Astros offseason: Houston baseball isn't dead

Bob Levey

The acquisitions of Dexter Fowler, Scott Feldman, and Chad Qualls prove fans are hungry for something, anything exciting

Over the course of the last few years, the "faithful" fans of the Houston Astros have been vastly dwindling. In 2013, 1,651,883 fans walked through the turnstiles at Minute Maid Park. It seems like only yesterday when 3,020,405 fans packed the stadium over the course of the season and was a top-ten team in attendance figures. Oh, that was 2007? Where has the time gone? Well, simply put, the fans want results and since that year, there hasn't been any to talk about.

The Astros have now had three consecutive 100 loss seasons, and last year there were too many green, empty seats on television (for those who did get it on TV) for everybody to notice. It was actually quite embarrassing when you can flip to Fox Sports Southwest two stations down and see the Ballpark in Arlington almost filled to capacity. Some Houston area Academy stores now sell more Rangers gear than Astros. Fans walking around town still wear their blue "Hamilton" shirts as if they have been a fan of the Dallas team for years. Many, if not most Astro fans that are still true to their team can't even see the team on a nightly basis due to the Comcast debacle which is increasingly hurting the teams ability to attract fans. The Houston Astros lately have been nothing but a joke for the national media, and for the fans who jumped ship not long ago. The last time Astro fans were legitimately pumped about anything was the final score on Opening Day last year, after Rick Ankiel put the final nail in the Rangers coffin smacking a three-run home run and sending the fans home ecstatic. Since then, it has been nothing but a giant Astro bashing session. That is, until Tuesday, December 3rd, 2013.

On Tuesday, the Astros acquired center fielder Dexter Fowler from the Colorado Rockies in exchange for outfielder Brandon Barnes and starting pitcher Jordan Lyles. Dexter Fowler is not a world beater, but he is an exciting major league baseball player, something fans have been dying to fix their eyes on for some time now and is a name many baseball fans should know. The Houston Texans are in the midst of a miserable 2-11 season and seemingly people want to talk Astros baseball on radio shows and blogs like ours. This week, the Twitter world has been blowing up about Astros moves and speculation of what possibly could be next and people who understand what the Astros are doing are overwhelmingly excited about the success this team will have in the near future. For the first time since March 31st, 2013, fans are actually excited about Astros baseball.

General Manager Jeff Luhnow did not stop with Fowler, as on Friday he went out and spent $30 million dollars on starting pitcher Scott Feldman and $6 million on ex Astro reliever Chad Qualls. Feldman and Qualls, like Fowler, are not the sexy names people attract to, but they are very good major league pitchers and guys young players can lean on throughout the course of a 162 game schedule. Fans are actually very excited with the Feldman and Qualls signings simply because it symbolizes that the Astros are trying. It appears the front office is not just going to sit back and allow another 100 loss season pass us by. There is a complete 180 degree turn in fan excitement going into 2014 than there was heading into 2013, and it is only December. Luhnow claims he still has more deals to make and he will improve the bullpen which is the biggest area of need above all else. With the likes of George Springer and Jonathan Singleton who will be wearing major league uniforms at some point next year, along with a few free agent signings, expect the Astros to see a little bit of improvement in the attendance column.

If fans are pumped to go to Minute Maid Park next season after the Astros acquired Dexter Fowler, Scott Feldman and Chad Qualls, can you imagine when this team is a contender year in and year out? These three players alone prove that Houston baseball is not dead, and this city is starving for some excitement.

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