CHIPALATTA

All Things Astros and a whole lot more

Crane, McLane lead Houston’s most-despised sportsman list


Well, so much for “…and they lived happily ever after.”

For everyone who thought Jim Crane was in cahoots with Drayton McLane, guess again. Apparently, if they were close or involved in some sort of conspiracy as some have alleged, the honeymoon is over after Crane filed a lawsuit against McLane, Comcast and NBC Universal.

Crane says the Rockets could still be included in the lawsuit.

If you need to catch up on details of the story, check it out here.  Or here.

Another PR battle for Crane, who has struggled time and again with his public image since buying the Astros just two years ago. If free agents were hesitant to come to Houston because of the on-field product, the public image of the off-the-field organization ain’t helping any.

It hasn’t been a good couple of years for Houston sports. So here are some questions to carry the conversation through the weekend.

  • Who is the most despised sports’ figure in Houston? Drayton McLane, Jim Crane, Gary Kubiak, Matt Schaub, Comcast.
  • Which network will the Astros be on in 2014? Fox Sports, Comcast, TBD.
  • Who’s the bad guy in this whole TV deal (choose one only): McLane, Crane, Rockets or Comcast.
  • In 2062, in the 100th year of the organization, how will this period of the Astros’ franchise be remembered?
  • Tough question and I’m guessing I’m setting you up for some zingers, one liners and snappy witticisms, but with Thanksgiving approaching, what are you most grateful for this off-season with the Astros.
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About Chip Bailey

Chip Bailey lives in Colorado Springs, CO, and is an author and former sports editor and sportswriter who has followed the Astros for more than 40 years. A native of Natchitoches, La., Chip enjoys watching baseball at most any level, especially pro and college. Several years ago, he worked as an associate of Pastor John Bosman, who enjoyed giving nick names to his staff. He came up with Chipalatta, and it’s stuck.

34 comments on “Crane, McLane lead Houston’s most-despised sportsman list

  1. Brian_T
    November 22, 2013

    Crane is definitely the most despised. Not only is his team bad, but he won’t let anyone watch.

    “I want TBD!”

    All that said, to me Comcast is the bad guy in the deal. Of course, there’s plenty of blame to go around. I’d give Comcast about 40 percent. Crane about 39.5 percent and the rest is split between the Rockets, McLane and my mother-in-law.

    This period will be remembered as the darkness before the light. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

    I’m grateful for a huge dinner that I’m about to … Oh, crap, who let Japhet Amador in here?!?

    Like

  2. Astro45
    November 23, 2013

    Bud Adams still tops my list, especially if you ask any of his former players. As to the Astros mess – everything in business is negotiable. Crane could have walked away from the TV deal, he could have walked away from moving to the AL, he could have walked away from the entire deal – but chose to sign his name. He also has blocked all deals with any other carrier. For some reason, keeping the Astros off TV is his method to get more money. It is NOT working. He can call all the press conferences he wants, and blame everyone, but in the end, it is obvious he WANTED to buy the Astros and did. Fox Sports works in my neck of the woods, and until this past year, I could watch either the Rangers or Astros. This year only the Rangers.

    Like

    • chipalatta
      November 24, 2013

      I started to include Bud Adams on the list, but elected to keep him out of the discussion a little out of deference to his family and his recent death. That said he certainly would probably appear on a Mount Rushmore of most despised Houston sports figures.

      Like

      • rj1953
        November 25, 2013

        he is my #1 villain

        Like

    • Yeah Buddy
      November 26, 2013

      Once you sell your product for a deep discount, that becomes the going price for your product. If Crane took the lowball offer, fans would be complaining about being locked into a bad TV deal for 20 years. Lose-lose. If Crane hadn’t bought the club, another schmuck would have, and would have been saddled with the same mess. Let me know when bitching fixes it.
      Meanwhile, I see 3 scenarios. 1. Crane buys CSN out and takes the network solo. It will carry games, but not much else. The current studio programs would have to be cut significantly. 2. Crane gets deal dissolved and takes the Astros back to FSN. Fox wanted to keep them (Drayton/Les made the decision to leave for greener pastures) and would probably pay a good price to get them back. With a new FSNH, I see the Rockets following. 3. Crane/Alexander buy out CSN and take the existing product to another network, like Roots. Kills 2 birds with 1 stone… Roots is DirecTV, and they need good programming. That would be a win-win. There are other possibilities, as well.
      Regardless, we should all hope for a good deal. It will be in the best interest of Astros and Rockets fans. If/when the Astros rebuilding works, even most of the most vehement whiners will be coming back for the party.

