Dear Mr. Selig,
I'm going to come right out and say it: I'm an Astros fan and have been more my entire life.
I know that is not that considerable. After all, I began watching baseball fervently in the early 1980s when I was finally able to understand the sport. I grew up an Astros fan because my father was an Astros fan from the very beginning.
In fact, he began his life as a St. Louis Cardinals fan. See, you may not know this, but the St. Louis Cardinals were the first organization in the big leagues to embrace the idea of using smaller cities as affiliates. Before that, teams had to purchase players from these independent teams for then-large sums of money.
The affiliate model was a brilliant one. Stars like Stan Musial, Dizzy Dean and Enos Slaughter passed through them.
In 1921, the Cardinals added Houston as one of their affiliates. The Buffs saw Dizzy Dean play for them and all of the Cardinals stars once or twice a year in exhibitions. My father grew up on Cardinals baseball and still counts Stan Musial as his hero. In case your math is a little fuzzy, that means that Houston has been a National League town for 90 years. I know that might not be as long as the Giants, Cubs, Reds or Dodgers, but that is still a long time.
I used to call you the Three Martini Commissioner. Many of your ideas seemed all too similar to the kind a drunk would utter in a bar after he he's had too many.
Most of us forget those stupid ideas when we sober up, but you somehow wrote them all down on cocktail napkins. You have a tied all-star game? Let's ignore 162 games of baseball and let one exhibition game decide home-field advantage.
Interest in the game is down? Let's have the teams from different leagues play each other. That will throw a monkey in the wrench now, won't it?
Of course, when you weren't coming up with half-baked ideas you were burying your head in the sand. More and more players were starting to look like pro wrestlers. Middle infielders were hitting broken-bat home runs to the opposite field. Players' heads and bodies were expanding at alarming rates. Even your beloved Hank Aaron saw his hard-earned record assaulted by one of these cheats.
What did you do? Nothing.
Sure, when the long arm of Congress threatened to lift your anti-trust exemption you jumped into action. Now, you have a testing system that has some teeth. Sure, the MLB Players Association (MLBPA) has some responsibility here, too. You both cared too much about the dollars coming in and less about the integrity of the game.
You say you didn't know. You go right on believing that if it helps you sleep at night.
Yet, all of those are crimes of omission. They are the kind of crimes that are hard to prove because you don't know exactly when you knew what became increasingly obvious.
The latest assault on the Astros is anything but a crime of omission. It is deliberate, it is overt and it stands to remove all the credibility you have left.
First, you allow Jim Crane's name to be dragged publicly through the mud by considering a group of charges that included just about everything except child abuse and the Kennedy assassination.
Then, you come back and say you would be willing to overlook all of that if he will just sign off on a move to the American League. So, you seem to think he is a horrible person but that doesn't matter if he does what you want.
I guess we shouldn't expect any slander charges.
Second, you are willing to overlook that 90 years of history to push a five-team playoff system in each league.
Your Brewers have less than 20 years in the NL and even if we count the Braves, Milwaukee has been an American League city almost as long. The Diamondbacks have been in the NL all of 13 minutes, but that doesn't matter either.
Of course, none of this matters when you have a great playoff system that makes you look like a genius.
You are such a genius because no other professional, amateur or intramural sport uses it. Everyone over the age of four knows you have to have even numbers to make a playoff system work, Bud.
What it must be like to work with you! Do your employees have to sneak into the bathroom every five minutes to cackle at your harebrained schemes? Oh, and have you figured out what to do if it rains during the playoffs yet?
Finally, we have the issue of payment. I've seen money from drug dealers that's going to be cleaner than the money you'll make from moving the Astros to the AL.
So, let me get this straight, you are willing to admit that Jim Crane and his ownership team are going to take a hit, but you still think it is okay to coerce him into making the move. I could just see him in the old days at the car dealership saying, "I know this Ford Pinto is worse than the Mustang you bought, but maybe if I throw in $500 that would be enough to make you forget you are getting an inferior car."
Please do us all a favor and retire now. Don't wait until 2012. Take your money and go. Baseball needs a real commissioner before you do more damage.
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