Results tagged ‘ Drayton McLane ’

Shooting stars, rainbow sleeves, blue and gold: “Flashback Fridays” will feature slick jerseys from the past.

Jose Cruz, Craig Biggio

History and nostalgia will be front and center for the Houston Astros in 2012, so it’s only fitting that four of their most famous players from yesteryear were on hand Thursday to ring in the club’s 50th anniversary celebration.

A large gathering of Houston media watched and listened as Jimmy Wynn (1963-73), Larry Dierker (1964-76), Jose Cruz (1975-87) and Craig Biggio (1988-2007) shared their memories of their favorite moments during their tenure with the franchise.

Not surprisingly, the 2005 World Series was mentioned more than once. Biggio’s 3,000th hit in June of 2007 ranked high on many lists as well.

“We were the first Texas team to go to the World Series,” Biggio said. “That was something to be proud of. And the 3,000 hit night — it was a magical night.”

Popular television announcers Bill Brown and Jim Deshaies hosted the question and answer session with the Astros icons in the FiveSeven Grille, which was decorated with images of the 50th anniversary logo and the jerseys from the past. Deshaies also interviewed several key Astros figures who were sitting in the crowd, including president of baseball operations Tal Smith, Spanish broadcaster Rene Cardenas, former radio announcer Gene Elston and current radio announcer Milo Hamilton.

Larry Dierker, Jim Deshaies

In addition to Biggio’s 3,000th hit and the Astros’ World Series, Hamilton cited the 2003 club’s six-pitcher no-hitter at Yankee Stadium as a highlight of his career.

“It had never been done before and I don’t think it will ever happen again,” Hamilton said.

The Astros also outlined their plans for the big golden anniversary celebration in 2012, which we blogged about here earlier in the day. Judging from the response I’ve received, I’d say the one element that has fans excited about the 50th anniversary celebration in 2012 more than any other is the “Flashback Fridays” plan, where every Friday home game, the Astros will wear a throwback jersey that represents a certain era in the Houston franchise.

That includes the 1964 Houston Colt .45s jersey, which, to the best of the club’s knowledge, has never been worn since that season 47 years ago. Also on the docket are the shooting star jersey from the first season in the Astrodome in 1965, the rainbow jersey the teams wore from 1975-86, the rainbow sleeve from 1987-93, the blue and gold jersey from 1994-99 and the current pinstripe jersey the club wears today.


More snippits from Thursday’s presser:

Drayton McLane cited the Astros’ press conference in 1996 announcing that they had a new manager as one of his favorite moments. It wasn’t so much that the Astros had hired a new manager as much as it was who their new manager was — Larry Dierker.

“Everyone was surprised,” McLane said. Turning to Dierker, McLane said, “Larry, did it surprise you?”

“Well,” Dierker deadpanned. “I knew what was going on by then.”

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McLane recalled the night in ’96 that he and several members of his inner circle were waiting to hear if the stadium referendum had passed.

“We were up late at the Westin Hotel in the Galleria,” he said. “At 12 at night, we were losing. At 2:30 in the morning, we won.”
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Brownie asked Biggio how long he thinks his career would have lasted if Biggio had remained at catcher instead of moving to second base.

“How many years did I catch? Four?” Biggio asked rhetorically. “So, maybe five.”
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Cruz was asked about the signature Cruuuuuuuuuuuz moniker given to him by the late J. Fred Duckett, the Astros’ public address announcer back in the day.

“The first time I heard it, I thought they were booing me,” Cruz said. “I was playing well. I thought, ‘What are they doing?'”
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Dierker credited the success the Astros had during his run as skipper from 1997-01 more to the makeup of the team than to his managerial maneuvering.

“We had such great talent on those teams,” Dierker said. “It didn’t matter what moves I made. We were going to win with that talent.”

Dierker offered a bit of advice to today’s Astros fans.

“Don’t judge a manager on his win-loss record. Judge a manager on what he gets out of the talent he has. Is Joe Girardi the best manager in the game? He’s the manager of the Yankees. Anyone can manage the Yankees and win.”

