Friday, March 15, 2013

The profitable Astros and an owner with a tin ear...

Judging from the comments to the ChronBlog run-down of Jim Crane's comments to the Wall Street Journal, (You know, the "private company/give me a check for $10Mil comments) there are a couple of things the general public isn't getting about the current state of the Astros.

The big thing is, yes, the Astros are a private company, but they happen to ply their craft in a public stadium.  This means that the public does have a substantial stake in the team.  What that doesn't mean is that Astros fans should tell Crane how to spend his money, but it does mean that he's at least somewhat obligated to try and build a successful franchise.  Not legally obligated for sure, but in that unwritten way that sports teams are part of the civic fabric.  Where he has no obligation to the fans is to not be an idiot.  Jim Crane comes across, at times, as a grade A idiot in interviews.

Then, there is the fact that, believe it or not, Crane is really not going to need much buy-in from Astros fans for this team to be successful.  I know what you're saying, that he can't make a going concern of it with no ticket sales but I'd argue he's not going to lack for ticket sales, nor do they matter all that much.  What's really important to this team's financial success is the success/failure of Comcast SportsNet: Houston.  If that is a financial success then the Astros will be as well.  Even IF Astros fans decide the team is not worth watching, there are going to be enough games where the stadium is full of Rangers, Yankee, Red Sox, Angels and fans of other teams to keep the Astros in the black.  Anyone ready for Minute Maid Park to be listed as the worst home-field advantage in sports?  Because that's what's getting ready to happen, at least for the next couple of years.  And, with dynamic pricing now a big part of the Astros ticket selling strategy, it's likely they'll make more money on those Houstonians with other allegiances than they will on the hard-core Astros fan anyway.

Whatever the record of the team, this is still (on paper) Major League Baseball.  It will be marketed as such and it really doesn't matter if the Astros are a major league caliber team or not.  What matters is that their opponents will be, on most nights, and that will be enough to keep enough fans streaming through the turnstiles, paying a lot for bad beer and marginal concessions or deciding to tune in and watch on TV at levels sufficient to keep advertising revenue flowing in.

In short: The Astros don't need the Astros fan any longer to make money.  They don't even (really) have to win.  As a matter of fact, the more they lose to opposing teams at home the more those teams are going to come and watch, and be willing to pay ever higher-prices for the privilege of seeing their favorite Nine beat the crap out of the hapless home team.  Financially then it might be the best policy for the Astros to keep losing.

That's a scary thought.

Whistling while Reliant Burns

Given the disastrous start to the Texans free-agency season, you'd think the analysis would be a little more measured than this.

Don't get me wrong, I like Ed Reed as a potential short-term replacement for Glover Quin, but I don't like the roster of wide receivers, I don't like the returning offensive line (and don't give me the "three pro bowl" players crap. The o-line was barely average last year), I don't like the depth at cornerback, I don't like the current linebacker situation, I don't like the special teams at all, I don't like the fact that the Texans are looking at an rapidly aging defensive backfield with no depth, I don't like that Arian Foster has been declining in production every year and I don't like Matt Schaub at quarterback.

It doesn't matter whether or not the Texans have a plan in place or not($$$) if that plan is a bad one. And, despite McClain's obvious fealty to the Texans PR line, whatever plan they claim to have is reactionary at best.

As Houston lawyer, and author of the blog Houston's Clear Thinkers Tom Kirkendall recently reminded me: McClain and the Chron scribes were singing this exact same "everything is OK, these guys know what they're doing" tune right before the disastrous 2-14 season.

I don't think the Texans will go 2-14 next year, but I don't think they're on a path to win the division either. I think Indianapolis now is the front-runner with the Texans battling for Wild Card scraps.  Last year I underestimated how easy their early schedule would be, and figured they'd go 8-8.  They beat that guess by four games, but played sub-.500 ball in the last quarter of the season and the playoffs (1-3 to finish the year and 1-1 in the playoffs)

Next season, although the schedule isn't set, we know who they're playing at home and on the road.

Indianapolis, Jacksonville, Tennessee, Denver, Oakland, St. Louis, Seattle, New England

Indianapolis, Jacksonville, Tennessee, Kansas City, San Diego, Arizona, San Francisco, Baltimore

It's not beyond the pale to see this team finishing 4-4 at home and 5-3 on the road.

That's 9-7, and I'm betting that won't win the division next year.  It might not even make the playoffs.

Monday, March 11, 2013

What Wojnarowski said

The dunk was great, but being willing to stick in there and take one for the team was greater.

Backward culture makes punch line of Brandon King for trying to stop DeAndre Jordan's dunk. Adrian Wojnarkowsi, Yahoo! Sports

Silly chants of POSTER! by local radio sports talkers and idiotic ramblings by various ESPN 'analysts' have the basketball value system upside down.  That's why Jordan will always be a better player than Kobe or LaBron, not because of his dunks or athleticism (although that's what he's remembered best for) but because he did the little things well.

Give me Brandon King on my team over DeAndre Jordan any day of the week.

Golf Boys 2.Oh

A rare case where the sequel is better than the original.

Proceeds from the song go to charity as well so it's a win/win.

Thursday, March 07, 2013

Women's MMA: The result will remain the same.

It doesn't really matter whether or not MMA transgender figher Fallon Fox was born a man or a woman.

Put her in the ring with Rousey and she'll get her arm broken off.

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

In answer to Mr. Harvey's question.

With the 27th pick.....why not Te'o for Texans? Randy Harvey, ($$$)

Answer:  Because he's slow (4.82 in the 40) not near as big as advertised (6'1 1/4 244lbs instead of the 6'2" 255 lb linebacker ND pretended he was) not especially strong, not all that quick or sure of foot (he fell down during the pass rush drill) and his game tape against Alabama (the closest he came in college to playing against NFL level talent) was abysmal.

Next question.