Thursday's Three Astros Things

Talking about players trading places, Tino Martinez and Hal McCoy...

Some things to talk about while we leave the trade deadline in the dust...

1) Alyson Footer's great piece

Tim has already taken care of notifying everyone of the awesomeness in Alyson Footer's recent article on MLB.com through Twitter. But, I had to share it here, too, because it's a pretty great read. Footer looks back at past instances when players have been traded from one team to the other while playing said team. She looked at recent examples, including Bud Norris, but also reached into the Way Back Machine to talk about Phil Garner.

Actually, surprised isn't the most accurate word to describe how Garner felt when learning what team he was joining. Furious was more like it. Soaking wet after being pulled out of the shower in the home clubhouse, Garner picked up the phone and heard the voice of general manager Dick Wagner: "You've been traded to the Dodgers."

Back then, the Astros-Dodgers rivalry conjured up about as much goodwill among men as you'll find between the Cubs and Cardinals, Giants and Dodgers and Yankees and Red Sox.

In other words, there was no love.

"I hated the Dodgers," Garner said. "We made it our life's passion to hate the Dodgers in Houston."

There's even more goodness in the article, so I recommend checking it out.

2) Tino Martinez and picking up baseballs

If you haven't read Ken Rosenthal's story on why Tino Martinez was REALLY fired (according to Tino), then check that out. Then, come back here and read Joe Posnanski's take on the whole thing. He's usually brilliant, with a great story about when George Brett was with the Royals.

The crux of it is, though, that picking up baseballs after BP has always been the great equalizer.

But I hope that they always pick up their own baseballs. It's a small thing, I know - we're not exactly talking about the days when baseball players had to get winter jobs. But it represents something to me. Every time a coach shouts out, "OK, get ‘em up," and you see Barry Bonds or Derek Jeter or Chipper Jones or Dustin Pedroia or Miguel Cabrera go pick up baseballs and put them back into the bucket, I feel great. It is something that ties them to the game's history. It is something that says, "No matter what I get paid, I'm a ballplayer - and while I might have yachts and sports cars and five homes, like all the little kids playing, I have to pick up my own baseballs."

We had an incident this year at my day job where a baseball coach was recorded chewing out his players for not being ready for practice. He was understandably upset, but the parents reacted enough to force an investigation and the coach was suspended for a time. He was reinstated for the start of the season, but resigned shortly thereafter.

How many of you have heard coaches use motivating tactics like the ones Poz talks about here? How many can remember coaches using salty language to get a point home? Has that now gone by the wayside? Or, was what Martinez did that crossed the line more about physically grabbing players?

I'm not sure of the answers, but it's a fascinating topic for discussion.

3) On Hal McCoy

One last great read for the day. Like the other two, it's not exactly Astros-focused, but Rick Reilly does such a great job of talking about what Hall of Fame writer Hall McCoy has had to go through since he suffered a pair of ocular strokes, it's worth your time.

The first day of that spring training in 2003, without a good eye, was a disaster. He had to out-wait everybody at the luggage carousel because he couldn't tell which bag was his. He was lost in the Sarasota airport. When he stumbled into the clubhouse for the first time, "I suddenly couldn't recognize the faces of guys I'd known for years. And I'm thinking, 'How can I cover a baseball team when I can't see?'"

McCoy was looking like a wrinkled pile of laundry with a person in it. Naturally, Boone figured it was a perfect time to give him crap.

"What happened to you?" Boone asked with a grin.

McCoy shuffled in the direction of the voice.

"Aaron, I think this is the last time you'll see me for a long time," McCoy said. "Both my eyes are gone. I have to quit."

Boone took him by the shoulders and sat him down in his chair.

"I don't want to hear you say 'quit' again," Boone said, sternly. "That's not a good enough reason to quit. You're too good at your job to quit. You're still too young. We'll help you. We'll get it figured out."

That's just one of the great stories Reilly conveys about what McCoy has gone through. Maybe it resonates more with me because I'm a writer and I respect McCoy quite a bit. But, I also know a few of you out there grew up in and around Cincinnati as Reds fans, probably have fond memories of McCoy and might want to read.

Okay, I promise. Tomorrow's Three Things will have a LOT more on the actual Astros.

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