With 2012 coming to an end, let's kiss this lost year of the Astros goodbye and take a look at what's coming in 2013. The key word is "new," as in new uniforms, new logos, new TV network, new broadcasters, new players, new manager and coaches, and on, and on, and on.
5. Welcome to the American League
The Astros have been a member of the National League since the team's inception. But MLB commissioner Bud Selig and the other owners took advantage of Jim Crane's unseemly past and of Drayton McLane's desperation to sell the team to force the Astros into the American League.
There are some good things resulting from this move: no more douchebag Cubs, Cardinals, and Braves fans; no more pitchers hitting; no more trips to Milwaukee or Pittsburgh. But there are some negatives: douchebag Yankee, Red Sox, and Rangers fans; the designated hitter; road trips to Detroit and Cleveland. But Albert Pujols gets to come back and destroy Astros pitching again. And stop whining about the late night games on the West Coast because the Astros will be playing about the same number of games on the West Coast as they did in the in the 70s and 80s when they were members of the NL West.
4. Back to the Future
The Astros have ditched the dull, boring red and black pinstripe uniforms they've worn since moving into Minute Maid Park. For the 2013 season the Astros are taking a trip back to the team's roots. Kind of.
The uniforms have returned to the blue and orange colors of the old days, though the blue is a bit more of the royal blue than the original. There's a "H" on a star on the cap. There's an orange jersey which is a bit too close to the circus look of the Marlins uniforms, but otherwise, the uniforms are a nice throwback to what the team wore in the 60s and 70s, though it would have been nice to see the return of the shooting star. Jim Crane and company have screwed up a lot of things since taking over, but they got the uniforms right.
3. Who Are These Guys?
Carlos Lee, gone. Wandy Rodriguez, gone. J.A. Happ, gone. Did you have a favorite player on the Astros? The odds are he's gone. General manager Jeff Luhnow is still in the process of remaking the roster. There will be some returning faces: Jose Altuve, Bud Norris, Jed Lowrie, Jason Castro (any of these guys could be traded at any second). But otherwise, most of the guys you've grown to know and loathe are gone.
This is a good thing. The Astros have been an awful, decaying team for several seasons, and Luhnow's trying to build something Astros fans haven't seen in years: a young, athletic, and talented team. Unfortunately, this probably means another year of bad baseball, or maybe two. But maybe this season will be like 1991 and it will lay the groundwork for many good years in the future. Just make sure to buy a program so you'll know who's playing where.
2. And Your Broadcasters Are?
Milo Hamilton supposedly resigned last season, though he's threatening to work a few games from time to time in 2013. Brett Dolan and Dave Raymond, who spent the past several years propping up Hamilton, were let go by the team after the season ended. Jim Deshaies took a promotion and joined the Chicago Cubs. Greg Lucas is gone, and Bill Brown is still deciding about what he wants to do. So as the Astros move to a new league with new players, the familiarity of comforting, intelligent, and humorous broadcasters is gone.
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The replacement voices are not yet known, though the names of Larry Dierker, Alan Ashby, and Morgan Ensberg have been floated out into the ether. But whoever gets the job, it's just not going to be the same. Good luck to whoever has to deal with Milo Hamilton on his guest stints. And whoever takes over for Deshaies, good luck, as those are going to be some tough shoes to fill.
1. What Channel Are These Guys On?
Good luck watching the games on TV because, after years with Fox Sports Net - dating back to the mid-80s when it was still HSE - the Astros have joined with the Rockets and Comcast to form a new Regional Sports Network. This is supposed to result in lots and lots of cash for Jim Crane. The only problem is that the new network can only be found on Comcast.
If you have U-Verse, Dish Network, Direct TV, or just about any other cable system that's not Comcast, then good luck because there hasn't been much progress between these entities and Comcast. And if a semi-decent Rockets team isn't good enough to get Comcast Sports Net Houston on Houston televisions, then there's not much of a chance the Astros will be enough to get the deal done. That might be a good thing since the Astros are rather bad, however. And with the Cubs and WGN being available on just about every cable/satellite system on the planet, you'll still be able to watch Jim Deshaies.