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Deshaies: “What was it like to work in Colt Stadium back in the day?”

Cardenas: “It was hot.”

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More from Cardenas: “I remember when Larry Dierker came to the ball club — he was a wonderful player and a wonderful person. I looked at this kid from California and said, ‘how did the Dodgers not sign him?’ We were lucky to have him.”
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Video corner:

Dierker, on past rebuilding projects and the Astros’ current reloading plan

Biggio, on spending his entire career with the Astros and who was influential on him in the early years
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And finally…the Astros will be previewing their 50th anniversary celebration this weekend with three promotional giveaway items bearing the special logo.

Friday: Commemorative Cap

Saturday: Fleece Blanket

Sunday: T-shirt

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Astros, Budweiser support military families

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By Rachel Frey

Ginger Gilbert heard a knock on her door on November 27, 2006, that changed her life. She was notified that her husband, Major Troy Gilbert, had crashed his F-16 while supporting ground combat operations northwest of Baghdad.  Just a few days later, his death was confirmed. He left behind not only his wife, but also five children under the age of nine.

Many people came together to support her family and help them achieve the dreams she and Troy had for their children. Folds of Honor helped support the family by providing post-secondary educational scholarships to all of their children.

With so many deserving families like the Gilberts, the Astros and Budweiser have announced a new partnership to benefit Folds of Honor. At a press conference on Tuesday, June 7, Silver Eagle Distributors President and CEO John Nau, Astros Chairman and CEO Drayton McLane, Astros General Manager Ed Wade, along with Ginger Gilbert unveiled the “Here’s to the Heroes” program.

From Memorial Day through July 10, Budweiser cans and cases will feature patriotic packaging and a portion of each sale will be donated by Budweiser to Folds of Honor. Silver Eagle Distributors will match this amount. Additionally, $100 will be donated by Budweiser for each home run hit in Minute Maid Park. Silver Eagle Distributors will donate $100 for each Astros home run. Also, be on the lookout on Flag Day, June 14, because Budweiser will visit area bars and restaurants to share Folds of Honor’s mission and treat consumers to a Budweiser.

“Each dollar donated is a separate thank you note to a family,” Ginger said.

The Astros have a long history of involvement with active and retired military. Once a month, “Astros on the Home Front” welcomes several military families with deployed loved ones to batting practice and the game. At each Sunday home game, the “Home Sweet Home” program, which is sponsored by Budweiser, welcomes a small group of active, recently returned military personnel to watch a game in a suite. An Astros player meets each group, and the groups are introduced to the crowd just before “God Bless America” is sung in the seventh inning. Drayton recalled the team’s visits to Walter Reed Hospital to visit the wounded soldiers each time they play the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park.

“We can never get desensitized to the fact that it’s not only about the individual — it’s about the family they left behind,” Ed said. “It’s up to us to not just say ‘It’s a tragedy,’ It’s up to us to step up and do what we can to help.”

Rachel Frey is the Social Media and Broadcasting Intern for the Houston Astros. She studies Public Relations at The University of Texas at Austin, where she spends most of her time attending Texas Football & Baseball games. Connect with Rachel on her Twitter account: @RachelFrey or on her MLBlog, A Temporary Perspective.

The Astros are for sale, the scoreboards are coming down. Busy day at the ballpark.

It was anything but a typical workday on Friday at Minute Maid Park, which might be the biggest understatement of the offseason considering club owner Drayton McLane made it official — his team is up for sale, and he’s hired an investment bank to find a buyer.

How long this will take is anyone’s guess. Could be months, could be years. Drayton said it took about four months for him to finagle a deal with the previous owner, John McMullen, in 1992, but other sales of teams have taken much longer.

So for now, we wait. There are few answers just yet, considering we don’t know who out there is seriously interested in buying the team or if they will be able to come up with the money to seal a deal. One question was answered during the press conference, however, one that a lot of you have expressed in the last few hours. The team will operate under the guise of business as usual, so if you’re expecting the payroll to be stripped down to $40 million with no effort to build a team for 2011, don’t. The show goes on.

