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[justice] Mclane article

Discussion in 'Houston Astros' started by NJRocket, Jun 8, 2005.

  1. NJRocket

    NJRocket Contributing Member

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    http://www.chron.com/cs/CDA/ssistory.mpl/sports/3216047



    Isn't that the way it is with some people? They barely know your name when the confetti's swirling. They hang around former presidents, smoke fat stogies and drink from silver goblets.

    Then when there is smoke pouring from the engine, they tell you they have been meaning to call.

    "You never wanted my friendship ... ." Vito Corleone tells Bonasera at the beginning of The Godfather. "Now you come to me."

    Lucky for Drayton, I'm a soft touch. If he wants my help, he gets my help.

    His e-mail said he would like to talk to me because I'm so knowledgeable about baseball.

    Well (blush), yes.


    Worth noting? Maybe
    I showed up at his office the other afternoon ready for one of those tough-love chats. I had a list in my pocket. I was going to be quick, clean and to the point.

    I was going to tell him Astros general manager Tim Purpura needed more autonomy and that Chris Burke and Jason Lane needed more playing time. I was going to tell him to loosen the purse strings next winter for a reliever and a hitter.

    I wanted him to understand that stretching the payroll one year should be viewed more as an investment than a debt.

    I'd rehearsed my spiel so many times Rusty Hardin would be envious. And McLane did allow me to make each and every point.

    What bothered me was that he wasn't taking notes. Not a single one. I know he has a sharp mind, but he is going to turn 69 in a few weeks.

    Shouldn't he have jotted down a few of my better suggestions?

    He said Purpura has as much autonomy as Gerry Hunsicker had. He smiled proudly when he said this. I didn't have the heart to tell him that a lack of autonomy was the biggest reason Hunsicker left.

    McLane said his baseball people had assured him Lane and Burke indeed would play.

    As for spending more money, well, pigs don't fly.


    Blast from the past
    Turns out, what McLane really wanted was a chance to defend himself from a column I had written blaming him for this disaster of a season.

    Instead of looking forward, he wanted to look back.

    For instance, Jeff Kent's name came up about every six seconds.

    I believe McLane mishandled those negotiations last winter. First, he declined to pick up Kent's $9 million option for 2005. Then he offered Kent a deal that would have been worth more money.

    I told him bringing Kent back should have been a no-brainer. He was the National League's best player at his position and a probable future Hall of Famer.

    McLane had a good defense. The Astros wanted Craig Biggio to play second base.

    That answer would make sense except that it is inconsistent with what they did. They declined to pick up Kent's option, then realized they had made a mistake and tried to re-sign him at an even higher price.

    Once Kent left, McLane vetoed his baseball staff's idea of signing Moises Alou. So at that point, his entire offseason was about signing Carlos Beltran.

    This strategy, he acknowledged, was a mistake.

    "I misjudged that," McLane said. "I got to know Carlos and (Beltran's wife) Jessica extremely well. I thought they would want to stay in Houston. I thought this was their kind of city. I thought they would drive the deal more than they did."

    He believes agent Scott Boras steered Beltran to New York.

    "He used us to go to the Mets," he said. "I think he learned his lesson after signing Alex Rodriguez with the Rangers. A-Rod didn't get marquee endorsements playing for the Rangers. I think he wanted Carlos in New York to get the media and endorsements. I should have seen that. That's my view now."

    Money typically was a big part of the conversation. He refused to tell me his team's revenues.

    No surprise there. Baseball owners love to blabber about their money problems when they want public dollars for a ballpark. Once they get the ballpark, they decide their finances are none of your business.

    McLane told me several times during the 2002 labor negotiations he would open his books once the deal was done. He has since changed his story, saying commissioner Bud Selig won't allow it.

    "It's not something you're supposed to talk about," he said.

    He will only say that he has lost a bunch of money. Even last season when the Astros drew a record 3.2 million fans, McLane said he lost around $8 million.

    And despite an additional $12 million to $15 million a year in local television revenue, he doesn't plan to raise the payroll. He is going to run the Astros like any other business.

    "We've been here 12 years," he said, "and lost money in 11 of them. We've had to subsidize to keep the payroll at a certain level. We've lost money in 11 of them."


    More than any one specific move, we disagreed over philosophy. I believed the Astros should have built on last season's momentum, that McLane should not have torn apart a team that missed the World Series by one victory.

    He says it has been more bad luck than bad planning.

    "It's been kind of a perfect storm," he said. "We didn't know Lance Berkman was going to tear up his knee. We thought Jeff Bagwell would continue to play at the level he did last year. And then we thought some of the young players would play better than they have. It seems small at the time, but when a bunch of the players got sick, that really hit hard. Brad Lidge lost 10 pounds. I think we had five players in the hospital."

    Other than Beltran, he didn't concede a single point. No matter what Kent could have provided in terms of offense, Biggio is McLane's man. He appreciates Biggio remaining with the Astros and intends to usher him through his final playing days and into the Hall of Fame.

    "Twice, he could have left here," McLane said, "but he stayed. He stayed one time for less money. I might make a lot of mistakes, but I'm a very loyal person."

    When we were done, we shook hands even though we had disagreed on almost every major point.

    Salesmen never stop selling. Nor should they.
     
  2. NJRocket

    NJRocket Contributing Member

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    We didn't know Lance Berkman was going to tear up his knee. We thought Jeff Bagwell would continue to play at the level he did last year. And then we thought some of the young players would play better than they have. It seems small at the time, but when a bunch of the players got sick, that really hit hard. Brad Lidge lost 10 pounds. I think we had five players in the hospital."

