I don’t know if Aaron Booooone plans to continue his playing career in 2010, but if he has decided to hang it up, he might have broadcasting in his future.
Boone has been providing color commentary during the Dodgers-Cardinals National League Division Series on ESPN radio, and on Friday, MLB Network announced Boone will join its team of analysts throughout the postseason.
Boone, Kevin Millar and Carlos Pena will serve as guest analysts on “MLB Tonight,” as the network plans for 100 hours of live postseason coverage throughout October.
First up is Millar, first baseman for the Toronto Blue Jays, who was part of the 2004 Boston Red Sox that won the team’s first World Series in 86 years. He’ll appear on MLB Tonight from Oct. 9-11. Tampa Bay Rays first baseman Pena, who faced the World Champion Philadelphia Phillies in the 2008 World Series, will be on the show October 12 and 13.
Boone, who hit one of the most memorable home runs in postseason history as part of the 2003 New York Yankees, will appear from October 19-21.
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The new FiveSeven Grille in center field at Minute Maid Park is eye-catching with its modern decor and splashy photographs of Jeff Bagwell (Five) and Craig Biggio (Seven), and apparently, these attributes didn’t go unnoticed by the experts.
Earlier this week, the Astros revealed that the Texas Gulf Coast chapter of ASID (American Society of Interior Designers) awarded Houston-based architecture firm Kirksey the First Place Interior Design Award in the hospitality category for the FiveSeven Grille.
The competition was open to licensed interior designers and architects in Houston and the Gulf Coast area, and projects could be located anywhere if they were completed within the last two years.
“The Astros are thrilled with the work that Kirksey did in bringing FiveSeven Grille to life,” said Astros President of Business Operations Pam Gardner. “The design work captures the feel and excitement of a fun, clubby destination, while showcasing Astros’ icons Jeff Bagwell and Craig Biggio in dynamic fashion. It has been a great gathering place on game days and provides a wonderful location for private parties on non-game days.”
The FiveSeven Grille pays homage to Bagwell and Biggio with various photos taken during their tenure with the club that are displayed throughout the restaurant and bar. It is available year-round for private parties and events. For booking information, please call 713-259-8808.
Chris Sampson didn’t get the callup when rosters expanded on Sept. 1, but he had plenty of offseason projects to keep him busy when his season in Round Rock concluded a month ago.
Sampson and former Brewers farmhand Kade Johnson are building a baseball academy in Baytown, which, according to their new web site — http://www.lonestarbat.com — will be opening soon.
The academy offers private baseball and softball lessons, clinics and cage rentals for baseball and softball teams or individual players. It also includes five extra wide 70 foot batting tunnels, an Iron Mike pitching machine, baseball and softball pitching machines, indoor pitching mounds and video analysis.
Getaway day on Sunday was a little different than normal, because nearly half of the players didn’t travel back on the team charter. While we do have a several locals — Michael Bourn, Doug Brocail, Lance Berkman, etc. — most of the players are not from Houston and therefore made their own flight arrangements after the final game of the season at Citi Field.
Of the 33 or so players on the roster, only 17 traveled back to Houston. That made the packing up phase postgame Sunday a little more rushed as players made a quick getaway to catch other commercial flights or personal charters.
There was time, however, for a lot of goodbyes among teammates, and in the minutes immediately following the game, most players walked around and exchanged hugs and handshakes.
One particularly poignant moment occurred after the final out of the game. As the Mets walked off the field, Darin Erstad asked Mets third baseman David Wright to fetch third base and give it to Erstad, who handed it off to Geoff Blum moments after the final out. The players in turn presented it to Aaron Boone inside the clubhouse.
Few, if any, know what Boone has planned for the future. I sense he knows what he’s going to do regarding his career, but he’s keeping it to himself for now. If I had to guess, I would say he’ll probably retire. I thought it was a nice move for manager Dave Clark to start Boone at third base Sunday, which very well could have been Boone’s last game in a Major League uniform.
If Boone wants to play again, I would imagine he’d have to sign a Minor League contract and try to make a team out of Spring Training. I’m not sure he’d want to take that route. The important thing was getting back on the field this year, to prove to himself that he could still play after going through open-heart surgery. I was amazed that he made such a quick comeback and while he didn’t get any hits in the little playing time he did receive, it was a real pleasure to simply watch him play again after everything he went through.
The season is over for the players, but things are just getting started for the front office. Obviously, finding a manager is the club’s top priority. I wouldn’t expect any announcements arriving anytime soon — in fact, if this was done before the start of the world Series I’d be surprised. (After the World Series begins, the Commissioner asks teams not to make any major announcements until it’s over).
As for me, I’ll be continuing with the blog and Twitter throughout the winter, obviously with slightly less frequency. Still, there’s plenty going on in the offseason — Winter Meetings, hot stove rumors, Astroline, caravans and banquets, among other things, and I’ll be there for all of it. I’m also planning to have some fun, starting with traveling to Weir, Miss., to attend the opening of Roy Oswalt’s restaurant “Homeplate Fish and Steakhouse,” which he built from the ground up (with a little help from his friends).