      Like

  3. tedf1948
    November 23, 2013

    We need to forget the move to the AL, Astro 45, no matter who bought the club, the move was going to happen. Also, its hard to read all of the reports on the court filings and not see that the Comcast deal is a problem. At this point, the Federal Judge appears to side with Crane. Crane is a businessman and there are no owners of any sports franchise that choose to bring their product to the customer at a loss to them. We should not expect that so the TV deal, when reading the reports made public, appear to back Crane up. As for Uncle Drayton, I don’t know if he stepped over the fraud line or not but he better have is ducks in a row when David Bois starts asking questions. Drayton started this mess by buying old used up players and then trying to get rid of veterans to make the buy out easier. He is my villain.

    Like

    • Bo Weaver
      November 23, 2013

      Soothsayer Ted, you might be wrong about the “the AL move was going to happen”. The owner has the exclusive right to reject the move. Period.

      To assume that a staunch and determined Crane rejecting the move for the benefit of his fanbase, or the next potential buyer doing the same, would fail is purely conjecture.

      Did you know that the DBacks owner was approached before Crane was, and he turned down the offer? Next.

      Like

      • tedf1948
        November 23, 2013

        Bo Weaver, I understand what you are saying, but until Crane is allowed to buy the team, per MLB and Selig approval, he is not an owner and has no ability to reject anything. McClaine had the right to reject but not Crane. The approval would not have been given to purchase without the promise to move to the AL. This was earlier reported in the Chronicle. Don’ exactly remember when.

        Like

    • Bo Weaver
      November 23, 2013

      Oh, and why the need for the $70mil bribe? THAT is the reason (greed) that Crane took the bait.

      Like

      • tedf1948
        November 23, 2013

        If I could not purchase without the promise of a move, the $70 million would sooth the medicine going down. Again, the $70 million would never have been offered had not the buyer’s agreement to move been signed.

        Like

      • Yeah Buddy
        November 26, 2013

        When Crane realized (was told) that the deal was a no-go without moving to the AL, he countered that making the move made the franchise less valuable, and MLB and Uncle Drayton agreed. They settled on the $70 million dollar figure. Crane had 2 choices: buy the franchise and complete the move to the AL or not buy the franchise. Next man up would have had the same choice.

        Like

    • Yeah Buddy
      November 26, 2013

      The AL move was discussed by MLB and the Player’s Union many years back, and the Astros were always one of the few teams mentioned as most likely to move. It was headline stuff after the 2005 WS. By everything I have read, the sale of the team was contingent on accepting the move to the AL. If Crane had said no, MLB would have said “have a nice day” and turned down the deal. Who knows… that might have been a sticking point when Drayton tried to sell in 2008. Regardless (and NO, I don’t like it either), it is done. If the unhappy fan base manage in their infinite wisdom to chase the club out of Houston, there won’t be a NL replacement team coming along in a few years. If the NFL can survive without LA, MLB won’t miss Houston.
      If you don’t like the current product, don’t watch. Don’t go. Whine on blogs. Hold your breath and kick your feet. Go buy a Cardinals or Rangers or Yankees cap. Meanwhile, the Astros are rebuilding, just like fans suggested Drayton do in 2007 and 2008, and the future looks pretty bright. The process may not be perfect, but the future is looking good, and I am hopeful.

      Like

  4. tedf1948
    November 23, 2013

    By the way, I saw this morning where Luhnow picked up Peter Moylen. If this is what we can expect by the term “infusing MLB talent”, then it will be another 100-los season.

