The Houston Astros are a bad baseball team this season. They're beyond bad. They're beyond awful. They're closing in on worst team in MLB history bad. I think most people who observed the moves the club made in the off-season and then watched them in spring knew this would be a bad team. But no one thought they would be this bad.
We'd all like someone to blame for this travesty of a team. Like Ed Wade who put the roster together. Or Brad Mills who is making Cecil Cooper look like a genius. Or maybe Bud Selig who dictated the Cooper hire and is holding up the sale of the team to Jim Crane while he deals with the debacle he created in Los Angeles by pushing through Frank McCourt as the owner. Or Frank McCourt for turning the Dodgers into a ponzi scheme or the Astros fans who have shown up at MMP, no matter what, proving that a winning team doesn't matter. Or Drayton McLane, who hired Wade and Mills, fired Bill Wood, Gerry Hunsicker, Larry Dierker or anybody else who has had a clue as to what they're doing.
But none of those are the reason. The reason is simple. The team has been cursed. And cursed by a former employee.
Imagine you went to work for the Astros in 1979, working the Astrodome scoreboard back when it had the homerun spectacular. Imagine being behind the board, setting off and creating effects that were seen on the limited video screen. Imagine you move over to the video section when the DiamondVision's installed and you become the guy who directs the DiamondVision broadcast, choosing the camera shots, calling for the replays.
You're there for the great 1980 NLCS and the 1986 NLCS. You're with the team when Nolan Ryan is at the height of his game. You're there when fans go ballistic because Alan Ashby is cut from the squad to make room for some kid named Craig Biggio. You're there the season Jeff Bagwell is the best player in baseball. You're there for those glorious few months when Randy Johnson is dominating the National League, and you're there for the disappointments of 1997, 1998, and 1999.
You work those last couple of years with the promise of a new toy dangled in front of you. A new ballpark with state of the art equipment to better showcase the baseball team you love because you're a native Houstonian, and because you've given your heart and soul to this team for 20 years.
The Astros have been cursed due to the actions of Drayton McLane
So you jump through the ropes but you're not hired. You find out that the new guy in charge of the department was told not to hire the people who worked at the Dome. And you find out that there are often games where they don't even have enough employees to man all of the cameras while interns from the marketing department are handling some of the other technical jobs.
Imagine this is you. How would you react? What would you do?
Well, the person in question, the person this happened to, put a curse on the team.
"After being told by NAME REDACTED that he was told not to consider the old employees from the Astrodome I decided on placing a curse on the team," the person in question told me. "I will not give the details of the curse as that can be counteracted."
"The curse is renewed every year. In fact starting in 2004, I added the clause that the better the team does then the harder the bad crash will be. In 2005 the Astros made the World Series, but were swept in defeat. This year I added a 100-game losing season to the mix. I informed one of the Astros' video fulltime people of this at the NCAA tournament this year." He laughed and added, "I hope you are all bluff." Who is laughing now?
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"Funny thing is I love baseball. I like the Astros, but ownership has responsibilities though, and when you treat employees poorly, karma sucks."
I worked with the Astros' video department from the start of the 1988 season through the end of the 2001 season. I worked with the person who set this curse on the team. I sat next to him in the Dome scoreboard booth for many a year, and I know how he felt about the team. And I too received the certified photocopy of the computer-generated memo, but for some reason, I got hired on to work at Enron Field. And I know many people who received that photocopied memo who didn't get rehired, and I know that McLane treated many a person who had been involved with the team for years like utter crap.
My friend says the curse will not be lifted with the transfer of ownership, and he predicts this will be a very bad investment for Jim Crane.
What will lift the curse, if anything? My friend said a personal apology from Drayton McLane will be a good start. But even if he gets that, my friend makes no promises.