Visiting with future SEALs and a former catcher, and some draft talk too.
For the second year in a row, the Astros were invited to visit the Navy SEAL training facility, located at the Naval Special Warfare Training Center in Coronado, CA.
It’s always a privilege to take a behind-the-scenes tour of the facility, but considering the SEALs’ role in recent events involving Osama bin Laden, this visit was obviously a little more meaningful.
BUD/S (Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL) training involves five weeks of Indoctrination and Pre-Training, followed by three phases of training. Included in the first phase is Hell Week, a grueling 5 1/2 days that weeds out those who will make it through the program and those who will not.
I cannot wrap my mind around the simple fact that during Hell Week, students will get 4 1/2 hours of sleep — total. That’s it. Hell Week was described to us as a time to “create as much chaos as possible.” Basically, they put these young men in a real-life situations where they could be harmed, or worse, without actually harming them.
The first three days, before they are permitted to sleep, are the worst. By the end, they’re pretty much delirious, existing solely by the voices of their commanders and a ringing bell, a sound that they hear several times a day and which signifies an invitation to quit the program.
“The bell rings all night,” we were told. “The opportunity to quit is there all the time.”
Around two-thirds of a class will call it quits during Hell Week. Physical discomfort and pain, miserable wet-cold conditions and hypothermia, along with fatigue and sleep deprivation will make many quit. Those who finish will hear their instructors yell the welcomed words, “Hell Week is secured!”
Accompanying the Astros on Friday were J.R. Towles, Mark Melancon and Brett Myers. The rifle portion of the program, where guests were shown about a dozen different (unloaded) weapons used by the SEALs and later invited to “test” them out, was, as you probably guessed, the most popular activity of the morning…
We were wondering if we’d have a Brad Ausmus sighting this weekend in San Diego, and we received our answer on Friday when we spotted the ex-Astros catcher throwing early batting practice to Padres hitters.
Ausmus retired after the 2010 season and now a special assistant to the Padres. He spends time here and there working with catchers in the Padres’ Minor League system.
Friday was the only day Ausmus planned to be at the ballpark. He was headed north to his daughters’ softball tournament — a reminder why he left Houston in the first place and while despite your pleas, it’s going to be a long time before he’d be in a position to return to Houston in a coaching capacity.
Anyway, it was good to see him, and judging from the reaction I received from a lot of you on Twitter, the legend of Officer Brad lives on in H-town…
General manager Ed Wade and Assistant GM/Scouting Director Bobby Heck met with reporters on Friday to discuss the upcoming draft, which begins with the first round on Monday at 6 p.m. CT.
This year’s draft appears to be heavy on pitching, but the Astros, as is the case every year, are on the lookout for the best player available when it’s their turn to pick. They have the 11th overall selection this year.
My super Social Media/Broadcasting Intern (Twintern?) Rachel Frey attended the media briefing and passed along these quotables (along with the pictures):
Heck: “It’s about picking the right player and picking a blend of high school players, college players, and even junior college players. We are still on the philosophy of picking the most talented player.”
“We are 60-70 percent done with the draft board. There are still going to be a lot more deep conversations.”
Wade said he’s briefed incoming owner Jim Crane and soon-to-be CEO George Postolos on the draft process. Asked how the sale of the team affected the draft budget, Wade offered, “We planned our budget in late November, early December, before talks of a sale began.”
Wade also noted the deep talent projected for the second round, “and that is a good thing when you have the 69th and 99th picks.”
The Methodist Hospital is hosting a free Men’s Health Expo at Minute Maid Park on Saturday, June 25 from 2-5 p.m., prior to the Astros game with the Rays.
The Expo, which will take place in Union Station, is available to men ages 45 and up. If you register now, you’ll receive two free tickets to that night’s game, based on availability.
The Expo offers health screenings for men, flexibility tests, massages and more. To register, call 713-790-3333 or visit
Questions? Email firstname.lastname@example.org