Although it was a disappointing season on the field, it wasn’t all gloom and doom. Wandy Rodriguez had a terrific season and was named by Houston voters as the team’s Pitcher of the Year. Michael Bourn was named Most Valuable Player after an unbelievable breakthrough season both offensively and in the field.
Jeff Fulchino, who didn’t even make the team out of Spring Training, proved to be one of the most stable relief pitchers, and in turn, he was voted Rookie of the Year. Brian Moehler, one of the most professional and dedicated players I’ve ever met, was awarded with the Darryl Kile Award.
On a personal note, thanks to all of you for following me as I documented the Astros through the season. There are many great things about this job, but the best might be that I now have time to interact directly with the fans, both on this blog, Twitter and Facebook, as well as my direct email. Without your participation, this wouldn’t have been much fun. I’d be sitting in the press box saying, “Is anyone even reading this?”
But I always knew you were, so thank you. Here’s to 2010. Talk to you soon.
In the meantime, enjoy one last batch of photos from the final trip of the 2009 season.
Dave Clark addresses the media following the final game in New York.
Tejada talks to reporters about falling one hit short of 200 for the season.
Back in Houston…one last time unloading the equipment truck.
Obviously, players packed up their lockers before the last road trip.
An eerily quiet clubhouse…that’s Brian Moehler on the right, waiting patiently for his equipment bag. Moehler’s having surgery to clean out his knee at 7:30 a.m. Monday.
Sean Berry and Moehler, hoping their bags are on that first shipment.
An empty manager’s office…for now. Who will occupy it in 2010? Stay tuned…
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Back in the old days (10 years ago), I never could remember which train to take to get to Shea Stadium. It’s one of those things where you think you’ve got it memorized, but then in the year that passes between trips, inevitably, it fails to stick in the memory.
Then the 2000 offseason arrived. Braves pitcher John Rocker went on his now famous tirade to Sports Illustrated writer Jeff Pearlman about everything he didn’t like about New York. He was mean, bigoted, fierce…and, turns out, strangely helpful.
Obviously, I’m not condoning Rocker’s behavior, which I found offensive and deplorable, and embarrassing. But he started that famous line of hatred with “Imagine having to take the 7 Train to the ballpark…”
And from then on, I never forgot which train to take to Shea. All thanks to Rocker, who was rightfully booed out of just about every ballpark he appeared in after his tirade and thankfully has been out of baseball for years.
But he did leave one lasting impression, inadvertently so.
Trying to not lose my cell phone and coat while pulling my computer bag behind me was challenging enough, but at the same time, I also attempted to snap a couple of shots of the outside of Citi Field, the brand new home of the New York Mets. You can see MLB.com writer Brian McTaggart and radio announcer Brett Dolan in the shot, and you’ll notice they’re not waiting for me to catch up to them.
Inside, the ballpark is pretty impressive, and not just because anything would be a gigantic upgrade from the eyesore that was the old Shea Stadium. Citi Field has all the charm of a new ballpark — nice field and scoreboard, plush accommodations in the clubhouse and club levels — and overall, I give it a thumbs up, although I’ll spare you my whining about the ridiculous guessing game I had to play trying to get to the press box.
More random shots:
Dave Clark, who hopes to have a shot at the permanent manager’s job once the season ends, chats with pitching coach Dewey Robinson.
Chris Johnson says hello to Steve Sparks, who is filling in for Jim Deshaies in the TV booth this weekend.
I have no idea what Aaron Boooooone was doing in this shot but it always cracks me up that he cannot resist giving some kind of strange pose when there’s a camera around.
Hunter Pence grants a pregame interview to FS Houston’s Greg Lucas.
Roy Oswalt is one of the most bored men on earth right now. It’s one thing to be a starting pitcher with nothing to do for the four days in between starts. It’s quite another to be shut down for the year because of a bad back and having NOTHING to look forward to, other the pending opening of his new steakhouse this fall.
You’ve heard us talk/write plenty about Assistant GM Bobby Heck, who was brought on staff a couple of years ago to take over the Astros’ scouting department. Now you know what he looks like. That’s him on the right, talking to TV announcer Bill Brown.
From the Twitter files:
Why is Blum still starting over Chris Johnson? I can see Tejada over Manzella, he has a shot at 200 hits. But Blum? Really?
I’ll be honest — I have no idea. These days, when I post the lineup on Twitter, I cringe, because I know I’m about to be hit with a stream of responses wondering why the kids aren’t playing.
I understand that Dave Clark wants to give Tejada every chance to reach 200 hits on the year, and I grudgingly agree.
I’m not suggesting Clark bench the veterans indefinitely. But in a three-game series, I see nothing wrong with simply mixing in Tommy Manzella or Chris Johnson or Edwin Maysonet for just a game here and there.
The current regular Astros lineup has contributed to a likely fifth-place finish. I seriously doubt one or two kids are going to mess up that chemistry.
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