Where does this latest mess rate in baseball history?

added 10/25/2011 by Scott Barzilla

Where can we begin on this whole Jim Crane ownership situation? Well, I'll begin with my own brief public history. I primarily write for hardballchat.com and bleacherreport.com. On both of those networks, I ran with the story that Crane's group was being extorted to switch to the American League. Bleacher Report pulled the article because it was based on bad information.

Maury Brown contacted me via Twitter to tell me my hardballchat article was incorrect. Somehow, Mark Berman had gotten it wrong. A guy in Houston who never gets anything wrong was somehow not credible while Brown (who clearly has an axe to grind) and Richard Justice were pillars of journalism excellence and on top of the real story. Yup, I had just gone down the rabbit hole.

Funny how a scant month later Berman and I were correct. Suddenly, you don't hear much from Maury Brown and Richard Justice hasn't been talking about the deal either. Hey, I kind of like Richard, so I cut him some slack in this instance. He was going with the cover story and there is some reason to do that as a responsible journalist. Yet, when the emperor has no clothes, it's hard to take him seriously. Bud Selig has been nude for quite some time now.

Let me start by being completely fair. I'm sure Jim Crane could play this better, but he hasn't been in a good position from the word go. If he wants to own the team, he has to play along with this game. Drayton McLane has been Drayton McLane. He does a good job of looking out for Drayton McLane and, under the circumstances, I'd probably do something similar. This is about Crane and Selig and who is going blink first.

Furthermore, all Astros employees are in the same boat. They can't comment on the sale or the principle characters in the sale. That means that they really couldn't publicly support any anti-American League movement without possibly costing themselves their jobs. In many ways, I feel sorry for them.

The villain in all of this is one Bud Selig. Selig is willing to hold a franchise hostage, ruin 90 years of city history (the Astros became a Cardinals affiliate in 1921), and ruin a perfectly good playoff system to do something no other organized sport in the world does. The NCAA abandoned the play-in game to its basketball tournament after a few years because it's a bad idea. This is an organization that can't figure out a playoff system and brims over the top with hypocrisy. That should tell you something.

Why does he want a fifth playoff team? It keeps more fans interested in September and MLB has a near monopoly on playoff money anyway. They set the prices and they collect most of the money. Anyway, manufactured drama worked so well for the all-star game and interleague play that he had to try it again. This time it really counts and it really sucks.

I love baseball more than any other sport. I echo both Crash Davis' and Terence Mann's (er J.D. Salinger's) speeches in Bull Durham and Field of Dreams. Many of you are in the same boat. I can only imagine how any baseball fan felt when they heard the World Series had been compromised. I remember how I felt when the World Series had been cancelled in 1994. I also remember when it became apparent that many of the game's stars were juicing and no one in the game seemed to mind (funny how Selig is principally involved in two of these three).

This is somehow sicker than that. This is one man deciding to drag a man's name through the mud and cast a fan base's wishes aside for the sake of a faulty playoff system. This is one man trying to decide how much he is willing to give to that same owner to make this happen. After all that, he is trying to weasel out of paying any money even though this is all his doing. He is simply on a one man crusade to remove all the integrity that the commissioner's office has left.

The office began in such a great place. Judge Kennesaw Mountain Landis had his faults but he knew what to do in the Black Sox case. He collectively whitewashed the whole thing (white wash is an ironic term given his opinion on integration). Who is going to whitewash this situation? It certainly won't be Drayton McLane or Jim Crane. Where is baseball's white knight? Where is its savior?

Much like faith in a church that has so many stains on its soul, I cannot leave baseball. It just isn't in me to do it. I left football for the time the Oilers left town. I can take or leave the Rockets. I can stop watching politics for months at a time, but I cannot stop watching baseball. It is bred into my DNA like a hate for all things Dallas and the University of Texas.

For others, they have seen too many disappointments and betrayals to continue. I'll never criticize what is in a man or woman's heart on this matter. This one cuts deep and some don't want to be cut anymore. That is their decision. I'm married to baseball for better or worse. I just wish the worst would leave and the good times would return. I suppose they'll have to return with the god-forsaken DH.