Larry Dierker (above) might not have managed the Astros for a few years, but that doesn’t mean he’s no longer a company man.
Coming back to Houston for the first time since October, Carlos Beltran may get a little emotional on Thursday.
He will have some great memories from his October juggernaut against the Braves and Cardinals. That two-week stretch of baseball made him a lot of money when he signed with the Mets. He would have made about the same amount of money with the Astros. He apparently had a no-trade clause in the Astros offer, too, but it didn’t cover the length of the contract.
I can’t help wondering if one of his feelings will be regret. I don’t know the specifics of the offers, but I do know what it is like to play in Houston and New York. This is why I think he may have second thoughts.
Though his chances of making the playoffs again would be only slighter better today with the Astros than they are with the Mets, the road to the playoffs will be rougher in New York.
He and his new teammates will be scrutinized pitch by pitch. The media will be relentless until the end of the season, and the players will just have to deal with it. Each radio and television station and every newspaper will be fighting for a scoop; when they don’t get a spectacular story, they’ll invent one.
In New York, Beltran has already experienced bone chilling weather in April. He has likely played in a few red-hot days there too. It can be as hot there as it is in Houston, but there is no retractable roof at Shea Stadium, a situation that is obvious every five minutes when an airplane roars overhead from LaGuardia Airport. It’s noise pollution to the max.
Because there is no roof, there are many rain delays. Suspended and postponed games are a drag, and they are not part of the schedule in Houston. In Houston, he knew the game would start on time and continue until it was over. It would not be hot; it would not be cold.
Living conditions are good anywhere if you have enough money. But I think Beltran and his wife would be more comfortable spending the summer here. If you are from Puerto Rico, the Houston summer seems perfectly normal.
Drayton McLane was sure that Beltran would return to the Astros, but he didn’t see the Mets’ whole hand. It just so happened that the Mets general manager, Omar Minaya, a native of Puerto Rico, returned to that island nation to sit down with Carlos and make him feel at home. The Astros were not afforded the same opportunity.
It probably seemed like the perfect marriage in January. I wonder if it feels that way now.
After reading the above commentary, I don’t know why the Astros even bother to have a GM. Dierker’s sales pitch this off-season could be irresistable : “Come To Minute Maid, Where The Games Always Start On Time.”