Looking at the press conference photo of Brad Mills being named the new manager of the Houston Astros and watching Ed Wade and Drayton McLane look like they're playing tug-of-war with Wade's jersey, I see something very fitting.
You know: 2, as in second choice.
Mills was named manager after the 'Stros first choice, Manny Acta, decided to take his act to the Cleveland Indians.
One has to wonder how Mills feels being named manager only after the club's first choice nixed the idea.
With Mills, we all will hope he turns into another Ben Roethlisberger. You remember: the Pittsburgh Steelers drafted Ben Roethlisberger after other highly-touted quarterbacks like Eli Manning had already been taken. Big Ben now has two Super Bowl rings. And, if my understanding of cinematic history is right, Ridley Scott was something like the fifth or sixth choice to direct Alien. Well, all Scott did was turn that movie into one of the all-time great sci-fi-horror films.
Hopefully, Mills won't follow Scott in every aspect. I mean, it would be kind of gross if he made an alien pop bloodily out of the chest of an umpire who made a bad call or an Astros player who gets an attitude problem.
Here's what I like about Mills: he's learned under Francona, a man who could easily run for and win public office in Boston on the strength of bringing two World Series championships to Beantown, including the 2004 title that helped end an 86-year drought. Francona strikes me as a great manager. He gets oodles and oodles of respect, and he had the joyful task of working with Manny Ramirez.
Here's what concerns me about Mills: he has his work cut out for him. Houston's an aging team, it has high-priced veterans that should be traded, but probably can't be (Carlos Lee, who I believe has a no-trade clause), a starting pitching rotation that is in major need of assistance. He'll also have to deal with an owner in McLane who might not always listen if and when Mills sees problems that need to be addressed. I can see that now:
Mills: Drayton, I see a problem with the team.
McLane: What is it, Brad?
Mills: You. Sell the team. Now. Gilbert Gottfried could run this team better than you. And he'd certainly be more entertaining as he yells ASSSSSSSTROOOOOOS! the way he yells AAAAAAFLAAAAAC!
McLane: Oh yeah? You're FIRED!
Let's be honest, folks, trying to turn Houston into a winner quickly is a job that would've given Arnold Schwarzenegger a hernia, even in his Mr. Olympia days. Let's hope McLane has patience and understands that.
And, of course, Houston hasn't made the playoffs since 2005, when it made it to the World Series for the first time ever. Houston finished 74-88 and in next-to-last-place in the National League Central; moreover, they really weren't as good as their 14-below-500 record indicated.
Mr. Mills, you have the job. Congrats. Now, please do what you can to do for Houston what Mr. Francona did for Boston.
While you're at it, see if you can talk McLane into ditching the ugly uniforms for the classic blue-and-orange shooting star look. I freaking HATE the current duds and think they're, well, a dud.
Richard Zowie's a bleacherreport.com blogger and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or through a private message or by commenting below.