Sure it was nice to win a bunch of division titles, but it was a completely new level of stoktitude when we went to the World Series. Especially by way of beating those bastard Cardinals, despite their fucking robot’s best effort. I wear my Astros hat with the World Series badge proudly out here in the wild west of New Mexico. I may not be handy with steal when it comes to shit-talkin’ Astros haters, but I have more than earned my keep as a loyal fan. Without 2005, I might be more depressed with where we are currently as an organization. Honestly, I might have mutated into a Houston form of a Cubs fan. But I didn’t. And I have you to thank for that.
Now this next item may register as absurd to some, but I want to thank you for making the team, and organization as a whole, what it is today. Dogshit. Without our present situation, I would not be able to truly reflect on how amazing the ride was in the 90s and 2000s. Without this present moment of total fucktitude, I would not have been afforded the opportunity to test my true loyalty to the Astros. See, it is easy to be a fan in 2005. Nothing about being an Astros fan in 2011 can be classified as easy. I thank you for the opportunity to embrace what once was, what currently is, and what hopefully will be, all at the same time, from the depths of a cellar. It has allowed me to gain real perspective on what it means to be a true, lifelong fan. On a small side note, thank you for trading for Mark Melancon. I was fortunate enough to play with him at the University of Arizona in 2004 and it is really cool to now cheer for him as a big leaguer playing for my home team.
I am sure that there are plenty of other reasons to thank you Mr. McLane (Randy Johnson, Roger Clemens, Andy Pettite, and a new stadium even though the Astrodome was cooler, to name a few.), but to me, these are the highlights of all you did for me as a fan. You brought me greatness from the get-go. You brought me to the edge of ultimate success, allowing me to know and feel what it is like before you summit the mountain that is the World Series. You brought me back to reality and even further south of that with your refusal to use the draft to your advantage. Again, I am not mad at this, as it has allowed me to gain some perspective. And with recent moves, you have at least given the Astros fans something that resembles hope. With guys like Hunter Pence, Michael Bourn, Wandy Rodriguez, and Bud Norris, there is actually a light at the end of the tunnel. Albeit a very distant light, even the briefest moment of its flickering flame is something worth cherishing.
So, thank you, Mr. Drayton McLane. Thank you for all you have done for not just the Astros, and not just me, but Astros fans across the country and around the globe. It has been one hell of a rollercoaster ride that has seen us tour through both the peaks and valleys that are Major League Baseball. Some might say that you have left a sour taste in their mouth as a fan. They might also accuse you of leaving the club at it’s lowest point. I disagree. You have given the club a new starting point, with nowhere to go but up. You are not deserting the team, but rather you have realized that now is the time for a fresh face. A fresh face that can lead this franchise back to where you once took it. Back to where no other owner has ever taken the Astros, and then further…to Titletown.
Thank you, Mr. McLane, for giving me a reason to be a baseball fan. Thank you for giving me the Houston Astros, as I know them.