The biggest story locally this week has probably been the Astros hiring of Brad Mills. While some see it as the dawning of a new era for the Astros, I for one am sad to see the pageant that was Star Search 2009 end.
So many memories...watching Drayton and Tal parade all ten candidates around...hearing them each answer a couple questions from the media to test their poise (was really hoping for Ned Yost to go all Miss Teen South Carolina in that part)...but my favorite memory? I, for one, will always remember Manny Acta magically making himself disappear in the "talent" portion of the competition. Riveting.
As for Mills, I honestly don't know that much about him...and to me, that's actually a good thing. It means that Drayton McLane is not serving us some stale, recycled carcass like those nachos he carries in his pockets like so many nickels and dimes. Presumably, hiring someone with no association whatsoever with Drayton McLane and Tal Smith, and only a second-degree association with Ed Wade (like the Kevin Bacon game, stay with me ... Brad Mills sat next to Terry Francona for six years, Ed Wade fired Francona in Philadelphia. BINGO!), means that there will be fresh, new ideas.
Here is what I do know about Brad Mills:
PRO: Mills is completely bald. This is a good thing, as people automatically assume that 100 percent baldies in a position of power are bad-ass until they prove otherwise. Examples include UW defensive coordinator Nick Holt, Stone Cold Steve Austin, and Michael Chiklis in The Shield.
PRO: Mills nickname is "Sarge". For a team whose veteran players need a kick in the ass, this is good news for Astro fans. Put it this way, I'd be even less enthused about 2010 if I found out Mills' nickname was Spanky, Slappy, or Booger.
PRO: Mills spent several years around Manny Ramirez. If he was in the clubhouse that actually tolerated Manny's incessant bullshit, then Carlos Lee will be a cakewalk. (I mean "cakewalk" literally; I think this is the season Carlos Lee actually crushes a big plate of tiramisu on his way to first base.)
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CON: Carlos Lee actually has more time left on his deal than newly signed manager Brad Mills. And, Astro Fan, if that's not enough to make you want to walk blindfolded across the Katy Freeway in rush hour, then nothing is.
CON: Mills doesn't pitch. As long as Felipe Paulino and Wesley Wright are still being mentioned by a straight-faced Ed Wade as starting-rotation candidates, it doesn't matter if the manager is the love child of Earl Weaver and Tommy Lasorda.
CON: He actually gives thoughtful answers to questions. I don't know how other media members feel, but I was a big fan of Cecil Cooper's 12-word answers to questions, most of which were punctuated with a less than emphatic "He's, uh, pretty good" -- ironic considering the Astros last season were, uh, pretty bad. Above all else, Coop's unique style of truncated glibness usually lent itself to the post-game pressers lasting less time than it took Damone to achieve orgasm in Fast Times at Ridgemont High. Short pressers mean I get over to the B.U.S. that much quicker to start drinking. Now this Mills fellow will be cutting into my boozing time with his thoughtful, intelligent answers! I'm hating him already!
CONCLUSION: THIS TEAM WILL BE AN UTTER MESS FOR AT LEAST TWO YEARS...so Mills and his sweet two-year contract won't be around to see the fruits of any of his labor anyway. But Carlos Lee will, so we've got that to look forward to.