The team's throwback jerseys will not match the originals.
The Houston Astros are celebrating the franchise’s 50th anniversary this season and have planned to wear throwback uniforms for Friday home games. I love throwback uniforms. Mainly because most of the throwbacks teams wear are from the 1970s and ’80s, an era I recall fondly.
There were relatively few uniform changes across baseball during the first half century or so, once uniform numbers were introduced. But along came the 1970s and teams began experimenting. The swinging ’70s brought a whole new assortment of colors, styles and flair to uniforms. The hideous White Sox black shorts and shirts with collars were among the worst. As a kid I didn’t mind the Hawaiian softball uniforms the Astros introduced in 1975. Now, I don’t like them so much. The solid red Indians uniforms that Boog Powell once said made him look like a “big blood clot”? Hated ’em.
But no matter how ugly, how crazy and how politically incorrect uniforms and team names of the past seem today, they are a part of baseball history.
So that’s why I am confused and dismayed why baseball and the Astros have decided to alter history. You see, on Fridays this summer in Houston when the Astros show off their throwback uniforms, they won’t limit the fashion to those candy stripes from the ’70s. They’ll also be wearing throwbacks from the franchise’s original name, the Colt .45s. However, the throwbacks version will not represent the original jersey.
Before the Astros became the Astros in 1965 celebrating the city’s association with the space program, the team was the Colt .45s, commonly known as the Colts. As in the gun, not the equine. And the logo on the jersey featured a colt revolver underneath the word Colts with the C swirling as if the gun were smoking.
MLB and the Astros will have us to believe now that the original uniform did not have a gun depicted on the front. That’s right. The Colt .45 has been removed from the jersey.
Now would I want to name my team after a gun these days? No. Am I a fan of any kind of gun imagery? No. But we can’t really revise history, now can we? We can’t refer to the team as the Colts and put a running yearling on the shirt. And just what is the plan for the caps? Will the players wear the authentic caps with the ‘.45s’ emblem?
If MLB and the Astros want to celebrate the history of the team, then celebrate the entire history, warts and all. If not, celebrate the Astros Era and just wear throwbacks from the 1970s and ignore the Colt .45s Era altogether. But altering the authentic logo on the jersey makes no sense. I guess MLB may have to change the “MLB Authentics” apparel line to “Inauthentics.”
A couple of nights ago, I enjoyed the greatest night of my baseball life. Four teams fighting for a playoff berth in four different games, and three of them went into extra innings. Can it get it better than that? Well, if you listen to MLB, it can. But I disagree.
It appears that MLB is determined — for whatever reason — to add a couple of playoff teams, create perpetual interleague play and in so doing, make the DH rule universal.
I understand that the additional playoff teams generate more revenue. But if that is all we’re about here, let’s just have a 30-team postseason tournament in September and October to determine the champion. The team with the best record in each league gets a bye in the first round, and let’s play five rounds of seven-game series.
Of course, that sounds absurd — at least I hope it does to everyone — but where do we draw the compromise between increasing postseason revenue and maintaining the integrity of a true champion?
I submit that we have that compromise now. If anything, we’re too far on the lost integrity side, but maybe that’s just me. I just happen to believe that the truest measure of the best baseball team in any given year is over 162 games, not over 19 postseason games with days off in between.
Am I suggesting that we go back to the days of no divisions and have the two league champions meet in the World Series? No I’m not. While I do believe that is the truest measure of a champion, I understand the drama and suspense of elimination games.
But think about what opening up 2011 to an extra playoff team in each league would have taken from the game? There would not have been the incredible drama Wednesday night. The Yankees and Phillies had already clinched home field advantage. The Rangers, Diamondbacks, Tigers and Rangers had all clinched division titles. And the Red Sox, Rays, Braves and Cardinals would have clinched wild card berths.
You may argue that the drama we witnessed on Wednesday would have remained, but moved to a later night featuring wild card games. Perhaps, but playing to get into the playoffs offers a little more drama than merely playing to advance. And what about the Orioles and Astros? Those teams and their fans were able to witness relevant games for those teams for the first time in months. And while the Houston fans weren’t treated to much drama, Camden Yards was as vibrant as ever Wednesday night. Please don’t take those opportunities away.
No matter how hard executives and networks and websites try, sports just can’t be scripted. You can’t manufacture drama. Whether it’s just two postseason teams or 16, the drama will happen on the field as played out by individuals. Some seasons play out with three or four fantastic divisional races going down to the wire. Some years don’t. This season was one of those where the dramatic line was drawn between the fourth- and fifth-best teams in each league. Next year will be different. But it is never predictable where that line will be drawn.