    Ok...the Berkman thing i can understand. He thought Bags would continue to produce with a worse shoulder and no lineup protection???? Is he kidding?

    As for the young guys....Taveras is one of the top base stealers in the league...Lane (I am assuing he thought of him as a young guy) had a hotter 1st month than anyone in baseball....and the rest of the rookies played like rookies....what more could he have hoped for?

    The flu? Is he really saying that the flu bug that went thru the clubhouse is why they are 2-22 or whatever on the road? Cmon Drayton. I give credit where credit is due...and maybe this is what his "people" (i.e. purpura) told him....but whichever the case, those are some ridiculous statements.

    "Twice, he could have left here," McLane said, "but he stayed. He stayed one time for less money. I might make a lot of mistakes, but I'm a very loyal person."


    almost to a fault
     
  3. NJRocket

    NJRocket Contributing Member

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    And despite an additional $12 million to $15 million a year in local television revenue, he doesn't plan to raise the payroll. He is going to run the Astros like any other business.

    Dunno about you guys, but thats not really what I want to hear.
     
  4. Rocketman95

    Rocketman95 Hangout Boy

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    I'm going to take that with a grain of salt. There was no direct quote from McLane in the article stating that. The quote directly following Justice's statement doesn't prove that he won't raise payroll. Payroll has been raised nearly every year, if not every year.
     
  5. Master Baiter

    Master Baiter Contributing Member

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    This is a terrible article. His takes are so tired. "I'm a news writer! I'm so smart! We should have done this! Drayton McLane is an idiot!"

    Get over yourself.
     
  6. PhiSlammaJamma

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    we gave out 2 mvps. Of course we suck. It doesn't take a genius to figure it out. The new kids will have to step up. But I can live with that. We can't have a contender every year.
     
  7. SamCassell

    SamCassell Contributing Member

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    I'm tired of hearing McLane talk about how he's lost money. Since they moved to the new ballpark, I just don't believe that's true. I've seen independent reports proving that he's lying or fudging the numbers through creative accounting to claim a loss. And he won't show his books.

    I don't think an owner is obligated to spend at a certain level. If he wants to make a profit, he's entitled to. But don't make up crap to justify it.
     
  8. rikesh316

    rikesh316 Member

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    If Mclane was losing money like he said, don't you think he would be in a hurry to sell the team. That b*stard is a liar.
     
  9. VesceySux

    VesceySux Contributing Member

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    Can you BE any more vain? Justice writes a column that a few people read and quickly forget. Nothing more, nothing less. I highly doubt he has any major league scouting experience. Or an MBA. Or any negotiations experience. Or a law degree for looking over contracts and interpreting laws. JUSTICE, YOU ARE A JOE SCHMOE. AN ARMCHAIR QUARTERBACK. ANOTHER FACELESS FAN WITH AN OPINION. McCLANE OWES YOU NOTHING. Get over yourself.

    Does Justice even READ the crap he shoves on the public? He was Kent's #1 detractor for a LONG time. CREDIBILITY... SHOT.

    And apparently, some sports columnists never stop spewing crap.


    Whew. Just felt the need to vent AT Justice for being such an incredible douche bag. Hey, you have your anti-McClane campaign; I have my anti-Justice one. :)

    (I wonder if JusticeSux is still available...)
     
  10. Hammer755

    Hammer755 Contributing Member

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    Justice is a hack with good connections (which probably can be said about 90% of the country's sportswriters). Jeff Kent is not the difference between last year's team and this year's.
     
  11. xiki

    xiki Contributing Member

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    You are entitled to your take on (in)Justice, but -- that part tickled me because of the way Boros took apart the billionaire DMc with Beltran.
     
  12. MadMax

    MadMax Contributing Member

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    i'm too tired.
     
  13. TheFreak

    TheFreak Contributing Member

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    No matter what Kent could have provided in terms of offense, Biggio is McLane's man. He appreciates Biggio remaining with the Astros and intends to usher him through his final playing days and into the Hall of Fame.

    "Twice, he could have left here," McLane said, "but he stayed. He stayed one time for less money. I might make a lot of mistakes, but I'm a very loyal person."


    Wish he owned the Rockets.
     
  14. pgabriel

    pgabriel Educated Negro

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    Then they wouldn't have any rings.
     
  15. Rocketman95

    Rocketman95 Hangout Boy

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    Because McLane would've caused Hakeem to start airballing all his shots and tripping over himself why he attempted the Dreamshake, right?
     
  16. VesceySux

    VesceySux Contributing Member

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    I'm attacking the messenger, not the message. Justice's self-important ramblings can be reduced to:

    "Why, yes I am qualified to run the Astros! After all, I did stay in a Holiday Inn Express last night."
     
  17. Rocketman95

    Rocketman95 Hangout Boy

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    Why in the world would that tickle you...unless you're not an Astros fan. Which, in that case, it makes perfect sense.
     
  18. pgabriel

    pgabriel Educated Negro

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    Actually I'm just pointing out one organization has championships the other doesn't.
     
  19. MadMax

    MadMax Contributing Member

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    i'd like to point out that it's apples and oranges. that one sport has a salary cap and healthy revenue sharing while the other does not.
     
  20. Rocketman95

    Rocketman95 Hangout Boy

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    Actually I'm just pointing out that McLane didn't forget how to swing a bat in the postseason.
     

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