While most of attention regarding the National League Central division during the 2012 season will be on how Milwaukee Brewers handle the potential suspension of Ryan Braun and departure of Prince Fielder; how the Cardinals recover from losing Albert Pujols to the Los Angeles Angels this off-season; and whether or not the Cincinnati Reds can take advantage of the misfortunes of the Cardinals and Brewers. Another storyline that should be added to that list is how the Cubs fare in their first season under President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein and General Manager Jed Hoyer. Despite all those story-lines, there is one storyline that will likely be overlooked by the followers of the National League Central division.
That storyline will be the Houston Astros. Not for anything that the Astros do on the field, but for what the 2012 season signals for the entire Houston Astros franchise. As has been reported since the 0ff-season, 2012 will be the last season that the Astros will be a part of the National League Central division. Starting in 2013, the Houston franchise will be a part of the American League West division and compete against the Los Angeles Angels, the Oakland Athletics, the Seattle Mariners, and Texas Rangers. While the Astro’s move to the American League will bring with it a flurry of changes to the regular season for Major League Baseball, lets not overlook the fact that the Cubs will be seeing less of the Houston Astros starting in 2013. Though with new inter-league rules that are expected to occur with Astros’ switching leagues, it is possible that the Cubs and Astros will have at least one series against each other going forward in 2013.
As part of the Astro’s last season in the National League Central, Fansided’s Climbing Tal’s Hill is doing a farewell series. In this series, the staff members of Climbing Tal’s Hill all bid farewell to Astros’ National League central competition. Climbing Tal’s Hill kicked off their series with the Chicago Cubs, and I had the privilege of collaborating with the Climbing Tal’s Hill staff members in their efforts in saying farewell to the Cubs. Among the topics I discussed was the right field renovations to Wrigley Field; the overblown reaction from Cubs’ fans who wanted Ryne Sanberg as manager; Carlos Marmol, my dream of singing the seventh inning stretch, and various other Cubs’ happenings. Take some time to read the full transcript of the interview.
If it was not for the Astros, the Cubs would have been the worst team in the National League Central last season. So the Astros did save the Cubs from that embarrassment. But when I reflect on the Houston Astros being in the National League Central, I will always remember one thing–or three depending on how you look at it. The thing I will remember of course are the Stinging B’s. When the Astros were at their finest–during early portions of the previous decade–I dreaded seeing Stinging B’s in their lineup. The “Stinging B’s” were of course first baseman Jeff Bagwell, second baseman Craig Biggio, and outfielder Lance Berkman. When those three were in their prime and in the same lineup, it formed a combination that was both respected and feared by the other team’s fan-base.
Out of respect of the Houston Astro’s and their tradition, Cubbies Crib will like to bid farewell to Houston Astros. Hopefully the Cubs and Astros paths cross in October once the Astros become members of the American League.