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How Crane Can Be a Houston Hero

April 12, 2012

Petco Park: Home of the Future American League San Diego Padres???

Note: The following comes from Bob Hulsey, the talented writer whose work is most often found at To be clear, he has not lent his support specifically to the Crane-cott. However, here, he offers a new brainstorm for “how,” and to some degree “why,” Jim Crane could instantaneously restore fan confidence and the fan financial support that goes with it. Is he serious? He says he is. It’s an amusing idea, regardless; that is, as long as your name isn’t Nolan Ryan.

There are a lot of people unhappy with how Jim Crane became the owner of the Houston Astros. Most aren’t unhappy that Crane and his group wanted to buy the Astros. They’re unhappy that he agreed to switch the ballclub to the American League, beginning next year.

That’s a decision Crane claims he had no choice but to accept and, when he agreed to buy the club from Drayton McLane, there was no hint that this was going to be his fate. I’ll take Crane at his word that he was happy about buying a National League team. Ever since the switch became official, Crane has been excoriated on this site and elsewhere for “selling out” 50 years of National League history and a segment of Astros fans.

There’s no way to know for sure why attendance at Astros games was down this week but some will say that the league change is part of the reason. Some will blame it on last year’s losing team and the lack of star talent.

(There are some who claim that attendance is not really down at all; that it’s just the way the numbers are recalculated sort of like the way the national unemployment rate is calculated. America is not really out of work and Houstonians really are showing up to watch the Astros. Yeah, if you say so.)

But the Lord moves in mysterious ways and it’s possible He has just put a huge gift in Crane’s lap if he’s bold enough to take advantage. The Los Angeles Dodgers just got sold for more than a winning Mega Millions ticket and that has caused San Diego owner John Moores (a Houstonian) to put the San Diego Padres up for sale. Moores has retained Steve Greenberg and John Moag to find prospective buyers.

Sound familiar?

Greenberg was the guy McLane hired to find a buyer for the Astros which is how Crane’s group became the front-runner for the sale.

When a front-runner is announced, Crane should be all over it, suggesting the Padres be switched to the AL instead of the Astros. He should even offer the Padres’ new owner the $70 million he allegedly agreed to as a condition for switching the Astros. It will be public relations gold if he appears sincere.

Although the Padres have 43 years as a National League franchise themselves*, I don’t think Padre fans will care the way many Astros fans do and they won’t feel so offended that arms were twisted to extort (thanks, Lance) their cooperation the way Houston fans feel was done to them. If the switch is promoted as a condition of sale, it will seem kosher to many….

* Worthy of noting that, unlike the city of Houston which as been affiliated with the National League for all of its nearly-100 baseball years, the city of San Diego was affiliated with the American League through most of its Pacific Coast League years.

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