Escape from Queens

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Leaving Citi Field wasn’t a ton of fun for most fans last night. Just as the Home Run Derby was ending a fire broke out at the 103rd street station on the 7 train, stopping subway service back to the city.

While this stranded thousands, at least temporarily, we elite members of the media had nothing to fear, for there is a media shuttle bus. A few fellow scribes and I made our way to the bus, giving lip service to how dreadful it was for those poor, poor people stuck at Willets Point, but really thanking our lucky stars that we had an air conditioned bus waiting to ferry us back to Manhattan.

But they weren’t all poor, poor people. Some were resourceful. As we were getting on the bus several people wearing Mets and All-Star gear, some with kids, subtly inquired where the bus was going and, when they heard “Midtown,” just walked on board. The idea was clearly to make someone kick them off rather than ask if they could ride. No one was checking credentials.

Can’t lie: really loved this. Partially because I was near the front of the line getting on the bus and knew I had a seat. Partially because it presented the possibility that some member of the sporting press would get stuck on the sidewalk when the driver said the bus was full. I was hoping against hope that some seasoned columnist would be left shaking his fist at the driver, shouting “don’t you know who I am?!”

Alas it didn’t come to that. Much of the media was still back at the park writing stories. The bus left with four empty seats. My hopes of seeing something akin to the last helicopter leaving the American embassy in Saigon were dashed.

Still: it was kind of fun to see New Yorkers doing what they do best: pretty much what they want unless and until someone or something stopped them. It’s the only way to be in this city, I figure. Otherwise you’re probably going to be toast.

Heading up to Connecticut and the NBC Sports mothership this morning. Back at Citi Field for the All-Star Game this afternoon. Between now an then I’ll be making my escape contingency plans for tonight.

Brown hired as general manager of Houston Astros

astros general manager
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HOUSTON — In joining the World Series champion Houston Astros, new general manager Dana Brown’s goal is to keep the team at the top of the league.

“I’m coming to a winning team and a big part of what I want to do is sustain the winning long term,” he said. “We want to continue to build, continue to sign good players, continue to develop players and continue the winning success.”

Brown was hired by the Astros on Thursday, replacing James Click, who was not given a new contract and parted ways with the Astros just days after they won the World Series.

Brown spent the last four seasons as the vice president of scouting for the Atlanta Braves.

“He is very analytic savvy,” Astros’ owner Jim Crane said. “He’s a great talent evaluator based upon what we’ve seen at the Braves, seasoned at player acquisitions, seasoned at player development and retention. They were often able to extend some of their player contracts… he’s got great people skills, excellent communicator and, last but not least, he’s a baseball player and knows baseball in and out and we were very impressed with that.”

The 55-year-old Brown becomes the only Black general manager in the majors and joins manager Dusty Baker to form just the second pairing of a Black manager and general manager in MLB history. The first was general manager Ken Williams and manager Jerry Manuel with the White Sox.

Brown said he interviewed for GM jobs with the Mets and Mariners in the past and that MLB commissioner Rob Manfred told him to stay positive and that his time to be a general manager would come.

“It’s pretty special,” he said. “We understand that there are a lot of qualified African Americans in the game that know baseball and that could be a big part of an organization and leading organization in baseball operations. So at the end of the day, I think it’s good for our sport to have diversity and I’m really excited for this opportunity.”

Crane was asked about having the league’s only Black general manager.

“Certainly, we are very focused on diversity with the Astros,” he said. “It’s a plus, but the guy’s extremely qualified and he’ll do a great job. It’s nice to see a man like Dana get the job and he earned the job. He’s got the qualifications. He’s ready to go.”

Brown doesn’t have a lot of connections to the Astros, but does have some ties. He played baseball at Seton Hall with Hall of Famer Craig Biggio, who spent his entire career with the Astros and serves as special assistant to the general manager. He played against fellow Hall of Famer and special assistant to the general manager Jeff Bagwell in the Cape Cod league during a short minor league career.

Brown said he spoke to both of them before taking the job and also chatted with Baker, whom he’s know for some time.

“Dusty is old school, he cuts it straight and I like it,” Brown said. “And so that means I can cut it straight with him.”

Brown worked for the Blue Jays from 2010-18 as a special assistant to the general manager. From 2001-09 he worked as director of scouting for the Nationals/Expos. He began his career with the Pittsburgh Pirates, where he spent eight years as their area scouting supervisor and East coast cross checker.

Click had served as Houston’s general manager since joining the team before the 2020 season from the Tampa Bay Rays.

Brown, who has been part of drafting a number of big-name players like Stephen Strasburg, Ryan Zimmerman and last season’s National League rookie of the year Michael Harris, is ready to show Crane that bringing him to Houston was the right choice.

“Baseball is all I know, it’s my entire life,” he said. “So I want to empty myself into this city, the Astro fans and let Jim Crane know that he made a special pick.”