“We’ll see where the market is,” McLane said of the pending sale. “There’s no rush to do this.”

McLane was reflective and forthright during two meetings — first with the entire Astros front office staff, and then with the media. He’s owned the team for 18 years, during which the Astros enjoyed their best years as a franchise — six playoff berths, four division titles and one World Series appearance.

Ownership has been a family affair for the McLane crew — Drayton, his wife, Elizabeth, and his sons Drayton III and Denton. Drayton has talked about the business of baseball with his sons since they were in high school, but now that they’re both in their 30s and raising young families, Drayton realized it’s time to move on. Neither son has expressed an interest in making baseball ownership a career, and with that understanding, the elder McLane made the decision to sell the club.

You can read McTaggart’s full MLB.com report on the afternoon’s events here

 Press conferences are designed to answer pointing questions from the media, but there were a couple of off-the-cuff poignant moments that stood out as well. It was very moving to hear Drayton mention the late Neil Hohlfeld, who covered the Astros for the Houston Chronicle during McLane’s early years as owner. McLane identified Hohlfeld as the one who taught him the nuts and bolts of the business of baseball with a firm hand, while having no problem admonishing Drayton when he stumbled.

“I made several public speeches (in the early years) and if I said something inaccurate about baseball, Neil would pull me aside and say, “get it right.”

McLane said Hohlfeld was his baseball “mentor.” Classy move.

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Drayton also told a funny story about when he bought the team in 1992. Rumors were floating around that a family from Temple, Texas — “maybe some country bumpkins,” McLane joked — was buying the franchise from McMullen. Houston Post reporter Kenny Hand was sniffing around, trying to get ahead of the story. The McLanes were listed in the phone book, so Kenny looked Drayton up and gave him a call. Hand quickly learned there was more than one Drayton McLane living in Temple.

McLane’s dad, Drayton McLane, was in poor health and had a nurse taking care of him, so when the phone rang at 10 a.m. on a Saturday, it was the nurse who picked up.

“Kenny asked, ‘Is Drayton there?'” McLane (the Astros owner) recalled. “The nurse said, ‘Is it really important? When we wake him really quickly like that, he has a hard time getting up and focusing on the conversation.’ Kenny said, ‘How old is he?’ The nurse answered, ‘Ninety-two.'”

Realizing he had the wrong Drayton McLane, Hand called another number. Drayton (the owner) was at work, and his wife was at the beauty salon. The sons, as is the case with most teenage boys, were sleeping.

The phone rang, and one of the slumbering boys answered. So Hand tried again.

“Who’s this?”

“This is Drayton McLane.”

“And how old are you?”

“Eighteen.”

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In addition to McLane announcing he was selling the team, activity on the playing field at Minute Maid Park was also busy. Around 9:30 a.m., the cranes began the process of removing the old scoreboard for the new one, which will be installed sometime in January. The new video board will dwarf the old one, and additionally, a new scoreboard will be installed in left field. Here are the early images of what is sure to be a winter-long project (with some photos from the press conference tacked on at the end):

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Press conference:

Steve Greenberg of Allen & Company will search for a buyer. Greenberg surmised the process could take six to 12 months, or longer.   

Drayton conducts an interview with FS Houston’s Greg Lucas.

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Our Latin American Home is open for business. Moises Alou says hello.

Dorm rooms, computer rooms, English classes and a mess hall. This sounds a lot like college life, with one exception — in college, athletics are an elective. Here, they’re the focus.

The Astros officially opened their brand new Latin American Home in the Dominican Republic on Monday, a ceremony attended by a large portion of the front office staff, including owner Drayton McLane, general manager Ed Wade and president of baseball operations Tal Smith.

Such facilities in the past have been called “academies,” but the newly coined phrase “home” is probably more appropriate, considering Latin American ballplayers don’t come here only to hone their baseball skills. They also learn to get along in a country they hope to someday call home — the United States, “home” to Major League Baseball.

The Astros’ nine-person traveling party was given a grand tour of the new facility, which houses approximately 35 players and, if all goes as planned, will provide a bridge between two areas rich with baseball talent and the big leagues. Players living at the Latin American Home are from the Dominican and Venezuela and were signed as teenagers. The majority of the roster consists of talent no older than age 20.

