MLB, not Hurricane Ike, to blame for Astros unfair treatment
Wednesday, September 17, 2008 2:25:25 AM
Since August 27, the Houston Astros had won 15 out of 16 games, including 6 in a row. The 'Stros were making their annual push for the NL wild card. Then Hurricane Ike struck Texas Friday night. Obviously, the home game against the Cubs had to be postponed, along with Saturday night's game. That was an easy call to make. The hard part was figuring out what to do about it. There was just no place to sandwich those games in before the end of the regular season, which is Sunday, September 28. Then there are two open days that MLB reserves for one game playoffs to decide a wild card. The divisional playoffs begin on Wednesday, October 1 and Thursday, October 2.
The Astros wanted to play the games in Houston. At that point, the dome itself was ok, but the conditions outside were not. Then on Saturday, the roof of the dome was damaged. MLB, in its infinite wisdom, decided to play the games in Milwaukee. It seemed to offer everything: "neutral" site and a dome. (MLB couldn't afford to have the make up games rained out.) But there were two problems. One, Milwaukee isn't exactly neutral. It's 90 miles from Chicago, and 1,272 miles from Houston. Two (and most important), half the Astos's players' families were living through a hurricane with no power and no idea what was going to happen.
Pitcher Brandon Backe spoke for many of the Astros when he told the Houston Chronicle, "I was about 10 minutes from not getting on that plane. I'm here because of my professional responsibility, but I have friends I still haven't heard from." McLane spoke of the hurricane and said that it was "not right to ask the players to leave their family, their friends." Therein lies the unfairness. To ask the Astros to leave their Houston homes and families a day after the hurricane had ravaged the city and was still having an impact is just not right. The problem for the league was TV, what else? Just once, it is time for some professional league to put fairness and people's lives ahead of TV. If the games had to be made up at the end of the season and the schedule for the postseason had to be altered, so what? For once let television actually be there to televise what is instead of defining what is. But like the current tumbling of Wall Street around the gorging of the so-called leaders of business, the business of sports can't refuse the dollar - families and hurricanes be damned.
Thorne goes on to say, "Houston manager Cecil Cooper talked with Selig on Monday and from all reports it was a feisty affair." I'll bet. The Astros went on to lose those two games in Milwaukee by a combined score of 11-1. But then they got to go home and check on their familes and properties, right? Wrong. Try a six game road trip to Miami and Pittsburgh.
At this point, I'm rooting pretty hard for the 'Stros to win the wild card and then get the Cubs in the NLCS. That oughtta be fun.