Hey kids, guess what? Drayton McLane is a liar.
I'm not shocked by that. I used to work for the guy. But apparently people at the Houston Chronicle are surprised that Drayton lied to them about trying to sell the team after the 2008 season. A local businessman, Jim Crane, even entered into a handshake deal to purchase the team at that time, but backed out at the last minute. The lying-Drayton bit comes about because, while all of this happening, Drayton denied to the Chron that he was in talks to sell the team.
Now I'm not upset at Drayton about this. In fact, I share Drayton's disappointment that the deal didn't go down. I've been hoping that he would sell the team for years. And the fact is that he has tried to sell the club in the past. He even had the team sold to William Collins back in the mid-`90s, and Collins was going to move the team to Northern Virginia, but Bud Selig stepped in and stopped the deal until a vote could be held on whether or not to build Minute Maid Park. When the vote passed, the deal was off. Of course, Richard Justice forgets all about this deal in his blog post on what a great guy Drayton is because Justice never thought Drayton would ever consider selling a team that he had tried to unload on other occasions. (Justice should be aware of all this seeing as how he was supposedly writing about sports and baseball for the Washington Post when the deal with Collins was happening.)
I'm not here to bust the chops of Drayton McLane. I'm here to denounce Jim Crane. This guy shook hands with Drayton to buy the team. Then he begged off, citing the economy, and he pulled out of the deal. I would understand his trepidation if not for Crane's lie. Because so bad was the economy that Crane, after backing out of the deal with the Astros, then tried to buy the Chicago Cubs and the Texas Rangers. What's wrong? Weren't the Astros good enough for him?
Yes, the team sucks. Yes, the farm system is depleted. Yes, the Astros are stuck with Carlos Lee and Kaz Matsui. Yes, the Cubs and Rangers have better players in the minors and on the major league roster. Yes, the Cubs and Rangers, unlike the Astros, actually seem to have some professionals running the team. And yes, both of those clubs appear to have better futures in front of them than the Astros. So Crane decided to pursue teams that have the chance to win instead of a team that's going to keep losing for the immediate future. But damn. He's a Houstonian. This is his hometown team. He could have saved us from this lying, bumbling, bumpkin of an owner. He could have offered us a bright future.
Instead, Crane told us all to go to hell.
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Now we're stuck with God knows how many more years of Drayton owning the club. Which means more years of bad contracts to the likes of Lee and Matsui -- I currently see the Brandon Lyon deal falling into this category -- as well as making trades for people like Miguel Tejada. Thanks to Crane backing out we're still stuck with a guy who thinks a hill in centerfield is a good idea, and who thinks that fans care more about choo-choo trains, loud music, and a fancy roof than they care about baseball.
Jim Crane could have saved us from all of this. But he reneged and decided to pursue the Cubs and Rangers instead.
Oh, and EPIC FAIL on part of the Chron. This story was broken by MLB.com which mentioned that Crane's bid for the Rangers was in doubt because MLB didn't trust him after he backed out of the deal with Drayton last year. Maybe if the Chron wouldn't have dumped all of those reporters earlier this year, they might have been able to get this story. Also, at some point, those people still left at the Chron are going to have to learn to not take what Drayton says at face value.