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Ed Wade addresses players in the clubhouse. His comments were interpreted by Felix Francisco.

They’ll play baseball approximately 10 months out of the year, and along the way, they’ll learn life skills during extensive English lessons that take place in both classrooms and a state-of-the-art computer lab.

Dorm rooms line the top floor of the facility. There are 16 player rooms, with four players bunking per room. The computer room has 15 work stations and internet access, and will help to enhance learning, English-speaking skills while also giving often homesick players an easy way to communicate with their families.

Computer lab

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Wade in a dorm room.

The complex consists of 2 1/2 fields and is located a half-mile from the new Tampa Bay Rays and Los Angeles facilities. Those fields are located in close proximity to dozens of other academies opened in recent years by nearly every big league club.

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After receiving the grand tour from Astros Player Development Coordinator Allen Rowin, McLane was duly impressed with the state-of-the-art facility.

“I’m overwhelmed,” McLane said. “I’d seen pictures, I saw the plans a year and a half ago and it turned out much better than I even anticipated. It’s a credit to the construction industry here in the Dominican that they can accomplish this in such a short period of time and of the high quality that it is.”

Several Dominican dignitaries attended the ceremony, including Minister of Sports Felipe Payano. Former Astro Moises Alou, who enjoyed tremendous success during his four years with the club and who is one of the best players to come from the Dominican Republic, was also present.

Moises Alou, Astros head of security Angel Zayas and Asst. GM Dave Gottfried 

Another special surprise was the appearance of Epy Guererro, best-known for being the pioneer of Astros Dominican scouting several decades ago and who signed Cesar Cedeno in the 1960s.

The months-long planning process to get to this day was largely due to the work of Rowin, Julio Linares (long-time special assistant) and Felix Francisco, the club’s Director of Latin American Scouting. The process to open the facility began about two years ago, when the Astros decided to close their Venezuelan Academy, upgrade their facility in the Dominican and start a Gulf Coast team in the States.

The goal? Sign better players, bring them to the States when they’re still young and accelerate their path to the big leagues. The more advanced Dominican players will go straight to the GCL, where they’ll find a more even competition level and won’t be pushed to the next level in Greeneville before they’re ready.

The Astros found that players who “graduated” from the Venezuelan Academy were more prepared for life in the States than others who did not. Now players will converge together in the Dominican to start the process in a brand-new facility that offers the comforts of home with top-notch baseball instruction.

“I think it’s an attraction to get more players into our organization, because the new facility plays a role in it,” Wade said. “But once they get here, the fact that we have 2 1/2 fields to work on from a physical standpoint is very important, but also from the standpoint of nutrition, English classes and everything involved trying to create a whole person from the kids that are here, we’ve got everything right here.”

More images from the facility:

The building includes replica championship banners that hang at Minute Maid Park.

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The lunchroom.

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Players can relax in this gameroom.

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Ceremonial first pitch: Felipe Payano, Drayton McLane.

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Ribbon cutting: Wade, McLane, Payano, Francisco.

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Photo albums, videos, and you.

“Social media” is a relatively new term, but it’s quickly changing the way companies do business. In sports, social media is opening up all kinds of new avenues for teams to directly communicate with their fans. With Spring Training upon us, there is no better time for Major League Baseball — and more specifically, your Houston Astros — to bring you every nugget of what is going on, through articles, pictures, videos, blogs and Twitter updates.

If you haven’t joined the Astros Facebook page, I invite you to do so. We’re posting daily photo albums from camp in an effort to give you the fly-on-the-wall perspective that is now available with a simple click of the mouse. All blogs, as well as Brian McTaggart’s outstanding mlb.com coverage, can be found there.

We’re also posting daily videos, which live on both the homepage of astros.com and a special video section which you can find here. Those videos are also linked to my Footnotes page, which is a landing page that includes blogs, videos and links to my Twitter account.

