Long time gone...

Go Lance Go!

Get'm Roy, Get'm!

Oh, but how we wish that were a cheer, instead of some hard advice. But, the Astros have come to the brick wall; with the talent pool skimmed of any and all available, major league caliber players, and with no prospects flashing brilliance in the depleted minor league system, we can all agree that the time has come for a couple of our heroes to find themselves a better place to play out their final years of glory.

Personally, I have enjoyed the hell out of Lance and Roy for years... Until now. They are among the finest in the game and deserve to play on a squad that has its act together; a team that has a championship on the horizon and only needs a couple of key elements: a switch-hitting bat-out-of-hell, and a fiendishly clever arm that can give opposing batters more looks than they can count.

Yes, we've all had the wish, the hope, the dream, to see these two remain in Astros pin stripes until the day they retire. The city has taken them into its collective consciousness, identifies themselves with Lance's bat, and Roy's arm. We hang what pride we have remaining on those two undisputable reputations. But, things have become desperate in H-town. The juice box attendance has dwindled down to a scattering of faithful; those with enough cash to go ahead and spend their hard earned bucks to watch, no matter how bad it gets.

Would I pull for Lance or Roy even if they were in a Braves or Rangers uni? You bet I would. I'd pull for them the same way I pull for Matt Stafford up in Detroit: not so much for those other teams, but for the pure enjoyment of the individual players, those men who have become what most of us can only dream of; and, once upon a time, they were ours.

Lance has said it himself: "If I were running this thing, I'd trade me in a heartbeat. How else is this franchise going to rebuild itself?"

We can all recall when Lance came up. He was a fresh young whipper-snapper that could run, field and hit from both sides with power. He came up into a franchise poised with veterans like the great Jeff Bagwell and Craig Bigio. There was fine pitching, including the new kid Roy O, who came in during a mid season slump and lifted a sagging team back up. They went to the pinnacle, so close that their fingerprints were practically on the brass plaque of a championship run.

But, like all aging teams, it began to fall away and no one wanted to break it up to start, yet again.

This is the forty-fifth year of Major League Baseball in Houston. A milestone that we would dearly have loved to mark with wins, playoff runs and the sheer excitement of pulling for a winner. That's not going to happen.

Lance, even with his no trade clause, has already said he's ready to go somewhere else, if only to help the team that gave him the opportunity to play in his hometown. Roy, who never wanted to go anyplace else, has to be seeing the same thing on his horizon.

These good ole boys are going to do great things for some great team, I would hope. To watch them languish and fade away in mediocrity is too sad a thing for this die-hard fan to witness.

We can only hope that management uses the opportunity well. We need young arms and heavy bats, plane and simple. The talent is out there. Every year, dozens of fine young men leave the Houston area high school systems to go on to great MLB play. The list of names already out there, playing for somebody else serves as a painful reminder that we often overlook what is right in front of our faces. Obviously, the other teams around the league have scouts squatting down here to pick the fattest grapes right off of our own vine.

There isn't a team out there that's not hungry for another big Texas-sized arm or bat. While we're trying to spend our time developing Dominican talent and Japanese prospects, the new Andy Petites are already in another uniform.

Shouldn't we all (front office and fan base alike) just nod, suck it up and get to work rebuilding?

How easy it must be to forget the lessons that Branch Rickey taught. You build a team with the farm. You spend less, and you keep it working. This state is practically synonymous with power baseball. After all, terms like ‘Texas Leaguer' are used to describe play all around this country. I don't hear any other state mentioned that way.

We are not without talent. Certainly Michael Bourne and Hunter Pence are well on their way to glory. Why are they the lone local products on a Texas team that can't seem to bring in the boys of summer from their own back yard? When you think about it, if the Astros organization could simply pool local talent, then they have even more trade power for that special arm or bat from someplace else.

So, the unthinkable is getting ready to happen. Lance and Roy are left with no choice but to go, leaving their exclusive ‘no-trade' contracts here.

Personally, I don't care where they go. I don't care what uniform they were. I'll pull for them as they punch out the last few years of great baseball that will put them in the hall with the other fine legends of this great American game.

The threads of that championship run are now a long time gone.