    Like

    • chipalatta
      November 24, 2013

      It’s a minor league deal and the club hasn’t even acknowledged it on its website. You’ll see plenty of these minor league deals between now and spring training. This is one of those very low-risk, possibly high-reward signings that many clubs will employ to fill out ST rosters.

      Like

  5. Flash
    November 23, 2013

    Easy: Bud Adams

    Like

  6. Bo Weaver
    November 23, 2013

    Bud Adams and Jim Crane both belong in the Hall of Shame. McLane is a greedy bastard too, but at least he could get generous from time-to-time. At least he wanted to bring a championship to Houston. Crane is all about his wallet and ego.

    Like

    • 1oldpro
      November 23, 2013

      This article is a perfect storm for you. Slime just pouring out of every edifice.
      But, it’s okay. Every place I’ve ever worked or played seemed to have someone like you there. The little shark in the fishbowl.
      On a lighter note, Ed Reed has been added to my non-bucket list.

      Like

      • Bo Weaver
        November 24, 2013

        oldpro — truth is that I do not revel in all this. It’s just sad. It’s been sad ever since Crooked Crane took over.

        If you, a long time fan, whose second favorite hobby was to watch the Stros on a near-daily basis, a lover of the NL and who’s been emotionally invested in the division since the old NL West days, if you sincerely believed that the Crane purchase and the move to the AL ruined it all — especially the chance to compete year in and year out, then you’d be sad too.

        How you guys muster up hope for this pathetic display is beyond me.

        There’s no joy in saying “I told you so!”, that is, unless, the franchise comes to financial ruin, and it leads to a new NL franchise one day.

        THAT is what I hope for.

        Like

      • Yeah Buddy
        November 26, 2013

        Bo- of all the possible scenarios one could envision, YOUR scenario of a new NL team in Houston is the one most likely not to happen. Get on with your life.

        Like

  7. Dan P
    November 23, 2013

    Let’s see….
    – Most despised. To me no one will ever surpass Bud Adams, but I know for some this will soon be ancient history and also it is a little more pointless to despise the newly passed away. The Kubiak/Schaub thing is not as much despising the people for being bad people – just performance issues that will be moot next season. Crane and McLane both have their bad points and McLane is beginning to look worse over time.
    – 2014 the Astros will be on ….FoxSports. But don’t bet any money on it.
    – The villain in the TV deal. Somebody named Jim Bob Drayton McCrane? It is apparent that Crane must not have done his due diligence or if he did, that McLane lied about things. I always wondered why McLane agreed to throw $35 million in the pot. I think it is obvious that he knew the TV deal was a house of cards that would have fallen with time. I don’t feel sorry for Crane – I feel sorry for the Astro fans.
    – In 2062, this will be known as the time of the Phoenix. The Astros team crashes and burns for a time, Jim Crane files for bankruptcy and Bo Weaver takes over. The Astros base their team on a ton of good minor leaguers rising to the big club and return to being a significant team.
    – Folks there are a lot of things to be thankful for everyday that the good Lord allows you to be above ground. In the city of Houston that does not include too much on the sports side right now, but things change over time. I’m thankful that we have a lot more talent in the minors getting closer to the big club. And hey we get to grab another #1 pick in May. But I’m very thankful to the folks who stand between me and the bad guys (both domestic and foreign) every day. And my family, friends and blogging buddies and buddettes.

    Like

    • daveb
      November 23, 2013

      Dan, this whole television mess, you’ve got to admit, it does approach preposterous at this point.

      I never liked McLane, Met him twice. immediately felt he was not the genuine article. A slimy, egotistical, baseball ignorant guy behind the veneer. Unlike Crane though, he understood public relations.

      But John McMullen also belongs in the same club. In a city of solid citizens, we’ve sure let a bunch of outsiders come in a muck things up over the years, taking us for dumb hicks.

      Like

    • Dan P
      November 23, 2013

      Totally agree daveb – never saw so many supposedly smart guys look so dumb … Well except for Enron, Obamacare, and every sports strike or shutdown…
      It is a ridiculous mess and I can’t see how Crane could base so much of the value of his offer on something that was so tenuous.