So far, we’ve posted a Roy Oswalt interview, two workout videos, a Brad Mills segment and footage from Drayton McLane’s announcement of Ed Wade’s contract extension. You’ll also find archived segments from the Astros’ recent offseason caravans.

Our goal is to bring you close to the action, even if you can’t be there in person. We have a ton of new faces in camp this year, so there’s no better time to start getting to know the new Astros, as well as say hello to old friends.

Enjoy!

Tim Byrdak, Jeff Fulchino

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Roy Oswalt

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Oswalt practices fielding grounders back to the mound. That’s Jose Cruuuuz at first base. 

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Bud Norris, Brian Moehler throw bullpens.

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Felipe Paulino throws a bullpen (with the Astros braintrust watching from behind). 

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Catchers Humberto Quintero and Jason Castro.

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It’s like the first day of school, only better.

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Pitchers and catchers began slowly trickling into the Astros’ spring complex as far back as last week, but Saturday was the big day — everyone had to be accounted for, in uniform and ready for the first official workout of 2010.

It really is, in some ways, reminiscent of the first day of school: you see some people you know, a few who you don’t, and it’s always nice to reconnect with those who you haven’t seen in many months.

Astros pitchers and catchers took physicals, unpacked their lockers and spent 2 1/2 hours on the backfields Saturday morning to begin the 41-day process to get ready for the regular season. New bullpen coach Jamie Quirk began to get acquainted with the catchers, new pitching coach Brad Arnsberg met his full staff for the first time and first base coach Bobby Meacham gave several tutorials about the importance of successfully bunting.

Manager Brad Mills (pictured above) looked at ease through the process, although I have to assume he was (understandably) feeling a little jittery. While addressing the media, he worked hard to deflect the attention away from himself and toward the business on the field, but seeing he’s a first-year manager taking over a team that desperately needed a clean start, Mills had no choice but to talk briefly about what appears to be his least favorite topic — himself.

Asked when it finally hit him that he was solely in charge of this club, Mills, who spent the last six seasons as Boston’s bench coach, admitted he felt it when he arrived to Kissimmee more than a week ago.

“The first day, I felt it, that’s when it set in,” Mills said. “When I got down here, they gave me a tour of the facility, we had five or six players already here…and that’s when it first hit me.”

A look at Day One, through the camera lens:

Mills, with Oswalt standing to his right, addresses one group of pitchers.

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Mills conducts his daily meeting (the first of two, actually) with the media on the field, while the team stretches. This beats sitting in a stuffy office.  

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Three members of the Spring Training coaching staff: Jose Cruuuuz, Eric Young, Dave Clark.

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Oswalt looks pretty relaxed at the beginning of Spring Training. Wondering how he’ll feel after the 500th “how’s your back?” question.  

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Wandy Rodriguez insisted he had no hard feelings about losing his arbitration hearing a few days ago. “It’s reasonable,” he said. “At the end of the day it’s about the team trying to make its case and me making my case.” Wandy added that his goal is to work hard, do well this year and receive a multi-year deal next year.

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Brad Arnsberg and Brad Mills talk to the pitchers.  

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Running wind sprints following the work out.

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Bud Norris, Brett Myers, Chris Sampson, Tim Byrdak. 

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Jamie Quirk and the catchers.

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Ed Wade and Ricky Bennett. Wade was recently given a two-year contract extension through 2012. Bennett and asst. GMs Dave Gottfried and Bobby Heck were extended through 2011.

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Wade and Drayton talk with the media about Wade’s extension.

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JR Towles signs autographs after the workout.

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 Pre-workout laugh: Mills, Meacham, Al Pedrique.
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Astros release statement; no sale

The group that was given a 30-day negotiating window by Astros owner Drayton McLane to make an offer to purchase the club has not made an official offer prior to the Jan. 31 deadline, the Astros announced on Monday.  

“As I’ve said all along, my family and I are not actively attempting to sell the Astros,” McLane said in a statement. “Over the years, I have been approached many times by groups interested in discussing the possible purchase of the team, and I’ve always been open to listening.

“This group was granted an exclusive negotiating window which expired yesterday (January 31), how­ever, nothing materialized. 

