Friday, April 13, 2012

That Time I Met: Brad Mills

Did I ever tell you about that time I met Brad Mills?

It was May 6, 2010, and I was working on some audit documentation for my client, CITGO.  Since the company is a sponsor of the Houston Astros, every year they have several personnel come out to the campus for a meet-and-greet type event.  We were lucky enough to be graced with the presence of Geoff Blum, Jason Michaels, Pedro Feliz, and manager Brad Mills.

While I was somewhat excited to see the three players, I was most interested to hear from Brad Mills.  This was the beginning of his first season as manager for the Astros, and I wanted to see what he was all about.

So they all go up on a mini-podium and give a short little speech.  Then they were ushered into the cafeteria where employees were herded like cattle to receive autographed pictures.  In the end, after hearing the man speak and sharing a quality 5-second conversation with him, there were two takeaways:

1) He was a nice guy.
2) He was a boring guy.

But this all got me to thinking: what makes a decent baseball manager?  Ever since I was a young gun cheering for the Killer B’s, I have always underestimated how much there really is to “manage” with a baseball team.  With basketball, you see the head coach yelling and stomping around on the sidelines, and with football, the head coach is sometimes calling every single play, but what about baseball?  You see the manager sitting in the dugout, generally looking as disinterested as possible, chewing on some sunflower seeds.  He might as well have a stadium beer while he’s at it since it looks like he’s doing the same thing as every other patron there.

This is not to say that I did not admire the Joe Torre’s of the baseball world, who had to rein in a dozen diva personalities to form one cohesive unit, but what about the majority of the MLB?  If you had the ability to handpick your team’s manager, what would you go on other than their past winning percentage?

Unfortunately, these are all rhetorical questions -- I have no concrete answers for you here.  I’m just a puzzled Astros fan who was unsarcastically raising my arms in triump a few days ago when my hometown team ended the day with a winning record (2-1) for the first time since 2009.  Yes, it’s been that long.

Don’t get me wrong -- I’m not blaming Brad Mills.  Like I said, he’s a nice, albeit boring, guy, and I’m sure he’s doing his best with the team he has been provided with.  The main problem with the Astros is that the team he has been provided with has been lacking in talent, and this all stems from the previous team owner, Drayton McLane, not knowing how to correctly build a winning baseball team.  The team that is on the field today is definitely unrecognizable for the casual Houston fan.  Quick game: name five current non-pitcher players on the roster.  I’ll wait.

Actually no, I won’t wait.  I don’t have all day.  The point is that the team is in rebuilding mode due to the shambles that McLane left the team in.  A good baseball team is built from a good farm system, but Drayton treated farm players like Monopoly money, repeatedly shipping young kids out for washed-up veterans.  I guess Houston has a knack for that dating back to the Charles Barkley trade (I still miss you, Sam Cassell and Robert Horry), but that still doesn’t explain why the Astros went a whole year without signing any of their draft picks.

But if there’s one sport where hope reigns supreme, it’s baseball.  So I have placed a futures bet on the Houston Astros winning over their projected 63.5 wins this season.  Hey, maybe they’ll even go crazy and make the playoffs!

Literally seconds after typing that last sentence, I stumbled upon news that we are a mere six games into the 2012 season, and the Astros already have 0.0% chance of making the playoffs.  Well, there’s always next year!

Oh just kidding -- we’re moving to the American League next year.  Again, you suck, Bud Selig.


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