BASEBALL'S RODEO REBEL
Astro Carlos Lee either really loves the rodeo, or really hates baseball
Chances are that if you took two days off from your job during an important planning conference to attend the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo — after having just returned from a four-month vacation — you wouldn't be employed much longer.
Carlos Lee — the Houston Astros' $100 million man — does it ... and it's shrugged off as Carlos being Carlos the cattleman.
Lee returned to Astros spring training in Kissimmee, Fla. today after having given the Astros the kiss off for two days in order to herd cattle at Houston's rodeo. This isn't a joke to Lee. He's a true, dedicated cattleman. He owns working ranches in both Texas and his native Panama. He loves the Houston rodeo enough that he negotiated getting an excused rodeo absence every spring into his contract.
Which makes one wonder just how easy it is to bargain with Astros owner Drayton McLane? Lee's six-year $100-million deal was already dubbed one of the 45 worst contracts in baseball - before anyone knew about the rodeo provision. Did new pitcher Brett Myers work two excused domestic violence free passes into his deal?
Sure, it's sort of Houston cute that Lee loves the rodeo this much. Now, that's showing some inner cowboy.
But can you imagine what the reaction would be Alex Rodriguez took two days off from Yankees spring training to attend a poker tournament? It'd be the talk of a baseball and instantly become a referendum on A-Rod's true commitment to the team. With the Astros no one really cares one way or the other ... because the Astros are quickly becoming a team that no one cares about (or at least one that no one takes seriously).
What's next? Hunter Pence gets Tuesdays off to teach a spin class?
Carlos Lee is a funny rodeo story.
Unless, you're hoping to see another Houston sports franchise ever win a championship.