I feel that I owe an apology to Brett Dolan and Dave Raymond. It took me a few years before I accepted them as members of the Astros radio crew. Mostly that was due to my affection for Alan Ashby, who was unfairly forced out of the booth.
Once I got in tune with them, I liked them. They knew their stuff. When they worked together on road games, they had a really good chemistry and worked well with each other. The home broadcast was another issue, and it was always uncomfortable listening to them force themselves to give way to Milo Hamilton. And I was really looking forward to seeing what they would do when Hamilton was gone.
But we're never going to get the chance to find out.
Yesterday, in the latest in of a seemingly never-ending string of PR blunders, the Astros decided to fire Dolan and Raymond. And with the futures of Bill Brown and Jim Deshaies still up in the air, it's increasingly looking like the Astros have decided the best way to move into a new league is to fire everybody and bring in new people.
"We appreciate the work Brett and Dave have done for us over the past seven seasons and wish them well," George Postolos said in the Houston Chronicle. "We are excited to begin the search for the new radio broadcast team of the Astros and look forward to finding a great talent to succeed Milo."
And while Postolos and Crane and their minions are excited by this move, the question has to be asked: why? Seriously, why? Why all of the continuing efforts to piss off the fans? Why not give the guys a chance to finally own the broadcast after years of having to be second-bananas to the increasingly out-of-touch Hamilton?
"It was a unique situation," Dolan told the Chronicle. "It was hard to establish traction, which I guess is the best word, when you're in a situation where Milo casts such a large shadow and you're rotating in and out of the booth. I knew it would be a challenge. You just hope you can make the best of it. But that run is over."
While this move is mystifying, it makes sense when you consider just how clueless and tone-deaf this club and its marketing, business, and PR people have increasingly become over the past several months. It's like everything good thing done by Jeff Luhnow and the folks on the baseball side has to be countermanded by something that will piss off what few remaining fans the team has left.
There was the erector-set billboard blocking the view in left field. There was inviting people to lunch with Joe Niekro. There's the fact they don't know the players on their own team, as when they tweeted about J.D. Martinez hitting a home run that was actually hit by Fernando Martinez. Or that they tweeted a photo of the lineup several weeks ago with Jed Lowrie batting leadoff but said he was hitting cleanup, then refused to change it though multiple team informed them of the error. There was forcing the players to pimp tickets on their twitter accounts.
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In the end, most Astros fan will accept whatever changes the Astros make, just I accepted Brett and Dave - I never accepted Milo Hamilton, however, who will never be as qualified a broadcaster as Gene Elston. But that's what fans do, they accept, especially if they're going to keep listening to the games.
And it makes you wonder what's next? What happens with Jim Deshaies and Bill Brown? Is Bob Ford, with one of the great PA voices in all of baseball safe, or will he be replaced as the team goes about starting over? Should the ushers start looking for new jobs because they have to be replaced - after all, they too represented the team this season.
I've supported a lot of what Crane has done on the baseball end. Jeff Luhnow's done a tremendous job of stocking the farm. Hell, that guy was actually able to trade Carlos Lee twice in one week. And Luhnow's made what appears to be a lot of smart hires in the front office.
But damn it, for all of the good done by Luhnow, Crane and the idiots working for Crane are just making it hard to be a fan of the Astros. Sure the team's getting new uniforms, and a new logo, and new colors. Sure they're probably dumping that damn train and bulldozing that stupid hill, but that's just cosmetic changes. Changes that don't mean anything, especially when compared with the things that show utter contempt for the fans, like bad billboards and not knowing which former players are dead, or firing two guys who got stuck working with Milo Hamilton and never received a real chance to show what they can do on their own.