“Don’t stop, thinking about tomorrow
Don’t stop, it’ll soon be here
It’ll be, better than before
Yesterday’s gone, yesterday’s gone”
… Fleetwood Mac
On the psychological plane, it’s still the same old story, a flight for love and glory, a case of do or die. And, at the rate they are going, in the end, will the fans still love the rebuilding Astros, as time goes by? I guess it all ends up in how things pan out for golden success in the long run, In the meanwhile, the question takes a sharp practical term: If it takes another two to three years to know that the club is moving back into status as a contender, and that may be harder to figure now as the team moves into the American League with its different rules about playing the game of baseball, how many empty seat seasons is the new ownership willing to tolerate on the way back to winning?
Maybe I’m wrong, but I don’t see big crowds flocking to watch the kind of baseball they are now playing at Minute Maid Park for the next two or three years. Neither do I see them bumping the turnstiles much to watch a club that’s been fixed enough to hope for a .500 ball finish. It’s just how we are in this town. Once you get past the hard-core of a few fans who might even show up to watch people like me play, the bulk of Houston fans want to watch winners who are capable of winning now.. That’s what the buzz with the Houston Texans is all about. Fans really are buying into the idea that Houston already has a football team that is capable of reaching the Super Bowl at the end of this season.
In baseball, we can’t stop thinking about tomorrow, but most fans won’t translate that into serious ticket-buting until they are convinced that the team’s tomorrow is at hand this year.
How do the Astros sell their “hang in there” message now and still sell tickets for the balance of 2012 and 2013? Those are the big operational questions. Or should be.
After losing in extras last night in the Nationals@Astros series opener, Houston is now 36-74, .727 – en route to a probable 53-109 finish by season’s end – or a full three games worse than 2011. How does the club get fans to buy season tickets for 2013 on the back of this load?
It won’t be easy – and it will take some great salesmanship. Winning is the only real permanent salesman, but, given the club’s new dedication to long-term success, the marketing pitch is going to have to make an appeal for whatever remains among fans as an appreciation for delayed gratification in this era of microwave lunches and digital social networks.
Good Luck, Astros!