Explaining why Crane is the ultimate gatekeeper and thus villain in this drama can be exhausting because some fundamentals of that discussion, particularly By-Law 2(b-5), aren’t readily known by the public. So, several words end up being used just to provide background. A recent conversation yielded this fairly succinct way of conveying the essentials. Perhaps others will find it useful…
Do you accept that baseball is a business? And, if a business, that decisions would have been made according to what was most financially rewarding?
Assuming you do, then there is no getting around the fact that had Crane and McLane locked arms and required Selig to abide by By-Law 2-b5, the Astros would NOT be moving to the American League: “no club may be moved to a different division or League without its consent.”
That is, McLane had no compelling reason to allow the franchise under his ownership to be moved, and thus have to sell the team at a lower sales price. Crane, also, had no compelling reason; that is, until the devious Mr. Selig put on the table some serious hush money. And “hushed,” Mr. Crane has been.
The common response has been, “But Selig would have just moved on to the next group trying to buy the Astros.”
That opinion is confounded by not one, not two, but three major faults.
One, that Selig had a deadline to meet–he had to get the CBA done this off-season, and as early as possible. There simply was not enough time for McLane to identify a new owner and get the CBA done.
Second, that by all accounts, Crane’s bid was far beyond any runner-up. So what? As the CEO of baseball, the last thing the Commish wants to be doing is ensuring that the latest sales price on a top-10-market franchise is significantly suppressed, since that has impact on the valuation of other clubs.
Finally, no one can argue that Crane had an opportunity on his own, after MLB had publicly approved him as the owner, to take a stand. The official paperwork was not signed until the next week.
Because Crane was extended on his credit to the max, it appears that it was more important to him to obtain the tens-of-millions discount on his purchase, even if it meant sacrificing the historical identity of the franchise and the devotion of the fan base.
He’s the owner. That’s a choice he, obviously, gets to make.
But to his dismay, he will learn… we, too, have a choice.
And many of us refuse to be sheep, beholden to the Crane franchise just because of geography and our lifelong history.
Some may stumble upon this website as the result of the prompting of a friend or family member, and wonder, “What’s motivating Astros fans (and now, ex-Astros fans) to feel so offended?”
Once upon a time…
My mom was forced into marrying a guy who turned the family’s world upside down. He moved the family to a different area of the world, without any clear sense that he gave us or my mom any input into the decision. And it was particularly suspicious since it’s known that he’s profited, not just millions, but tens of millions by doing so. To say he had no choice in the move makes one wonder why the authority paying him to move rewarded him so handsomely without actually having any incentive to give him one red cent.
Since that happened, not only has his extremely brief explanation left gaping holes that made no sense (such as the one just posited), but he’s palpably tried to suppress anything further being said, under the pretense that he only wants to be forward-looking and as-if we all ought to just embrace him anyway.
Heck, we’re not even sure he’s in love with our mom… all that we’ve ever known is that he’d had a lifelong love of our mom’s biggest rival, but she never was available. He proposed to two others, but was rejected. Our mom turned out to be his easiest target. On the wedding day, and since then, he has only spoken of her in the very cold terms that affirm this was/is a business relationship, not a romantic one.
I’ve visited this new area of the world where he’s taking the family, and I’ve been repulsed by the quality of life there. And I am old enough that I recognize that I have a choice in the matter, and to refuse to go with him and support him.
Some of my sibs are staying in the household regardless. They feel like they have no choice. They love their mom, even though she’ll always necessarily be his to do with as he chooses, and they’re left to accept it. I understand that love, and so, it’s been easy to give up quickly in reasoning with them about the whole situation. Emotions run very deep, and no one’s going to be persuaded otherwise when their emotions demand a predetermined conclusion.
More galling, though, is that by sticking around, they’re actively financially supporting the household, giving him a pass, and as a result, only helping the step-dad add to his wealth while exponentially reinforcing the disrespectful mentality that he entered the marriage with–that they’re all pushovers, not only willing to overlook any offense, but who will even admonish other siblings who would dare call the new step-dad into question; and moreover, that the family’s memories and history in our former residence is inferior, and to be readily brushed off as inconsequential.
It’s frustrating to watch. And justice takes a blow to the crotch to the degree that we just ignore the step-dad’s offenses against the family.
….Returning to the real world, of course, context demands that we recognize that this isn’t a family.
No. It’s entertainment. It’s a consumer choice. Free enterprise. In the same way that it was a business decision that Crane made to allow this to happen, it is a business decision for me to make to respond as I see fit. Bearing that in mind, the fact that any of us choose to not align ourselves any longer with the Crane form of entertainment, does not have anything to do with the degree to which any of us is a loyal person.
Jim Crane is counting on fans giving-in to their strong emotional ties to what used to be our team, though now taken over by his investors group. And some will do so just by virtue of whoever he happens to hire for his GM. Others will do so when the day comes that the team wins again, just as Crane has publicly predicted.
This site is for those of us who will not; whose New Year’s resolution has already begun to take shape.
Those of us frustrated that the Houston “sports journalism” (and I suddenly have to begin using that term loosely) corp is in his back pocket, having decided to fall in-line behind the Chron’s Richard Justice, evidently believing it not in their best interests to pose the most obvious questions that confound his assertions…
Those of us who believe that if you allow someone with that degree of authority and resources and lack of respect for what you’ve held dear to bulldoze you in this instance, you can only expect more of the same as it suits his own financial purposes…
Those of us who believe in principle, and that if Crane and MLB estimate $70 million in losses due to fans’ repugnance, then true justice doesn’t even begin to occur until we exact $70 million and $1 from this incident…
And, those of us who believe that the best way to work toward that justice is to simply make different choices as consumers–from not buying tickets, to not watching games, to not patronizing a select number of businesses who choose to include Astros promotions prominently in their marketing plans.