“For 18 years, the Astros have been and will continue to be a big part of me and my family. We consider owning the Astros a public trust and embrace the responsibility to the city of Houston.

“Moving forward, we remain as committed as ever to putting a competitive and winning team on the field and making a positive difference in our community. We are anxious to start spring training and begin the 2010 championship season on April 5 at home against the Giants.”

McLane, Crane release joint statement

Astros owner Drayton McLane and Houston businessman Jim Crane released the following statement on Saturday:

 

We had many conversations and meetings working toward a deal for the Astros through October 2008.  Jim offered a fair price, but we were unable to reach agreement on other terms.

 

While we were both disappointed at the time, we have since moved forward.

 

Jim appreciates and respects Drayton’s commitment to Major League Baseball, and wishes Drayton continued success with the Astros.

 

Jim has been a highly successful businessman in Houston for many years, and Drayton appreciates and respects Jim’s interest in Major League Baseball.

 

Drayton supports Jim in his continuing pursuit of a Major League franchise.

 

A full story in the Houston Chronicle regarding the joint statement can be found here.

Drayton acknowledges near-deal. But are the Astros for sale?

I spent most of the day sifting through various media reports detailing Drayton McLane’s near-sale of the Astros after the 2008 season.

McLane acknowledged the handshake deal between him and Houston-based businessman Jim Crane that occurred after a price was negotiated, but apparently the deal was not put into writing and never got to the stage where MLB’s owners and the Commissioner have to give their stamp of approval.

That handshake deal was made public on Tuesday through reports coming out of Dallas, where Crane was attempting to be the next owner of the Rangers. And then, it became a story in Houston.

So, here’s what we know:

1) In 2008, McLane agreed to a deal in principle sell majority ownership to Crane. The deal was later pulled off the table after Crane, according to McLane, cited his concern with the economic downturn.

2) McLane is not actively shopping the Astros, but he listens when a suitor comes calling. (I’m guessing it goes something like this: McLane: “Sure, show me what you’ve got.” Suitor: “Well, I don’t have much.” McLane: “Thanks for stopping by.”)

A couple of McLane quotes in this story by MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart stood out to me:

1) “In the last five or six years, a lot of people and talked [to me about buying the team] and 99 percent of the time it never amounts to more than one conversation.”

2) “If somebody comes to me or one of my sons and was a highly credible person or organization and had the financial wherewithal, we’d talk to them. If you ask me, ‘Are the Astros for sale?’ No.”

So, it appears McLane is not actively shopping the Astros. But if someone ponied up, say, $450 million, I’m guessing it would pique McLane’s interest. Can’t say I blame him — he bought the team for $117 million in 1992, so an offer of four times that amount would be tempting, especially if he doesn’t envision ownership of the Astros to stay within the family.

I love my house, but if someone offered me four times what I paid for it…well, you do the math.

This has been a strange story. I imagine if this had all come out a year ago, when the handshake deal took place, it would have some legs. Instead, everyone missed the story, and now, I just feel like I’m late to the party and someone has already eaten all of the guacamole dip.

What say you?

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The art of the press conference, and a few Mills tidbits.

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Once I learned that Brad Mills was hired as the Astros manager,I reached out to two good friends who have covered the Red Sox for parts or all of the last decade and asked them simply, “What do you think of Brad Mills?” Here’s what I received back:

Friend No. 1:
“Mills is a genuinely nice guy and he did an amazing job turning the Sox into such a well-run machine. He’s so efficient at everything he does. He’s not a great quote but he’s friendly and respectful. He’s the ultimate taskmaster.”

Friend No. 2:
“Tremendously organized. Probably the most organized coach I’ve ever been around. He had basically every day of Spring Training plotted out weeks in advance of camp, with charts on where everyone is at all times.

“He was a big help to Francona on the bench, helping pitchers with pickoff moves, etc., and aligning the defense, etc. He had great communication skills with the players and has been Francona’s confidant since their days as roommates at Arizona.

“I’ve never heard anyone say a bad word about Brad Mills. And being around Francona on the Red Sox bench for the last six years can only help from an experience standpoint.”

