Drayton McLane visited with Milo Hamilton during Saturday's game against the San Diego Padres. As is usual whenever Milo's in the booth, it was already impossible to know what was actually happening during the game because Milo doesn't believe in talking about the events occurring on the field. But it was worse than normal because Drayton was visiting.
Drayton's never really demonstrated a great understanding of baseball. How else can one explain the signings of Carlos Lee, Kaz Matsui and Brandon Lyon, or the hiring of Cecil Cooper or Ed Wade? But whenever Drayton's in the booth with Milo, Drayton's ignorance is amplified, and the frustration of any true Astros fan trying to find out what's happening in the game grows equal to that of people who tune into ESPN SportsCenter with the hope of actually getting some game scores.
The topic of the day had nothing to do with the actual game being played on the field -- if pressed, it's doubtful that either Drayton or Milo would have even known who the Astros were playing. Instead, they were talking about how great it was to come out to the ballpark and watch that brand-new big ass video screen/scoreboard in right field.
Apparently, from what was said, the only reason to actually come to a game is the scoreboard, and the reason the MMP experience has been so horrible the past several seasons was because of the antiquated, out-of-date video/scoreboard used in seasons past.
Now one could argue, and rightly so, that the reason the MMP experience has been so awful the past several seasons has nothing to do with the video/scoreboards. One would be awarded points for responding that the awfulness has more to do with the overall tackiness of the place, the blaring sound effects and music, the nonstop placement of advertising throughout the place. One could also argue that the outrageous concession prices make going to MMP an awful experience.
And then there's the simple fact that the product on the field has been downright awful. Pittsburgh Pirates-type awful. When it hasn't been awful, it's been boring. And for a person buying a ticket, there's nothing worse than boring.
But no, according to Drayton and Milo, the problem has been an inadequate video/scoreboard. That, so they said, is the reason the baseball experience at Wrigley Field is so damn bad. There are no replays at Wrigley Field. There are no stupid quizzes or videos. One just has to watch baseball. And that makes for a miserable baseball experience according to the Drayton/Milo brain trust.
The Chicago Cubs are known for putting an awful product out on the field from time to time. But the lack of a video board at Wrigley Field does not make for an awful baseball experience, and Drayton should know this. After all, Drayton McLane, a man who has never had an original idea, ripped off lots of Wrigley Field when designing MMP, like that hand-operated scoreboard in left field, the ivy in centerfield, the bad seats, and watching the game from a rooftop across the street.
The recent Drayton/Milo Show says more than anything else could about the problems with the Astros. Drayton thinks the key to the ballpark experience is a video/scoreboard, and Milo thinks listeners are more interested in his lunch schedule than the game. The baseball is secondary to everything else, and as long as the baseball is secondary, then the product on the field is going to suck, and the ballpark experience is going to continue to suck as long as the product on the field sucks, new video board or no new video board.
Those hoping the sale of the team would help things might be in for a long wait. It's been reported that a sale to Houston-area businessman Jim Crane is imminent. But apparently, Crane's got a bit of a history with racial and sexual bigotry, and this, according to recent reports, is causing the rest of the MLB owners, who must approve of the sale, to question whether he should be allowed into their group.
So for the foreseeable future, the Astros will continue to be hamstrung by the fact that they are owned by a guy who doesn't understand or like baseball. The awful ballpark experience can be improved by one thing. And a new scoreboard isn't that solution. A better product on the field is.
But until that happens, there's always the Drayton and Milo show on the radio. The bad news is that you won't know what's happening during the game. The good news, however, is that you won't actually learn about what's happening during the game.