We've had it. We're done pretending the Dallas Rangers have a loyal, classy fan-base. We're done pretending they have a world-class Baseball Operation just because it's become Texas Baseball heresy to say anything negative about Nolan Ryan, the Strikeout, Fist-Fight, and Hamburger King of Texas. Nolan sold his loyalty to Dallas years ago, so we stole his son. We win.
Astros fans who participated last night in the "Let's Go Rangers!" chants at Minute Maid Park, the Sistine Chapel of Bagwell-Biggiolicism, the Shining City on a Hill in Downtown Houston, should be ashamed of themselves. The State of Texas is in trouble...a battle for its very Baseball Soul is raging in Houston and Arlington, and some Astros fans are oblivious, but the Rangers front office isn't and they're actively using some Houstonians' Astros ambivalence as an opening, trying to re-brand themselves as Texas' Baseball team. This is disgusting, historically ignorant, and we can't let it continue. Walk around Houston or Dallas and you won't see many people wearing any Rangers gear more than 3 or 4 years old. Compare that with the age of Astros gear you see walking around...there's a reason for this, and its clear: we're under attack from Arlington, South Oklahoma. Revisionist Baseball history won't be tolerated anymore.
|Take up arms with these true Astros fans, and Defend Houston!|
In Houston, we revel in our Baseball history, and in Arlington they don't embrace or have a Baseball history. Walk around Minute Maid Park, Union Station, or Texas Avenue and you're inundated with statues and plaques celebrating JR Richard, Jimmy Wynn, Jose Cruuuuz, Cesar Cedeno, Don Wilson, Glenn Davis, Alan Ashby, Jim Deshaies, Craig Reynolds, Mike Scott, Larry Dierker, Joe Niekro, Jeff Bagwell and Craig Biggio. Now walk around the Ballpark at Arlington. You'll look around and see no statues of Pudge, no Juan Gonzales jerseys, no Rafael Palmeiro t-shirts. What you will see is Nolan Ryan, Ian Kinsler, and Josh Hamilton jerseys. Where's the history for this team that has supposedly been a Texas Baseball dynasty for decades? It doesn't exist.
As the Astros have fallen to baseball irrelevance at the Big League level over the last few years, the casual fan-base has slowly eroded. They don't want to keep up with 6 minor-league teams of super-stars like we do, they don't have CSN Houston, but they do get 140 Dallas Rangers games on Fox Sports SW every year. It happens, and as much as it pains us, its fine and its normal, not everyone is a die-hard. What isn't fine, however, is when the casual Astros fan believes that it's normal to switch loyalties based on which way the Big League winds are blowing, and its the die-hard Astros' fans, not Jim Crane or Jeff Luhnow, who can help fix this problem. Crane and Luhnow are doing their part to fix what's broken with the team, but building the fan-base starts with us.
We get discouraged by our interim team, scuttling along until our stars arrive. We forget that we're close to the end of the most extensive and visionary rebuild in Baseball history, and stand idly by while our friends and neighbors trash The Good Guys, OUR Good Guys. We don't protest when Buster Olney says the Astros have no integrity. We don't get a fire in our bellies when our $14 million payroll is the only thing mentioned on Sports Center. We don't respond to people who say "The Astros have always been bad" and "The Astros are going to suck for the next decade." We don't remind them how from 1994-2011 the Astros had the second-best record in the NL. We don't remind them about our proud recent history, about Jeff Bagwell and Craig Biggio, Lance Berkman, Brad Ausmus and Morgan Ensberg. We don't remind them about 2004 and 2005. We don't remind them what it felt like when Chris Burke hit the 18th inning homerun, how you can hear Milo say "It's GONE, it's GONE!" and how it still gives you chills. We don't remind them about the gem Brandon Backe pitched during the FIRST World Series in Texas history. We don't remind them that we're the nations fourth-largest city, the Battle of San Jacinto was fought 16 miles away from Minute Maid Park, and that we never roll over or sell our loyalties to anyone.
We're a year or more from Big League relevance. We're 3 or more years away from a Big League dynasty. In the last 3 years, the Astros have gone from the 27th best Farm System in baseball, to the hands-down best, and that's not a biased opinion, its a Baseball fact. Our top-20 prospect list is stupid, and its going to be even more stacked after the 2014 draft. We've committed to The Luhnow Plan, with all the temporary pain that comes along with it, and we're so close to vindication. Dallas replaced "Rangers" with "Texas" on all of their jerseys, but that doesn't mean they're Texas' Baseball Team. Oklahoma can have them.
We can't be penny-wise and pound-foolish, and we can't let our friends be either. Sure, the Rangers are winning right now, and rooting for a winner feels good, just ask 95% of Dallas residents who are clueless to everything other than "The Rangers are good! The Astros are Bad!" Right beneath the surface, however, the Dallas Rangers organization is selling their future for guys like Matt Garza, while the Houston Astros organization is playing the long game, poised for a run that will make the late 90s through mid 2000s seem like child's play. Jon Daniels had two back-to-back chances to win the World Series, but he failed. Then, Dallas fans and front-office types alike tried to convince the Baseball world that Josh Hamilton, Cliff Lee, CJ Wilson, and Mike Adams leaving Arlington was a good thing. That's called the suspension of disbelief, and the Baseball world is buying the lie. Hello Win Column!
As the Astros start winning, Minute Maid Park will fill up again, Bobby Dynamite will put more miles on his train, and the last few years of pain will vanish with the thrill of watching George Springer, Jon Singleton, Jared Cosart, Mark Appel, Asher Wojo, Lance McCullers, Mike Foltynewicz, Delino DeShields, Carlos Correa, Domingo Santana, Vincent Velasquez, Preston Tucker, Kyle Smith and many, many more. Until then, we've got to keep fighting our frustrations, support the Good Guys, and help stop the erosion of our casual fan-base as their loyalties get taken for a ride north up I-45.
Houstonians are proud, our loyalties aren't for sale, and we will Defend Houston until the end. Being an Astros fan isn't a rational thing. You don't choose it, its your birth right as a Houstonian. It's something inherent, from deep within. It's not logical, it makes no sense, but its the right thing to do. Our inevitable victory will be all the more sweet when the Astros can't be ridiculed or ignored by the Baseball Establishment on ESPN, MLB Network, and in the Commissioner's Office anymore when we start winning with authority on a daily basis. Palmiero was safe, Baggy and Biggio got robbed this year, and during the next World Series game in Houston, the roof will be open or closed based on the temperature, not on the whims of Bud Selig. Count on it.
God Bless 5 & 7