So please, MLB, don’t mess with the existing playoff structure.
Winners Philadelphia Phillies
After making a run at Carlos Beltran of the Mets, the Phillies acquired Hunter Pence (right) from Houston. It would have been a surprise had the Mets actually dealt with a division rival. It was also surprising that the Phillies focused their efforts on improving their lineup. They must believe getting Brad Lidge back will be enough to deepen their bullpen, which actually had been a strength this season despite being hit hard with injuries.
Strengthened their bullpen with two of the dominant setup men in the game in Mike Adams from San Diego and Koji Uehara from Baltimore. With closer Neftali Feliz set for the ninth inning, Adams and Uehara essential turn Texas games into 6-inning games. In the 95 innings the two have combined to pitch this season, they have 11 strikeouts and only 17 walks with a 1.42 ERA. As the rotation begins to tire, taking pressure off the starters to go deep into games should really bolster the staff. The Texas offense should continue to be no problem. These moves also give the Rangers a better chance to compete with New York and Boston in the playoffs. Right now, the Rangers might be favored in a series with either team.
The Braves traded youngster Jordan Schafer and two Double-AA starters to obtain the MLB steals leader Michael Bourn from Houston. With catcher Brian McCann out for significant time with a rib cage injury, the Braves desperately need to boost their lineup. Chipper Jones should return this week to improve the middle of the order, but Bourn provides a spark at the top of a lineup that will rely more on manufacturing runs. With a pitching staff that keeps the Braves in just about every game, using speed to put pressure on defenses will serve Atlanta well.
It may not be enough to finish off the deal in the AL Central, but acquiring Ubaldo Jimenez was a coup for the upstart Indians. If nothing else, the organization has convinced its fans that it is serious this season. Jimenez, who can be a horse atop the rotation for the stretch drive, is under contract for less than $10 million per season through 2014.
San Francisco Giants
The Giants were able to procure the bat they needed in the middle of their order in Carlos Beltran (right) without giving up multiple players. Blessed with young pitching, the organization felt it could part with Zack Wheeler, a top-50 type prospect currently at the Single-A level.
Suffering through the longest losing streak in franchise history as the trade deadline dawned, the Mariners had a few trading chips and landed lefthander Charlie Furbush and outfielder Casper Wells from the Tigers. Then the M’s received Trayvon Robinson from the Dodgers in a deal that sent Erik Bedard to the Red Sox. Seattle did not have to give up ace Felix Hernandez and improved its organization for the next 3-5 years.
Obviously going nowhere this season, the Orioles parted ways with veteran Derrek Lee and setup man Koji Uehara. In return, the Orioles received Chris Davis, who they believe will be their first baseman of the future and Tommy Hunter, who could become their ace next season. Baltimore now has talented young players at just about every position as well as some young talent in the rotation. The future really is getting brighter in Baltimore.
Having traded or demoted five of the eight Opening Day starters this season, the Astros appear several years from seeing any fruits of their rebuilding efforts. At the same time, there is currently not enough continuity for fans to hang onto. Expect a few more seasons hitting the century mark in losses.
Los Angeles Angels
The Angels don’t exactly have the meat in the lineup or the depth in the bullpen to compete with the Rangers. By standing pat, it’s almost as if the Angels are giving up. Not a great message to fans. In its defense, the organization doesn’t want to do anything to compromise the future to take what could be a long shot to win in 2011.
Long out of the race and burdened with a roster filled with veterans with huge contracts, the Cubs were unable to accelerate any rebuilding process by trading veterans for youngsters. Carlos Zambrano was available, but there were no takers. The only two significant trading chips — Marlon Byrd, who has been injured, and closer Carlos Marmol — apparently weren’t discussed at a high level. The Cubs were able to unload Kosuke Fukudome as a salary dump to the Indians, but received very little in return.
Follow Charlie Miller on Twitter @AthlonCharlie or email him at Charlie.Miller@AthlonSports.com.
Trading prospects for rental players is playing Trade Deadline Roulette
by Charlie Miller
As soon as the dust settled at the All-Star Game, the chatter around the majors turned to trade talk. Who are the buyers and sellers? Fans want to know. This season, with so many close races, the buyers may outnumber the sellers, raising the prices for prized rental players.
But fans should beware, not all trades made for the stretch run work out. And fans of sellers, beware, not all “can’t miss” prospects make it.
Here’s a sampling of history that should put any deadline deals in perspective.