At noon yesterday, the long rumored and speculated-on demise of the Houston Astros baseball season was officially confirmed. Not so surprisingly, approximately five hours later, the long rumored and speculated on demise of the Houston Chronicle as a news-gathering organization was also confirmed.
It was at noon yesterday that the Dallas Morning News reported that Astros catcher Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez was waiving his no-trade clause and had agreed to be traded to the Texas Rangers, the team for which he has spent the majority of his career. In return, the Astros received Matt Nevarez, a right-handed pitcher playing for the Rangers' Class A minor league team. The Astros are also going to receive two players to be named later.
The trade really doesn't mean anything to the Astros in that Pudge hasn't really been much of a contributor with the bat since around the time of the All Star break (though it is kind of funny reading Richard Justice on this since Justice is a huge Brad Ausmus fan and Pudge's numbers are still superior to what Ausmus was putting up). But some of the players are seeing this as a sign that management has given up on competing this season. Roy Oswalt, as usual, seemed to be about the only guy willing to go on the record with the Chron, and he said "I think they're starting to look toward next year."
I don't blame Oswalt for being upset, because it's got to be hard to go from being caught by a Hall of Famer to being caught by career mediocre backups like Humberto Quintero and Chris Coste. But while I don't blame Oswalt, I'm upset for a different reason.
I wish that the Astros would have come to this conclusion back in July. For even back then, there were those of us who knew this team sucked and wouldn't make a run for the playoffs, so we wanted the team to unload the likes of Miguel Tejada, Jose Valverde, Pudge, and Oswalt back before they had to clear the waiver process, and back when it would have been easier to get quality prospects from teams desperate for that one final piece that could put them in the playoffs.
Pudge cleared waivers, but it's doubtful that clubs are going to let the likes of Tejada, Valverde, and Oswalt get through waivers, which could prevent the Astros from making a trade to a team really willing to part with talent for these guys.
And while the Astros season was officially ending, the Chron's reputation was finally being laid to rest at about 5:08 p.m. when it was finally able to confirm that Pudge had been traded, but was not yet able to report the details of the trade.
The Dallas Morning News was able to confirm and report this story a full five hours before the ChronAstros.com had the story posted at 1:14 Central Time. Multiple blogs went up with the story between noon and 1:30. SI.com, ESPN.com, the Sporting News, etc., all had the story posted way before the Chron got around to it.
The front page of Chron.com sports had a picture of Brett Favre, plus several stories on Favre, prominently displayed at 1:25 p.m. yesterday afternoon. There was a Richard Justice blog post on this, but it didn't post until 12:48, and to find it, one had to scroll down past the obtrusive ads.
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At 2:41 p.m., the Chron was reporting that a trade appeared to have been made, but that the Astros wouldn't confirm the trade and that Drayton McLane could not be found. Finally, at 5:08, the Chron was able to report that it had confirmed the trade.
What's funny, and disturbing, is that Astros.com not only confirmed the story, but it did something strange and radical, and instead of trying to hunt down McLane, it instead contacted Pudge Rodriguez who not only confirmed the trade, but offered up his thoughts on returning to the Rangers and on having played for the Astros. And there's also this thing known as Twitter, and over there, one Brian McTaggart of Astros.com was twittering away with tweet after tweet after tweet on the trade.
The death of Chron sports has been rumored since management axed most of the reporting staff way back in March. But it wasn't until yesterday, with news organization after news organization reporting what was happening down the street from Chron headquarters while the Chron discussed Brett Favre, that the demise of that paper's section was properly confirmed.
May both the Astros and Chron sports rest in peace.