McLane, Crane sign the documents, address the media, wait for approval.
Jim Crane still has to wait a couple of months before the Houston Astros are officially his team, so understandably, he was somewhat handcuffed during a joint news conference announcing the pending sale of the Astros on Monday.
There is no doubt the Astros will soon belong to Crane and his investors. But until the process goes through the necessary channels (approval by Major League Baseball and its 29 other owners), the team is still Drayton McLane’s. The official changing of the guard will not happen until sometime in July, most likely.
That didn’t stop select media members on Monday from jumping in full-force with pointed questions that most of the everyday beat writers knew Crane wouldn’t be able to answer, yet. Yes, fans all want to know what the payroll will be moving forward, what Crane’s philosophy is regarding the free agent and trade markets, and what, if anything, he plans to do in the immediate future to try to help the Astros swing the win-loss pendulum to the, well, winning side.
Those are questions that will be addressed soon enough — but not quite yet.
That does not mean, however, that Crane didn’t say anything of substance. Quite the contrary. Some highlights:
“As the new owner of the Astros, I want to let you know I love baseball. I have a couple of messages for Astros fans. First and foremost, the Astros fans come first. You are the customer. Our team will work hard to deliver a superior product and a great experience for the fans. I believe in running a first-class franchise and everything we do will be built around building a championship team. This is a dream come true for me and my partners. Owning the Astros in my hometown and being in business with people I highly respect is all I ever could have wished for.”
On payroll and cost structure:
“We’ve certainly studied it very hard and looked at the economics and we certainly have enough cash available to run the team effectively.”
On his management style:
“I hire the best people, hold them accountable and let them run the business. We’ll help them when we have to make the big decisions but we’ll hold them very accountable, and day to day, they will hold the responsibility to run the business.
Q: Will you take an aggressive approach?
“When you look at our style, we will be smart and spend our money wisely. There’s only a certain amount of money we can spend. We will spend every dollar wisely, We will appreciate every dollar we spend here. Our style is to be smart. It starts with the draft. We need to make sure we’re building a team for the future.”
McLane’s portion of the press conference was, for obvious reasons, reflective, and a little emotional. In many instances he sounded like the same Drayton, mentioning “champion” about a half-dozen times and talking at great lengths about the importance of leadership and making a difference.
“One of the responsibilities of leadership is to hand it down better than you found it,” McLane said. “Find somebody that’s going to be accountable and has the ability to be a champion and be successful.”
McLane recalled a conversation he had with John McMullen when he bought the team in 1992. McMullen told him, ‘I need to warn you. This will totally, completely, change your life. You whole life will be wrapped up in the Houston Astros.”
McLane, already a thriving multi-millionaire with business ventures all over the world, said, ‘That will never happen.’
“Boy,” Drayton said on Monday. “Did I not know what I was talking about. No matter where you go, that’s what people want to talk about — the Houston Astros.”
McLane believes there will be no such learning curve needed with Crane, a former collegiate baseball player and lifelong fan of the game.
“He knows a whole lot more about baseball today than I knew in ’92,” McLane said. “He’s shown that skill and ability and he’s going bring passion and the financial ability to continue to move the Astros forward.”
Images from a busy day at Minute Maid Park: