You can't fire the owner.
That's been almost a Houston hallmark motto over the past 25 years. They've had some pieces of work come through, both owning the Astros and other professional teams in the Bayou City. From John McMullen to Bud Adams, Houston hasn't been blessed with the most benevolent of owners.
There was a long stretch when I would have counted Drayton McLane in that group. I blamed him for the team trading away Mike Hampton and Carl Everett. I blamed him for not signing Darryl Kile or Randy Johnson. I blamed Billy Wagner and Drayton for what happened between the two of them.
Most of all, I blamed Drayton for chasing off Gerry Hunsicker. I don't care who got the credit in the end. I just knew that Hunsicker was one of those guys that would be hard to replace. Tim Purpura and Ed Wade seem to be showing just how hard that would be.
There were a lot of reasons why I wanted Drayton gone for years. Then 2005 happened and Drayton built up a lot of goodwill with Astros fans. He kept Craig Biggio and Jeff Bagwell around until the ends of their careers. It was a nice cap to his time with the team.
10 years ago, I would have been thrilled that this day finally had come, that a new man was in charge of the Astros. But, apparently, Bud Selig won't let us have nice things...
The day finally comes when a new man is set to buy the Astros, and it's Jim Crane. He of the questionable business dealings and hiring practices. He of the American League switch for a tidy sum of money.
Jim Crane, your first day on the job will not be easy.
This should be a great day, a turning point in the franchise's history. For just the fifth time in nearly 50 years, the team has a new owner. And yet, as Steph Stradley so nicely summed up Sunday, this is not a great day for fans. They've been betrayed by this league switch.
That's the kind of goodwill that will take more than just ticket prices lowering will fix. It'll take more than a uniform switch back to the navy blue and orange of old. It's going to take winning, which starts at the top.
As easy as it was to poke fun at Drayton for his "Champion" comments, there was a definite push to get to that level each year. The problem was, it was a plan with no middle. Step 1: Buy baseball team. Step 2: ???. Step 3: Be a champion.
At least Crane brings the promise that things will change from the very top. If Crane keeps his hands off after putting his management team in place, I'll be thrilled. Let's leave the baseball decisions to the baseball people and forget the Carlos Lee deals or the Miguel Tejada trades. Let's leave the days of ownership mandating a move in the past.
Crane has plenty of tough talk in his opening press conference last week. We learned the team's payroll would stay low. That means any dreams we had of Jose Reyes are gone. Heck, any dreams of Clint Barmes are apparently worthless too.
To me, that practicality of lowering the payroll until revenue increases, of staying away from big ticket free agents until the farm starts producing a solid core of a team, that's what is so encouraging. Yes, it sucks in the short term, but it also shows a recognition of how building a baseball team works.
Tuesday marks Crane's first official day on the job as owner of the Houston Astros. It probably won't be substantially different than Monday. But, at least there's a possibility for change.
After all these years, I'd forgotten that we could hope for that. We can't fire the owner, but we can trade the owner. Now, we have to hope the deal works out better than Brett Wallace for Anthony Gose.