Occasionally, this writer asks the “congregation” questions to get their views on all things Astros. Today, as I continue to struggle with topical topics in a frozen baseball world, I will quiz myself on my thoughts on a variety of things.
Is there any good to come from this lockout and creeping labor situation?
The Astros have a number of players on the mend from injuries/surgeries this off-season. Jake Meyers and his shoulder, Justin Verlander and his TJ surgery, Lance McCullers and his elbow and Alex Bregman and his wrist are among the players that hopefully will benefit from the extra time off. On top of that, the Astros went deep into the playoffs again and a lot of the younger pitchers, like Luis Garcia had to pitch more innings than they have ever pitched in their lives. Extra rest could be a big positive.
Besides that, hopefully, the two parties will come to an agreement that will hold solid and allow us to have a number of years of peace in the baseball valley.
What are my greatest fears related to this lockout and creeping labor situation?
For those same injured players, I do have the fear that if there is a compressed Spring Training, they will try to come back too quickly and suffer a relapse or not get the type of reps that they need to be ready whenever this season does begin.
And of course, I am concerned that the two sides fool around and delay the start of the season or lose a big chunk of the season as they glacially ooze towards some middle ground. Folks have had enough to worry about in their personal pandemic-tinged lives and don’t need what is supposed to distract and entertain them to be another psychological burden.
Do you have any regrets as an Astros fan?
Sure, I wish I had met more of them and gone to more games and I regret that I did not win the lottery for World Series tickets for the 2005 WS.
But I do have one odd-wad regret. It was June 5, 1979, and I was at a Phillies vs. Astros game. It was not much of a game as the Phillies were giving Steve Carlton plenty of support with 17 hits and 8 runs. The Astros heading into the 7th had 0 hits and 0 runs. Jeff (or if you prefer Jeffrey) Leonard got a hit in the 7th inning to break up the no-no. And I was pulling for him to do it. Steve Carlton holds the NL record for most one-hitters (6), but never threw a no-hitter. I regret wanting that no-hitter by the future Hall of Famer broken up and not being able to say I was there when he brought the no-no home.
Astrodome or Minute Maid Park? Discuss
It is hard to believe, but Minute Maid (nee Enron) Park is turning 23 years old this season. It feels like just yesterday we were bringing it home from the ballpark hospital. Cha cha.
MMP has definitely the better site lines. You can be much closer to the action in most areas of the park and it has a lot of fine places where you can stand and watch the game. I’d often go down towards the end of the game and watch from just off home plate or down a line a little bit or get in behind the Crawford Boxes. The variety and quality of food is way up at the new stadium (I know what you are thinking and we will hit on that in the next paragraph). Placing it downtown has made it a more central location for folks, especially those living on the northside of town. Obviously, the modern video and sound systems are superior to the Dome.
The Astrodome though was special. Riding in my parent’s car and seeing it appear looking so huge and (wow!) indoors was almost like landing on another planet. The video screen was quaint by today’s standards, but we loved the Herb Alpert pre-game music “videos” and the little joke cartoons like when the manager went to the mound and pulled a pitcher and he ended up drowning in the showers. The sound system was good enough, it certainly was not ear piercing like over at MMP. The view was worse at the Dome unless you were lucky enough to be up close. It was a big bowl and the majority of seats were farther away. However, those seats were more comfortable, both cushier and wider than the MMP tight wooden chairs. Hey, I need wider as I get older not skinnier. The food was ballpark simple, but it also did not require a second mortgage. Parking was plentiful, a set price and wrapped around the ballpark, though it often took quite a while to get out of the parking lot. Around MMP, you are paying big time or walking tons of blocks to get a spot.
Dan P says he likes MMP just a tad better, but I do miss so many things about the Dome days.
How long will this year to year go on with Dusty Baker?
He’s done a good job in his two seasons, based on a one year contract and a team option for the second season. He took them to the ALCS in the dysfunctional 2020 season and to the World Series in the half-way normal 2021 season. This turned into a third season with an extension for 2022. It feels like that the 72 year old Baker can stick around as long as he wants. But how long will that be?
The optimum would be that the Astros win that 2nd ring next season, Dusty gets his first and gets to leave on his terms. In many ways that would be the baseball gods being fair.
So, anything else you want Dan P to answer for you?