      Like

  8. devin_
    November 24, 2013

    I don’t recall a time where Houston baseball was ever as popular as football in my lifetime. The back-to-back NBA championships and surrounding playoff seasons made basketball also seem to be much more important to the city. Does Crane really seem to be a villain or would it be more accurate to characterize him as a bumbling fool? To be honest, I’m scared of a future that could include MLB running the Astros until a new ownership group is found. I trust Bud Selig about as much as Alex Rodriguez does right now.

    Like

  9. Becky
    November 24, 2013

    Most despised in this order:
    1. Bud Adams
    2. John McMullin
    3. Drayton McClane
    4. Jury is still out…..but Jim Crane might just be next.
    I’m most thankful that my oldest son will NOT have to go back to Afghanistan….
    and for the wonderful doctor that put my back……back together!

    Like

    • Yeah Buddy
      November 27, 2013

      If you like your doctor… (check back after Dec. 1)
      Thanks to your son for his service, and your family for your sacrifice.

      Like

  10. Dan P
    November 24, 2013

    I guess I should point out that Bud Selig is probably Houston’s most despised sports figure – but I know you were talking about people actually part of the Houston scene.

    Like

    • chipalatta
      November 24, 2013

      Dan, understand that Selig has been no friend of Houston, but he has been only the manipulator. I give higher negative marks to those “supposedly smart guys” you referenced above for allowing themselves to be manipulated rather than standing up with a little backbone. And I am — or at least at one point was — a huge McLane fan. To once again employ your terminology, I am indeed a fan a Drayton I.

      Like

  11. Astro45
    November 24, 2013

    I have a tough time understanding the lawsuit(s) from Crane. He bought in 2011. CSN did not kick off for a year. It has been another year. Crane has blocked any carriage deal except Comcast. For his suits to have any legs, there has to be a huge conspiracy to include Comcast, NBC, the Rockets, McLane, etc and maybe Lee Harvey Oswald.. I am not saying the figures were not inflated, but if he had a hint, why not walk away. Didn’t he walk away once before? Just looks like an ego took over the brain.

    Like

    • Bo Weaver
      November 24, 2013

      The suit has no legs. It’s just a smokescreen and excuse for Crane to renege on his promise of a $60mil payroll this season (which has magically become $50mil promise, which is starting to morph into a “higher payroll” promise.)

      I’ll eat my old Stros cap and post on You Tube if the courts find that this was a massive conspiracy to defraud poor Jim Crane. Wait, where is my old Stros cap? Can’t seem to find it. Haven’t worn it for years…

      Like

  12. 1oldpro
    November 25, 2013

    Chip, please. Can we move on from this? Throw something positive at us.
    Becky, I’m glad you like your doctor. That usually means there is relief from pain.

    Like

  13. daveb
    November 25, 2013

    I’m ready to move on also. But just one more thought. What free agent would want to enter into a deal with this dysfunctional operation, even if the dollars beat other offers?

    Like

    • 1oldpro
      November 25, 2013

      Fortunately, in this case we have agents to speak for us.. Let’s take Mr. Choo for example:
      1. He will improve RF
      2. Springer will improve CF
      3. Our 24 yo 3B has a year under his belt.
      4. We had the worst SSs in baseball. There is no place to go but up and Carlos Correa is on the way
      5. Altuve is at 2B AND he is learning to speak Korean.
      6. Pena is gone and Carter is here.
      7. Humber, Wright, Cedeno, Rhiner, Bedard, Edgar and Blackley are gone. How can we not be better on the mound?
      8. We haven’t traded Castro…. yet. so, we still have a catcher.
      9. Carlos Rodon, Rodon, Rodon, Ro…… 10. We can lie to him.

      Like

  14. Becky
    November 25, 2013

    The Cards aren’t waiting to improve THEIR team………but the Astros keep
    signing former Cards players, who have been DFA’d. #whatswrongwiththispicture

    Like

    • BrianT
      November 25, 2013

      I agree. We need to make a move. Everyone says free agents won’t want to sign here, but if you sign one and make a splash, others might follow.

      Like

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This entry was posted on November 22, 2013 by in Astros.
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