Things are pretty friggin’ bleak in Houston

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The Astros’ biggest fault in the past few years was delaying a necessary rebuild. They put hopes on the Biggio/Bagwell core for too long past its sell date, and then stumbled for a few more years thinking that the likes of Carlos Lee was someone around whom you built a team. In light of that, you knew eventually that things were going to crash hard and a total to-the-foundation tear-down was gonna happen and it was gonna be ugly.

Well, it’s happening. The Astros have lost 23 of 25 games and they’ve been outscored by 75 runs in that time. It’s Astrospocalypse.  And, not surprisingly, that total disaster has carried over to the box office and TV ratings too:

Home attendance, as measured by tickets sold, is averaging less than 20,000 for the last 11 home games since mid-June. At this rate, season attendance will be the worst ever at Minute Maid and the team’s lowest total since the post-strike season of 1995 … Through Tuesday, Astros games on Fox Sports Net Houston had an average Nielsen rating of 1.2 percent (about 26,000 of the market’s 2.1 million TV households), down 25 percent from 2011 and down 71 percent from the 4.1 rating during the World Series run in 2005.

It’ll get better. It has to. But in the meantime, ugly city.

The Baltimore Orioles did not try to get Shohei Ohtani . . . out of principle

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Shohei Ohtani made it pretty clear early in the posting process that he was not going to consider east coast teams. As such, it’s understandable if east coast teams didn’t stop all work in order to put together an Ohtani pitch before he signed with the Angels. The Baltimore Orioles, however, didn’t do so for a somewhat different reason than all of the other also-rans.

Their reason, as explained by general manager Dan Duquette on MLB Network Radio yesterday was “because philosophically we don’t participate on the posting part of it.” Suggesting that, as a matter of policy, they will not even attempt to sign Japanese players via the posting system.

Like I said, that probably didn’t make a hill of beans’ difference when it came to Ohtani, who was unlikely to give the O’s the time of day. I find it really weird, though, that the Orioles would totally reject the idea of signing Japanese players via the posting system on policy grounds. None of their opponents are willing to unilaterally disarm in that fashion, I presume.

More than that, though, why would you make that philosophy public? Don’t you want your rivals to think you’re in competition with them in all facets of the game? Don’t you want your fans to think that you’ll stop at nothing to improve the team?

An odd thing to say for Duquette. I don’t know quite why he’d say such a thing.