On November 16, the Houston Chronicle’s Richard Justice provided Jim Crane with an early Christmas present. It was titled Cut Crane Some Slack Since AL Move Was Forced On Him.
And so began the sweep-it-under-the-rug campaign. No critical questions need be asked. Richard Justice had proclaimed to the masses what they, in truth, would prefer to believe anyway. (What generally-good-natured person, after all, actually wants to acquire information that would compel them to not like the new owner of the baseball team they’ve supported for years?) And while the typical hardcore Astros fan knows better than to accept what Richard Justice considers to be a truism, the masses simply do not.
Justice’s motivation for conveying this kindness on Crane would seem obvious: Under the previous regime, RJ believed he had special access like no other Houston media person; it only goes to reason that he would, early on, develop some quid pro quo with the new guy.
So, will Justice/Crane be successful? I think there’s a pretty good chance that they will be. While the hardcore Astros fans have spoken out in a big way, voicing their displeasure, most fans are not hardcore.
They’re casual fans. And nothing against casual fans–intuitively, they constitute the majority of ticket buyers, after all. But they simply do not have the same investment, and no basis for critical thought to test what a person like Richard Justice tells them. MLB by-laws, collective bargaining agreements, and what would constitute a high or low bid on a baseball franchise do not interest them.
And really, who can blame them?
Neither Richard Justice nor anyone else in the Houston media core are talking about the inconsistencies in the Justice/Crane alibi, let alone asking any of the salient questions that would serve to resolve them.
So, it appears this morning that Jim Crane now has had his full welcome party from the Houston media, having invited them to observe his move into his new office. And the script that began with the press conference continued: Crane repeated his intention to resist volunteering any information about how the AL move decision transpired.
Perhaps, it was appropriate that all discussions with Crane to this point have been cordial, but one begins to wonder at this point whether the Houston media is just that intimidated by the new CEO of Houston baseball.
Indeed… at what point will these obvious questions be raised that explore just how complicit with Selig he was, and applying normal journalistic skepticism to Jim Crane’s assertions that he had no choice in the matter? Who will be the journalist who will step forward and clear up the obfuscation?
To the uninitiated, there are certain facts we know that it appears Crane will seek to dismiss under his cover of “being forward-looking,” such as:
(a) By-laws that state no move across league or, even, division boundaries can be made w/o the consent of the owner;
(b) That Crane’s premium bid would logically have made Selig dis-inclined from turning Crane down short of actual overwhelming EEOC concerns;
(c) That the CBA situation made it very plausible for him (or in the case that he were turned down, Drayton) to simply wait out Selig–i.e., whether Selig turned Crane down, or for that matter, if Crane refused to go to the AL and turned Selig down, Selig’s dilemma would have remained intact, with the only alternatives to shelve 15/15 or go to Plan B;
(d) That Drayton would have been similarly dis-inclined from moving the team himself since, again, if he were to just wait-out Selig, he could sell his NL franchise at a higher price than he could an AL franchise.
(e) That we would expect that a successful business person like Jim Crane would recognize the leverage he had in relation to Selig’s leverage, and that ultimately, Selig could not make this occur without Crane’s cooperation; and,
(f) If that were not the case, it begs explanation for why the person with the supposedly-greater leverage (Selig) worked out a $65-70 million compensation package for the person who supposedly had lesser (?); if one assumes that Selig is not running a charity, shouldn’t we account for the logic of handing over so many millions of dollars?
It will be interesting over the coming days if any of this changes. Will Crane be able to execute his “no looking back” strategy, or will someone step up to ask these lingering substantive questions.
Particularly in light of many fans indicating their determination to abandon the franchise after decades of support, and/or to participate in boycotts against the Crane franchise and businesses friendly to his franchise, it would seem egregiously curious if they do not.
Crane Strategy: Explain Nothing, Apologize for Nothing, Count on Wins and Short Memories to Put NL in Rear-View
Crane quotes from KHOU-TV, and the Stuart, FL newspaper (home to Jim Crane’s golf club)… the disingenuous nature of the first quote is notable, and then the others send a clear message of “they’re a little upset with it for now, but they’ll get over it.” Perhaps I’m jaded at this point, but to me, there is an implicit condescension here, disregarding Astros fans’ roots in our NL history and any aversion to the DH game:
“My partners and I are extremely excited,” Crane said. “We want to thank everyone – especially the fans – for all their support and kind words…
Crane thinks fans will eventually accept the switch.
“The fans are key, they’re buying the tickets,” Crane said. “Over the long period of time, you can make a lot of arguments that the AL won’t be that bad. It does have some positives, and we understand the issues with that. We’re not going to try to look back, we’re going to try to look forward.
“When we get the team turned around and we start winning,” he said, “hopefully, that will be in the rear-view mirror.”
Q: How do you sell American League baseball to Astros’ fans?
A: They have had the NL for 50 years, so they are a little upset with it. I think baseball is baseball, and while there is a little difference with things like the DH, if we put a good product out there I think they will soon forget that, will come to the games and support the team as they always have.