Two things stood out to me from these responses: 1) both said Mills was incredibly organized and 2) Friend No. 2 pointed out that Mills is good at aligning defenses. And can I just say, hallelujah on both counts. The Astros are already better off in ’10 than they were in ’09, and they’re more than five months away from playing a game that counts in the standings.

I’ve heard from many of you over the last couple of weeks, and please allow me clear up a few misconceptions: coaches are responsible for much, much more than what you see them do during an actual game. Scouting reports need to be scoured. Spray charts need to be studied. Pitchers and catchers need to be prepped. And on and on and on.

Positioning has been an issue with this team for a long time — too long. Just hearing that Mills had a lot to do with aligning the Red Sox’ defense makes me feel like the Astros are on the right track. It seems like such a small thing, I know. But it’s not. It’s huge. Manager and coach pregame preparation can make all the difference between and winning and losing seasons.

Here’s what Red Sox manager Terry Francona said about his now former bench coach:

“I’ve probably taken it for granted that everybody is where they’re supposed to be because he’s so good at it. We’ll certainly have to make some adjustments. But his gain far outweighs any adjustments we have to make. Millsy embodies so much of what is good in baseball. For him to get an opportunity, it sure is nice. It sure is exciting for all of us.”

I have no idea what kind of manager Mills will be and until he’s actually sitting in the hot seat, none of us can make the judgment. But he was impressive during his press conference on Tuesday and I’m looking forward to seeing how he guides this team through a challenging transitional period.

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On another note, I haven’t seen the press conference room at Minute Maid Park this packed since Roger Clemens unretired for the 97th time a few years ago. When I saw Drayton McLane in the hallway a few minutes before the press conference started, I jokingly said, “Congratulations on getting this over with before the World Series.” He laughed and said the Commissioner called him three times — twice Monday and once Tuesday morning. “He said, ‘You have until 5 p.m. (Tuesday) to get this done,'” McLane recalled. That was the deadline — hire a manager by then, or wait until after the World Series. The former reporter in me was thankful this thing was over and done with.

I’m sure most of you have watched the press conference on TV or online in some capacity. Sound bites are nice and photo opps are fun, but that doesn’t give you the full experience. Here are some images from Tuesday’s presser, some of which you won’t normally see just by watching from afar. Enjoy.

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The media waited inside the press conference room, but outside, Mills and several members of the front office chatted casually before entering the room. Kudos to Mills (seen here with assistant GM Ricky Bennett) for acting naturally as three or four photographers snapped close up photos.

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A little to the left of Mills stood owner Drayton McLane and GM Ed Wade.

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PR director Gene Dias (middle) gives the gentle, “OK, we’re ready” signal, which is a nice way of telling the group, let’s go. Time to start the presser.

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The normal order of speakers at a major Astros press conference is 1)Wade; 2)McLane and 3) whoever they hired/signed. This announcement was obviously a big one, hence, the packed room. That’s Larry Dierker in the front.

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Mills came across very well at the press conference. When he was asked to hold up the jersey again, he held up the front instead of back. “The name on the front is more important than the name on the back,” he said. Good move.

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Once each speaker has answered questions at the podium, the formal part of the presser is over and it’s time for “one-on-ones.” TVs like this because it gives more of a personal touch. Beat/print reporters like this because they need more quotes than just what is said during the formal part.

Reporters headed in three directions — most went to Mills, some went to Wade, some went to McLane. It’s a media free-for-all.

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Once word spread that hitting coach Sean Berry and Mills are friends and neighbors in California, Berry became a media target. Berry happened to be in town for a Make-A-Wish golf tournament (which was rained out Monday and rescheduled for November).

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Nothing like a press conference to bring a couple of former Astros greats to the ballpark. Left, Enos Cabell. Right, Larry Dierker.

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Photo opp No. 477: Mills checks out the field at Minute Maid Park. Photographers document every move while trying not to step on anyone.

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Mills and Wade have a chuckle while getting situated:

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Tal Smith (left), Mills, Wade

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Then McLane joins in.

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Side view.

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