While waiting for the Astro’s 2014 Spring Training to resolve itself, I became a little bored with the proceedings. In the long run does DeLeon vs. Zeid, Harrell vs. Keuchel or Guzman vs. Krauss really matter? So, my imagination leapt forward to next season’s spring training session, when I was sure the seemingly eternal rebuilding program would begin to bear fruit.
A friend of mine told me about a guy who specialized in sports predictions and worked out of the back of an antique store on lower Westheimer. He was known as Swami Mil-Hamo. I decided to make a quick visit to his shop and let him peer into the Astros’ future for me.
I entered the shop and was met with an odor that seemed like a mix of Ben-Gay and Orange Metamucil. Swami Mil-Hamo appeared from behind a side curtain looking as ancient and over the hill as George Springer.
He sat at a small table and motioned me to sit across from him. In the middle of the table was a large crystal ball – but I swore that the crystal contained a child’s Magic 8 ball inside. Over Mil-Hamo’s shoulder was an autographed picture of Hank Aaron hitting his 715th HR. Floating in mid-air over the table was a can with the note “TIPS” on it. As my eyes adjusted to the low light I realized that the can was held up by fishing line which looped over a dim chandelier high above our heads and ended up somewhere around Mil-Hamo’s lap.
Mil-Hamo was wearing humongous black framed glasses, ridiculous, but somehow familiar. “Wait a minute – those look just like Harry Carey’s glasses.”
“Yeah – when Brickhouse retired from the Cubs broadcast booth in ’81 that was supposed to be my spot – but nooooooo – they brought in that son-of-a-gun, father-of-a-chip – the only guy with a bigger ego than I had. I hated him worse than Bo Weaver hates Jim Crane – so one day he left the booth to get 4 more Buds and I stole his glasses. He accused me of taking them – I said he dropped them out of the booth singing ‘Take me out to the ballgame’. I figured they’d help me channel the baseball spirits here.
“So drop a 20 spot in my tip can and start asking away.”
I flipped a 20 into the can and asked my first question, “When the Astros go to the 2015 Spring Training – will Jeff Luhnow’s spot with the organization be secured long term?”
Mil-Hamo shook the crystal ball and then read – “Reply hazy – try again.” The tip can shook vigorously – so I threw another 20 in there.
Mil-Hamo touched both temples with his fingertips, “I see an empty place at the table, I see a crutch with out an owner…oops…wrong scene – I see Jim Crane playing golf with Jerry Jones. I see Jim Crane’s eyes widening when Jerry explains he is his own GM and does not have to pay for one. I see an empty Astros’ GM’s office and an empty minor league system – next spring.”
“Yikes,” I said. “Swami – speaking of Jim Crane – will he have nailed down a TV deal by next Spring Training.”
“Ask again later” said the Swami as the can shook in mid-air. I tossed a 10 in this time and gave the Swami a pointed stare.
Mil-Hamo hesitates and then says, “I see the Astros on every cable network in the country. I see them being broadcast on PBS. I see 20 minute breaks between innings as Jim Crane and Jeff Bagwell beg the public to call-in with their Astro pledges.”
“Swami – will Bo Porter still be the manager next spring?”
“Signs point to yes.”
“Any details on Bo, Swami?”
The can shivered again and this time I reluctantly tossed in a fin, disdain clearly on my face.
“The Astros finish the season shattering the Mets modern record for futility with a 35-127 record. No one can understand why Porter is not fired until former GM Luhnow reveals that Porter signed a below market lifetime contract to be the manager until his death. Rumors are that 1/4 of Porter’s income is spent on personal security.”
“Swami – will we finally see some of the young studs (Springer, Singleton, Correa, Folty or Wojo) come to 2015 Spring Training with mlb jobs in their pockets or real chances to be on the big club?”
“Concentrate and ask again.”
I gave the Swami a death glare and as I tossed a quarter in the can I said, “You heard it the first time.”
The Swami gulped and said, “Well, none of those players actually make it to Spring Training 2015. After Jim Crane takes over the GM job from Jeff Luhnow, he decides to make some changes to save money by trading all the top prospects for rookie league and lower A ball players. He said this should stop all the complaints about not promoting the top prospects.”
I stood up and walked out without asking my last question. “Will I still be disappointed in this team come 2015?” The Magic 8 ball in my head said “It is decidedly so.”