September 22, 2008
So Bud Selig tried to make things right with his constituency down in Astroland on Sunday, taking out a full page ad (read it here) in the Houston Chronicle to explain why he relocated two Cubs-Astros games to Milwaukee's Miller Park during Hurricane Ike.
The Astros, as you'll remember, were no-hit by Carlos Zambrano and one-hit by Ted Lilly and Co. in front of thousands of Cubs fans during their brief trip to Milwaukee, effectively changing their "home games" into decided road contests. Since that two-game trip, Houston has gone 2-4, seen their deficit in the NL Wild Card race go from 2.5 games to 4 and haven't stopped voicing their opposition to Selig's decision.
Selig says he "regret(s) the frustration the Astros and their fans felt about playing two games in Milwaukee" and explains the complications of squeezing the games into a shortened end-of-the-season schedule but stops short of apologizing or answering why the the games couldn't be played in non-MLB stadiums that were closer to the Houston area than at "Wrigley North."
Understandably, some of the Astros are still upset, even days after they donned black t-shirts that said "Bud Killed Us" over a picture of Selig. Meanwhile, some enterprising 'Stros fans have taken to selling shirts like the one above.
From the Houston Chronicle:
Lance Berkman: "Major League Baseball has always valued the dollar more than they do the individual, the players and their families. That's illustrated in things like playing through a lightning storm in Chicago (on Aug. 4).
"The most important thing is getting the game in so you don't lose the gate and you don't lose the revenue. That's A-No. 1. And then if in the course of that you can work it around where players aren't affected, that's a distant second. That's one reason why players try to exploit the system to the max because they know they're being treated the same way. That's a sad part of the game."
Doug Brocail: "The thing is we had days at the end of the season that we could have played a single game plus a doubleheader if need be. And to make us go up and play at North Wrigley like we had to on no sleep, it was absolutely ridiculous. If it was New York or Boston, it would have been played at the end of the season.
"I truly believe that, and I think 99.9 percent of our teammates believe that. But no, we're the Houston Astros."
Yikes. With all this acrimony still hanging in the air, Bud might have to move right past the chocolates and flowers and go straight to the new Mercedes in each players driveway as a means of extending an olive branch and making peace.
But even that won't make up for the problematic decision made by Selig. The Houston groundswell against playing in Milwaukee was started long before the two games were even moved there and Selig was plenty aware of it. He made the decision to hold the games there anyway, and now he's rightfully paying the price. Hopefully he'll know better next time.
As for the Astros, though, it's time for them to finally put this behind them, no matter how big they consider the injustice. With just a week left to play, they have some work to do if they're going to pass the Brewers and the Mets for a postseason berth that could help a struggling city.